Celebrity couple portmanteau / THU 9-18-14 / Tree in giraffe's diet / Tree-dwelling snake / Unhelpful spelling clarification #1 / Female motorcyclists in biker slang
Thursday, September 18, 2014
Constructor: Joel Fagliano
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
- C AS IN CUE
- A AS IN ARE
- S AS IN SEA
- E AS IN EYE
- Y AS IN YOU
The "punchline" being that one might think the fellow's name is "QRCIU" (66A: What the listener might think 16-Across's name is?)
Word of the Day: KIMYE (32D: Celebrity couple portmanteau) —
• • •
CASEY. Great. Let's go. The problem for me was mainly one of let-down. First, the other theme answers, by their very nature, didn't have much playfulness about them and (since I knew the core concept) were in no way surprising. And since the grid has no real sparkle—it's very clean and solid, but it's mostly Monday-level fill with no remarkable longer answers—I worked through it without that much pleasure (except a bit of smug pleasure, which turned quickly to guilty pleasure, at getting KIMYE and YOLO so quickly).
Let-down part II was that the revealer is an absurdity. I don't just mean that QRCIU is literally absurd, i.e. meaningless, but that the core conceit—that one would think that that is how the fictional CASEY was spelling his name—is preposterous. If you say "C AS IN CUE," no one thinks you are saying the first letter is "Q." Actually, scratch that. With "C AS IN CUE," the conceit actually kinda Does work, in that there is a word that sounds like CUE (namely QUEUE) that *does* start with "Q." It's the other letters where it doesn't work. Anyone hearing "blank as in blank" knows that the first blank is a letter and the second blank is a word. Not a letter. A AS IN ARE could not lead anyone to think that the second letter is "R" because there is no word *starting* with "R" that sounds like "ARE." And I see there is a "?" on the end of the 66-Across clue, so … OK, but this is simply not how the "blank as in blank" thing works. I can see now that picking up on the "the last words in the theme answers all sound like letters" concept almost instantly really spoiled whatever the revealer was supposed to do for me. So I started out impressed, but the feeling wore off a bit by the end.
Best wrong answer—66A: What the listener might think CASEY's name is?: QUE SI.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld