Showing posts with label Jeff Dubner. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jeff Dubner. Show all posts

English author Edward Bulwer- / THU 9-22-11 / Songwriter Jimmy Senator Jim / Ritual in which bitter herbs are dipped / Cuban name 2000 news

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Constructor: Jeff Dubner
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: D [?] LY! — five theme answers all start with D [?] LY (by sound), where [?] is a different vowel sound (vowels progress from A to U consecutively)

Word of the Day: Edward Bulwer-LYTTON (41D: English author Edward Bulwer-___) —
Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton PC (25 May 1803 – 18 January 1873), was an English politician, poet, playwright, and prolific novelist. He was immensely popular with the reading public and wrote a stream of bestselling novels which earned him a considerable fortune. He coined the phrases "the great unwashed", "pursuit of the almighty dollar", "the pen is mightier than the sword", and the famous opening line "It was a dark and stormy night (wikipedia)
• • •

This was a very easy Friday puzzle to me, as I never saw the theme until I was done, and with stacks of long Acrosses in the NW and SE corners, the grid looks/feels more themeless than themed. So it's a Tuesday-type theme that played like a Wednesday but looked and felt like a Friday. And yet today is Thursday. No matter—I still had a good time. I think BEN STEIN'S is an unholy abomination of an answer (it's an enormous partial trying to pretend that it isn't) (12D: Win whose money, in a bygone game show?), but everything else seems pretty solid, and the theme answers are bouncy (!) and original-seeming. I thought the theme would have something to do with fisherman, since there were those symmetrical answers about a [Fisherman's relation?]. But that never panned out, and I finished the puzzle ... puzzled. Most befuddling part of the puzzle was the last letter I put in—the "A" in RAUCH (who?) (46D: Jon ___, at 6'11" the tallest player in Major League Baseball history) and ATL, which I did not understand At All. "Atlanta is between two Plymouths? What?" I see ATL for Atlanta all the time; for "Atlantic," not so much. About as much as I see PAC for "Pacific" (outside of the term "PAC-12 Conference," that is).  As for RAUCH, my first thought was ISNER, since I saw "tall" and "player" and I remember thinking he had a good name for crosswords. But he's a tennis player, and spells his name "John." My proudest moment of the solve was dropping in both LLD (41A: Barrister's deg.) and LYTTON. I'm no Anglophile, so the ease with which these answers came to me surprised even myself.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: London newspaper (DAILY MAIL)
  • 23A: Turkey's location (DELI COUNTER)
  • 33A: Taking one's sweet time (DILLY-DALLYING) — a great center answer
  • 44A: Singer with the hit country album "Backwoods Barbie" (DOLLY PARTON)
  • 54A: "Gotcha," formally ("DULY NOTED") — confusing, as "Gotcha" can mean several things.  
I thought I had a cold on Monday, and then Tuesday I felt so good I thought I was mistaken, but today, whoa boy. My body feels fine, but my head is a wreck, so I have to keep this brief so I can get some rest.

  • 1A: Vitamin C source from Southeast Asia (STARFRUIT) — I see these at the supermarket sometimes, but I've never tried them. This answer was not easy for me to pick up.
  • 10A: Songwriter Jimmy and Senator Jim (WEBBS) — Jimmy Webb wrote "Wichita Lineman" and a lot of other popular songs of the later 20th century. 

  • 15A: It has just 16 rules of grammar (ESPERANTO) — I love this answer, especially followed closely by ALEUT (16A: Western language historically written in the Cyrillic alphabet)—that's a hell of a language duo.
  • 29A: ___ Street, main thoroughfare in "Peyton Place" (ELM) — People know that? Yikes. 
  • 1D: Ritual in which bitter herbs are dipped (SEDER)ERNS was the first word I put in the grid. SEDER was the second.
  • 11D: Cuban name in 2000 news (ELIAN) — I wonder about ELIAN. Mainly what I wonder is: how long will he be crossworthy? Forever? His name is soooo lovely from a crossword standpoint, but that incident doesn't seem like something with long-term historical implications. But if it's easy for me to recall (it is), then maybe we'll still be seeing it 20 years from now, though I think future young people are going to be a little annoyed that they're being asked to remember something so trivial.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


    TV monologist / WED 5-25-11 / Gilbert Sullivan's follow-up to Mikado / Drug taken in Rent / Biopic about Ritchie Valens / Duck Hunt gaming console

