Wednesday, February 8, 2017
Constructor: Ned White
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
- PRAIRIE OYS (16A: *Great Plains plaints?)
- GIMME SHEL (24A: *"Get Silverstein on the phone now!") [no question mark??]
- STRAIGHT SHOO (29A: *Command like "Let me be direct: Get lost!"?)
- PORTRAIT PAIN (38A: *Cramps from posing too long?)
- TRAIN SPOT (46A: *Teach Dick and Jane's dog new tricks?)
William Steig (November 14, 1907 – October 3, 2003) was an American cartoonist, sculptor, and, late in life, an illustrator and writer of children's books. Best known for the picture books Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, Abel's Island, and Doctor De Soto, he was also the creator of Shrek!, which inspired the film series of the same name. He was the U.S. nominee for both of the biennial, international Hans Christian Andersen Awards, as a children's book illustrator in 1982 and a writer in 1988. (wikipedia)
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STRAIGHT SHOO is borderline incoherent. Sooooooo many words have "TER" in them, you couldn't have done better than STRAIGHT SHOO? All those "?" clues and ridiculous answers, and then a revealer that feels ... I want to say dated. What is a LETTER DROP? Is that, like, a slot you put mail through? Seriously, I am 47 and go into post offices not infrequently and I don't really know what this is. Feels bygone. Ah, yes, I see it is a "slot through which letters can be pushed." OK, then. I'd've called it a slot, but at least I know what the phrase means now. The clues/answers are so ridiculous that the clues are barely any help, and so the puzzle definitely played on the hard side. I'm sure there will be people who don't fully grok the theme even upon completion. I *know* there will be people with an error in the last square of 7D: Bottomless pit because ... I mean, ABYSM? A "bottomless pit" is an abyss. ABYSM is just abysmal. Oy. So many (non-prairie) oys.
[Bottom topper?] for TALC. That clue ain't right. It's a baby's bottom, not a sundae. "Topper?" Come on. Had trouble with 23D: Bill fatteners because a. clue is needlessly plural and b. I wasn't sure what meaning of "bill" was in play. Had LATTE for LECHE (20A: Café lightener). Had most of my trouble in the SE due simply to vagueness of clues, like 40D: Stereo component (TUNER) and 45A: Supreme Court action (RULING) and 52A: Like refrigerators, at times (RAIDED) and 64A: Visa concern (DEBT). Mostly this thing was just a slog. "GIMME SHEL!" is the closest thing this puzzle has to an entertaining moment. That's not nearly enough.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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