Rabu, 23 Februari 2011

02.23 Wed

February 23, 2011
Jerome Gunderson

Theme: Big Dummies

Theme answers:
  • 1A: Court jester (FOOL).
  • 17A: Country singer with the 1961 hit "Crazy" (PATSY CLINE).
  • 56A: Shameful emblem in Genesis (MARK OF CAIN).
  • 64A: Hammer or sickle (TOOL).
  • 10D: Hockshop receipt (PAWN TICKET).
  • 29D: Remora (SUCKERFISH).
  • 38A: 1- and 64-Across, and the first words of the four longest puzzle answers (DUPES).

I really like this theme idea. It's cool that there are so many words that aren't exact synonyms but are close enough in meaning that they hang together pretty well. Unfortunately, even though they're symmetrical, they nonetheless have the feeling of being haphazardly placed all over the grid. Also, if the theme is already this all-over-the-place, I would have worked extra hard not to include another random entry that fits the theme but isn't included in the theme, i.e., NINNY (63A: Doofus). So, yeah. Just seems kind of disorderly to me.

The theme answers themselves are colorful phrases, so that's pretty cool. Other highlights for me include:

  • 35A: Sudden ache (PANG).
  • 45A: Fastening pin (COTTER).
  • 62A: Reggae musician Peter (TOSH).
  • 1D: Dandies (FOPS).
  • 18D: 2009 Series winners (YANKS).
There were two clues that completely puzzled me. First, [10A: Sourdough's ground breaker] for PICK. Even now after having considered this for a good bit of time (relatively), I still don't understand what it means. Second, [48A: Sponge for grunge] for LOOFAH. To me, "grunge" means only one thing and that's late-80s, Seattle-based, Nirvana-Pearl-Jam-Etc. music so it was hard for me to shift gears and think of it as its former definition. Which I guess is, like, dirt? Only it sounds grosser than dirt. And speaking of gross, if LEPER COLONY never appears in the puzzle again I'll be okay with that. Totally okay.

Oh, and I've never heard the word "calaboose," which I guess is a slang word for "jail," thus [12D: Calaboose compartment] = CELL. I'm not saying that any of these entries aren't perfectly legitimate. I'm just saying that for a puzzle that already seemed kinda slapdash because of the theme, the clues that seemed strange to me were more irritating than enlightening.

Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 14A: Quint's boat in "Jaws" (ORCA).
  • 16A: Yemen seaport (ADEN).
  • 25A: Mine entrance (ADIT).
  • 41A: Russia's __ Mountains (URAL).
  • 55A: "The Time Machine" race (ELOI).
  • 7D: Adidas rival (AVIA).
  • 32D: Sharp ridge (ARETE).
  • 49D: Hodgepodge (OLIO).
  • 54D: First-year law student (ONE-L).
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Everything Else 5A: Zoo barriers (MOATS); 15A: Polite (CIVIL); 19A: Trickery (WILE); 20A: __-mo replay (SLO); 21A: Vicinity (AREA); 22A: Submerge while sitting poolside, as one's feet (DANGLE); 24A: Australian folk hero Kelly (NED); 26A: 49th state (ALASKA); 30A: Like the son in a parable of Jesus (PRODIGAL); 34A: Bills of fare (MENUS); 36A: Heal (CURE); 37A: Old Norse mariner (ERIC); 39A: Retain (KEEP); 40A: Cranny relative (NOOK); 42A: "Beau __ " (GESTE); 43A: Kitchen areas, perhaps (DINETTES); 46A: Cereal grain (RICE); 47A: Also (TOO); 51A: Play a round (GOLF); 52A: Timing lead-in (TWO); 59A: Puppy bites (NIPS); 60A: Mindy, to Mork? (ALIEN); 61A: Teen bane (ACNE); 2D: Shouted, say (ORAL); 3D: Septi- plus one (OCTO-); 4D: Vegas opener (LAS); 5D: Joel who was the first actor to portray Dr. Kildare (MCCREA); 6D: No longer squeaky (OILED); 8D: Badge material (TIN); 9D: Snow pack? (SLED DOGS); 11D: Beatnik's "Got it" ("I DIG"); 13D: Pants part (KNEE); 23D: Lend a hand (AID); 25D: Synthetic fiber (ARNEL); 26D: Congressionally change (AMEND); 27D: The king of France? (LE ROI); 28D: Atom with a negative charge (ANION); 30D: Mamas' mates (PAPAS); 31D: Hotel client (GUEST); 33D: With 45-Down, Middle Ages quarantine area (LEPER); 35D: Put through a sieve (PUREE); 38D: "The Flying __": Wagner opera (DUTCHMAN); 42D: Explode (GO OFF); 44D: Padre's hermana (TIA); 45D: See 33-Down (COLONY); 47D: Memento (TOKEN); 48D: Pre-Easter period (LENT); 50D: "Uh-oh, I dropped it!" ("OOPS!"); 51D: Big smile (GRIN); 52D: Crisp, filled tortilla (TACO); 53D: Sot (WINO); 57D: Ring icon (ALI); 58D: Sylvester, e.g. (CAT).

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