Eponymous Bloomer / SUN 11-9-14 / Robotic dog on Dr Who / Alternative name for Troy / Facetious unit defined as amount of beauty needed to launch one ship / Modern purveyor of Scrabble Monopoly / Prey of morlocks / Lerner's partner on Broadway /
Sunday, November 9, 2014
Constructor: Tom "The Real" McCoy (sometimes "Da Real," "Realz," or "the GAWD," "GAWD" standing for "good at word designs")
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: "Colorful Characters" — four phrases that follow the pattern [color] [word] have the word reimagined (homophonically) as a letter, which appears only when you color in answers in the grid from which that particular color has been left out. That is, the four theme answers, when read out loud and reinterpreted homophonically, FORM LETTERS (102A: Impersonal notes … or what four groups of this puzzle's answers do (totaling 11 words)) which you can find in the various corners of the grid:
- YELLOW SEA (57A: Body of water found in this grid's upper right corner) gives us a yellow "C" made up of
- BLUE JAY (6A: Bird found in this grid's lower-right corner) gives us a blue "J" made up of
- GREEN TEA (80A: Beverage found in this grid's lower-left corner) gives us a green "T" made up of
- BLACK EYE (85A: Injury found in this grid's upper-left corner) gives us a black "I" made up of
Word of the Day: MILLIHELEN (34A: Facetious unit defined as the amount of beauty needed to launch one ship) —
There is no source that I can find for this—just one of those things that's out there in nerd humor land, with various attributions. I am, however, enjoying David Lance Goines' "Table of Helens and Equivalents," which includes the Microhelen, which provides enough power to "christen a motor boat and start a grass fire," and the Gigahelen, which can "launch the equivalent of one trillion Greek war ships and destroy the solar system."
• • •
MILLIHELEN, and the fact that the letters spell nothing, and anagram to nothing. JICT! Is that something? Like … a Jute and a Pict had a baby and boom, JICT!? (that one was for all my British medievalists out there. Scop! (pronounce like "'Sup!?" — it's how we greet each other. ANYway…)). I could tell Jerry. I can take judo. I crave Tom Jones. Can I jump that? What if I told you this was a meta? Well it is. Seriously. But I don't know the answer. Please tell me the answer. Spend all day trying to figure it out, then report back. I'll be waiting.
We've seen this word/letter homophone thing recently, as the basis for some other theme in some other puzzle. But I like this one. Of course I don't remember the other one, so it's not a fair comparison. Still, I stand by whatever it is I just said. This grid has axial (as opposed to rotational) symmetry. I don't know what the "(totaling 11 words)" bit is doing in the revealer. Kind of unnecessary. If they don't get the gag, solvers aren't going to be helped by counting words. But otherwise, I thought the title, theme answers, colored letter answers, and revealer all worked together nicely. This puzzle was actually fun. ELEVENTY times funner than lots of other Sunday puzzles I've been subjected to (48D: 110, to Bilbo Baggins). Big puzzles are hard to make good. They usually end up feeling long. More long than good. This was both. Could've been longer, i.e. it could've been harder (quite a bit), but still, the ride was enjoyable. Clever.
- AMELIA (118A: Eponymous Bloomer) — I get her confused with AMELIA Bedelia. They're pretty different.
- BY FAX (6D: Quaint way of sending documents) — had the "X" and went with TELEX, which is an actual thing, unlike BY FAX, which is an arbitrary phrase boo.
- K-NINE (17D: Robotic dog on "Doctor Who") — that's cute. Unless the "K" is silent, in which case that's just stupid.
- APP STORE (41D: Modern purveyor of Scrabble and Monopoly) — great modern clue and answer. Hurrah.
- ILIUM (92D: Alternative name for Troy) — which brings us full circle:
Was this the [thousand-MILLIHELEN] face that launch'd a thousand ships
And burnt the topless towers of ILIUM…
— Christopher Marlowe, "Dr. Faustus"
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld