Lost lady in Raven / SUN 9-14-14 / Philippine province with repetitive name / Cleaning aid since 1889 / 2012 gold-medal gymnast Raisman / Ocho Jamaican resort / Clove hitch sheepshank / German city on Baltic / Hip-hop record mogul Gotti / Speedy Northeast conveyance / Great White Hope director Martin
Sunday, September 14, 2014
Constructor: Tony Orbach and Patrick Blindauer
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: "Celebrity Spoonerisms" — just what it says. (Definition of "spoonerism" HERE)
- CAINE PILLAR (from "painkiller") (26A: Actor Michael's means of support?)
- FEY HEALED (from "hay field") (28A: Comic Tina recovered from her wound?)
- LEE SCION (from "sea lion") (42A: Heir of martial artist Bruce?)
- FIRTH BOTHER (from "birth father") (52A: Annoyance for actor Colin?)
- GERE BOGGLES (from "beer goggles") (68A: Thunderstruck critic's review for actor Richard?)
- SHEEN CLEATS (from "clean sheets") (88A: What actor Martin calls his athletic footwear?)
- WEST MYTH (from "messed with") (97A: Urban legend about rapper Kanye?)
- BYRNE TACK (from "turn back") (114A: Musician David's equestrian accouterments?)
- POEHLER SOUR (from "solar power") (117A: Tart cocktail named for comic Amy?)
Alexandra Rose "Aly" Raisman (born May 25, 1994) is an American artistic gymnast.At the 2012 Summer Olympics, she was captain of the gold medal-winning US women's gymnastics team, and individually won a gold medal on the floor and a bronze medal on the balance beam. She was also on the US teams that won a silver medal at the 2010 World Championships, and a gold medal at the 2011 World Championships. In 2013, she appeared on Dancing with the Stars. (wikipedia)
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CAINE PILLAR and SHEEN CLEATS—felt a little dry, but FIRTH BOTHER is great for both the weirdness of its surface as well as the unexpected base phrase; POEHLER SOUR and BYRNE TACK both have radical respellings despite being perfect spoonerisms, and so have a certain visual interest; and GERE BOGGLES is just a home run on all counts. It belongs at the center. My main criticism of this theme is how loose and arbitrary it seems. I mean … I assume you could do several more Sunday puzzles with this same conceit. I don't think "Celebrity" is a narrow enough category. Something a little narrower, something that could've lent itself to a halfway decent title … I mean, this title's not even trying. You're very close to all actors here. LEE was an actor, and you could clue WEST as an actress, so it's just BYRNE that's holding you back. Actually, I take that back: Gabriel BYRNE is a pretty prominent actor, actually. So maybe all actors and a title that plays on the word "acting" somehow … I'm just saying that not a lot of thought appears to have gone into making the theme tight, or the title interesting.
The clue on FEY HEALED (Comic Tina recovered from her wound?) is kind of unfortunate, given that she was in fact wounded, with a knife, as a child … I mean, not that she'd be offended or anything. There was just a violence about that clue that made me wince a bit. She did, however, heal nicely, so … maybe it's a triumphant clue after all and I'm just looking at things the wrong way. Let's talk about something else. How about difficulty? I blazed through most of this except for the NE—where my [Blade in the back?] was a SPATULA (!?) and the Polo-CATHAY connection made no sense to me until after-the-fact (CATHAY is Marco Polo's name for "China"). I also had some trouble in the East, where OH HAPPY DAY (39D: "Praise the Lord!") provides an object lesson in the Dark Side of Great Answers. Tony and Patrick must've *really* wanted OH HAPPY DAY because right down the whole length of that thing, the fill gets markedly uglier and more forced than it is anywhere else in the grid. The top part is the worst, with AOKS (!) UNHIP KIEL and ALY awkwarding up the joint pretty badly. That KIEL / ALY crossing very nearly killed me. Never heard of the gymnast, but luckily remembered that a. KIEV is in Ukraine, and b. KIEL was a relative obscurity I complained about a few months back. I briefly considered KIEM / AMY, but to my credit, couldn't take KIEM seriously. Further down the OH HAPPY DAY ladder we get ORA and RPTS (no and no) and then ANS. As always, the problem isn't a single entry but a gruesome pile-up. Was the trade-off worth it? That's the question.
Puzzle of the Week this week was easy to decide. You definitely owe it to yourself to subscribe to Fireball Crosswords (what is taking you so long?) and immediately solve the latest puzzle by Peter Broda, a meta puzzle called "Cross Hatching" that is truly clever. I would discuss it more, but it's a contest puzzle, and the deadline hasn't passed … or maybe it has … I'm too lazy to check, so I'm gonna play it safe and stay mute. But Broda's "Cross Hatching" is not my Puzzle of the Week. No, that honor goes to Patrick Blindauer's "Change of Heart" puzzle (NYT), which broke the internet, or at least the parts of the internet attached to CrossWorld. It rattled more cages, more loudly, than any puzzle I've ever covered. Ever. So for looming large over the puzzle week (and likely the Puzzle Year), … point to Mr. Blindauer.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
P.S. if you haven't seen it yet, do yourself a favor and check out Matt Gaffney's superb new Mental Floss article on how crossword puzzles are made WORD-WEAVING 101: HOW TO LOVINGLY AND SKILLFULLY CREATE A CROSSWORD PUZZLE"). He builds a puzzle right before your eyes, letting you in on his thought processes at every stage. It's the best concise explanation of crossword construction basics that I know of.