High heel of Italy's boot / THU 6-25-15 / Org sponsoring literary fair / One-named musician with hit albums 18 Hotel / Death of 1793 David painting / Tinseltown terrier
Thursday, June 25, 2015
Constructor: David Poole
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: LEADBELLY (61A: Legendary guitarist … or a hint to eight answers in this puzzle) — rebus with "PB" (atomic symbol for lead) in the "belly" (very loosely defined) of eight answers (i.e. shoved into four total boxes):
- POP BOTTLES / TOP BID
- UPBEAT / LIP BALMS
- DEEP BLUE / APBS
- RASPBERRY / CUPBOARD
Apulia (// ə-poo-lee-ə; Italian: Puglia) is a region of Italy in Southern Italybordering the Adriatic Sea in the east, the Ionian Sea to the southeast, and the Strait of Òtranto and Gulf of Taranto in the south. Its southernmost portion, known as Salento peninsula, forms a high heel on the "boot" of Italy. The region comprises 19,345 square kilometers (7,469 sq mi), and its population is about 4.1 million. It is bordered by the other Italian regions of Molise to the north, Campania to the west, and Basilicata to the southwest. It neighbors Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, and Montenegro, across the Adriatic and Ionian Seas. The region extends as far north as Monte Gargano. Its capital city is Bari. (wikipedia)
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LEADBELLY was better than what I was expecting. But still, once you figure out the rebus (took some effort for me), you just hunt the same two-letter square a few more times. Challenging, for sure, given the overall cluing and the odd rebus-square placement. And I do like a challenge. But terrible fill plus one-dimensional trick = shrug. Just OK, at best.
ATTN BELG CRESC is a junk bloc. ETTES is the worst form of fill, i.e. The Plural Suffix. Inexcusable. PSIS APBS USS ASSN, another junk bloc. ESTAB, ouch. Fill is a C-, and that's a gentleman's C-. Also, POP BOTTLES is a horrendous answer. Or, rather, it's got a horrendously misleading and inapt clue. What kind of bottles did Andy Warhol paint? Answer that question honestly. Write it down. OK, did you write down COKE BOTTLES? Because That's The Only Correct Answer. POP BOTTLES, come on. Junk junk junk. Here's me trying to see how many letters I have to type before Google suggests [Andy Warhol pop bottles]:
Lastly, what is up with the APULIA (?) / PALMA (??) crossing. Only the fact that -ALMA looked like it desperately needed a "P" made me guess correctly. Two northern Mediterranean geographical clues? Crossing at a barely guessable letter? That's no good. If I hadn't heard of an ancient novel called "The APULIAn Ass" or something like that, I wouldn't have trusted APULIA at all. Oh, now that I look it up, it's actually "The *Golden* Ass" by a Roman guy *named* "Apuleius." He was north African. Well. So much for my knowing anything about APULIA. Bad cross. Almost all the makings of a true "Natick" (obscure proper nouns crossing at an uninferable letter) except I guessed the "P," so it must, on some level, have been inferable.
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PS I assume ABA = American Book Association??? Nope. American Booksellers' Association (35D: Org. sponsoring a literary fair) Odd. Very odd. Not well known. Giving it a more obscure clue than the obvious legal clue does not improve it. It's still the same crummy little 3-letter abbr. we've been getting for years. Don't get cute w/ your crap fill. It will still be crappy, but now also annoying.