Showing posts with label Onetime Time competitor. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Onetime Time competitor. Show all posts

2001-02 Nickelodeon sitcom / SUN 9-23-12 / Soviet author Ehrenburg / Onetime Time competitor / 1965 title role for Ursula Andress / Dweller along Volga / Actress Martha who played Sinatra's love interest in Some Came Running / Most excellent modern slang

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Constructor: Matt Ginsberg

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: "Breath-Taking" — dedicated to ELIZA / DOOLITTLE (28A: With 78-Down, character commemorated in the answers to this puzzle's starred clues). Clues are for wacky phrases that contain words that start with "H"—in the grid, a la Eliza's pre-tutored speaking style, the "H" is dropped, and the result is ... just a familiar phrase.

Word of the Day: ENOUNCE (20A: Set forth) —
tr.v., e·nounced, e·nounc·ing, e·nounc·es.
  1. To declare formally; state.
  2. To pronounce clearly; enunciate.

Read more:
• • •

There is the germ of a clever idea here. But wackiness is always a mildly dicey proposition to start with (gotta be done really well if it's done at all), and here, it's not even on paper—just in your head. So most of the time you end up figuring out familiar phrases, mostly from crosses, and then backtracking to what the wacky H-containing phrase must've been. And your grid is not wacky. And in fact, outside the theme answers (which seem to have no relationship to one another), the grid is in fact mostly dull, occasionally painful. The theme is very dense, so I understand that the fill is going to be a bit boxed in, maybe a bit compromised or limited here or there. But this grid has literally NO interesting answers outside the theme answers, and mostly it feels as if it was filled either by machine or (related) someone to whom all words are roughly equal in interest and quality, so a valid answer is a valid answer. One INRE = one ERSE = one ROIL = any four-letter word. No sense of craft or discrimination. Take virtually Everything on a diagonal from ANET down to HYER (89D: Actress Martha who played Sinatra's love interest in "Some Came Running"). There's just so much rot. And I thought I hated ALIENEE more than any word that length—and then I met ENOUNCE. You'd have to hold a gun to my head to get me to let that thing into my grid. There's just a [shrug] "sure, whatever" attitude in the fill. "Well ... it's a word. Good enough—next!" It's dispiriting. When corners are hard, you want the work to be worth it. When the payoff involves ENOUNCE and/or ALIENEE, then you are left feeling badly ripped off.

Theme answers:
  • 24A: *Male pattern baldness? (AIRLINE TRAVEL)
  • 32A: *Baying? (NIGHT OWLS)
  • 51A: *Cardiologist's concern? (STATE OF THE ART)
  • 67A: *Caries? (ARM TO THE TEETH)
  • 83A: *Marriage in 2004, divorce in 2011? (SEVEN-YEAR ITCH)
  • 102A: *Conduct classes? (OLD SCHOOL)
  • 113A: *Petrified wood? (FOREST OF ARDEN) — this doesn't make sense in wacky mode (the Forest of Harden!?!?), so boo.
  • 14D: *Stable hands? (ALTAR BOYS)
  • 3D: *Endless bagpipe tune? (LONG ISLAND SOUND)
  • 48D: *Gold-plated forceps? (EYEBROW TWEEZERS)
  • 13A: Most excellent, in modern slang (BADDEST) — Hmm. Stretching the meaning of "modern" pretty thin here. In related news, Michael Jackson's "Bad" just celebrated its 25th anniversary (Aug. 31).
  • 75A: Occupants of the lowest circle of Dante's hell (TRAITORS) — I like to keep about half a dozen copies of "Inferno" on hand at all times, 'cause ... you never know.

  • 91A: Inventor after whom a Yale residential college is named (MORSE) — Because there aren't enough Yale-oriented clues in the world. Insane clue for a very familiar answer. See also the clue on JUNEAU (95D: Gold prospector Joe with a state capital named after him).
  • 93A: Soviet author Ehrenburg (ILYA) — oh, sure, who could forget ... that thing ... he wrote.  
  • 8D: Kellogg offering, briefly (MBA) — so, some university's b-school is named "Kellogg" ... aha, Northwestern. I did not know that. My only associations with Kellogg are cereal-related. Or basketball analyst-related.
  • 39D: French composer of "Vexations" (SATIE) — no one really expects you to know what he composed (though I recommend "GymnopĂ©dies"). You just need to know French composer, 5 letters, boom: SATIE (maybe someone else too, but I'd try SATIE first).
  • 43A: Extinct emu-like birds (MOAS) — in the plural. You don't see that too often. I only wish "emu-like" could've been in the grid instead of just the clues.
  • 50D: Onetime Time competitor, briefly (US NEWS) — ... and World Report. It seems to still exist in some form—online, and as a ranker of colleges and universities. I guess it just isn't in Time's league any more?
  • 64D: 1965 title role for Ursula Andress (SHE) — I know the H. Rider Haggard novel. With the answer at three letters, I just made an educated guess here.
  • 70D: Dweller along the Volga (TATAR) — Oddly easy. Had the "T" and just thought "what's the crosswordesiest thing I can think of?"
  • 76D: 2001-02 Nickelodeon sitcom ("TAINA") — the biggest "WTF!?" of the day, by far. Never heard of it, which is stunning given its longevity and lasting cultural resonance.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


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