    Wednesday, May 25, 2011

    Constructor: Jeff Dubner

    Relative difficulty: Challenging

    THEME: ITALIAN / SONNET (2D: With 49-Down, its form follows the pattern of the circled letters) — rhyme scheme appears in circles: ABBA / ABBA / CDE / CDE

    Word of the Day: "RUDDIGORE" (34A: Gilbert and Sullivan's follow-up to "The Mikado") —

    Ruddigore; or, The Witch's Curse, originally called Ruddygore, is a comic opera in two acts, with music by Arthur Sullivan and libretto by W. S. Gilbert. It is one of the Savoy Operas and the tenth of fourteen comic operas written together by Gilbert and Sullivan. It was first performed by the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company at the Savoy Theatre in London on 22 January 1887. (wikipedia)
    • • •

    Wow, this one was rough. Rough to solve, and rough to look at. Theme is unambitious and strange. Most people couldn't tell you the rhyme scheme of an ITALIAN SONNET. I could barely tell you, and I teach the damned thing every year. Rhyme schemes, yeesh (there's actually another possibility for the sestet besides CDECDE: CDCCDC. Wikipedia says that there was eventually also a CDCDCD version). Then there's the odd embedding of the circles—all of it to the left, for some reason, and only half of it split across words in the answer. Only MANIC DEPRESSION (57A: "An Unquiet Mind" subject) demonstrates the classic embedding style, with embedded word touching every word in the theme answer. I had no idea SABBATH BLESSING (27A: Friday night ritual, in Judaism) was a thing, any more than ... any other kind of BLESSING might be a thing. Never heard the phrase. Also never Ever heard of EN BANC DECISIONS (plural ... or singular, for that matter) (45A: Some Court of Appeals work). Jeff is a lawyer (I know because I gave him feedback on a grid of his back in early 2010), so this answer probably felt very natural to him. I guess the weakish theme was supposed to be bolstered and bulked up by the grid-spanning answers. Instead, the whole set-up feels awkward and teetery, with the second and third answers really feeling like reaches. CABBAGE PATCH KID was the only theme answer anywhere near my wheelhouse (17A: Adoptable doll of the '80s). So let's just say the puzzle is adequate, but (despite the poetry) not really my cup of matcha (a word I'd love to see in the puzzle).

    As for the rest of the grid—touch and go. Never Ever seen anyone, "gridder" or otherwise, say "HI, DAD" on TV (28D: Gridder's on-air greeting, maybe). Had "HI, MOM" and then "HI, MAN!" (!?). Had SETS AT for LETS AT (26A: Sics on), which made the "monologist" (ugh, come on, LENO's bad enough; now I have to think him as a weird word no one would ever use to describe him?) impossible to see for a while ("SEN-???"). These two issues made the central answer, "RUDDIGORE," even more laughable (to me) than it would have been with no problems in the crosses. Never heard of "RUDDIGORE." Don't even know how to pronounce it. A third-string G&S opera? Right across the center??? Wow. I'm pronouncing it "Rudiger," if only because that's one of Bart Simpson's fake names (episode 1F05, "Bart's Inner Child").

    [38D: Car tower, maybe => REPO MAN]

    Didn't know what Carnaby Street was, but pieced together MOD easily enough (11A: Like Carnaby Street fashions). Figured the drug taken in "Rent" was HEROIN (it was about A.I.D.S., after all), so went looking for 3-letter slang ... only to find that the drug is the A.I.D.S. drug AZT. Never played Duck Hunt, but I know my gaming consoles pretty well from seeing them so often in crosswords. Knew it was too old to be WII, so NES was the next LOGICal choice (64A: Duck Hunt gaming console, briefly). "LA BAMBA" was the only gimme among the long Downs for me (3D: Biopic about Ritchie Valens). Very big when I was in high school. Made Lou Diamond Phillips a star. I know ANTIOCH better as a college (located ... I don't know where ... oh, Ohio, it turns out; Horace Mann was its first president) (44D: Ancient capital of Syria).

    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

    P.S. A Message From The Future ... (6/29/11) ...

    This website now has a Facebook page. I wanted to install a "Like" button here on the site, but, well, I'm wrestling with installing the code properly, i.e. I'm a technologically incompetent old man. Ugh. I expect I'll get it done in the next few days somehow. In the meantime, the page is here. I'll figure out ways to use it to complement this site. I have a biggish project I'm embarking on, one that will require some, let's say, audience participation ... so I'll probably use the FB page to help me with that ... but more on that later. Right now, if you're on FB, just go Like the page, dammit. I mean, please.

    [Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]


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