Jumat, 11 Maret 2011

03.11 Fri

March 11, 2011
Donna S. Levin

Theme: Game show puns — Puns based on the titles of old game shows

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Game show about bribery at a checkpoint? (SALE OF THE SENTRY).
  • 27A: Game show about an Algerian governor's search for his spouse? (QUEEN FOR A DEY).
  • 48A: Game show in which "Stuttering pig" might be a clue? (NAME THAT TOON).
  • 63A: Game show in which couples confess indiscretions? (TWO TELL THE TRUTH).
A couple quick announcements before we get to the puzzle. First, a puzzle Rex Parker and I constructed is available today over at Brendan Emmett Quigley's excellent blog. BEQ also interviewed us, so I'm really eager to see if he was able to edit my part down enough to make me sound interesting. Head on over there and find out for yourself!

Second, will I be seeing you in Brooklyn next week? It's not too late to sign up for the big puzzle tournament, you know. It's also pretty much the perfect time to sign up for the other big puzzle tournament, in L.A. on May 1. Oh man, I just realized we're moving that weekend. I hope I can get away. We had a blast at the L.A. tournament last year!

And finally, I've received quite a few personal messages over the last several weeks and I have been unbelievably rude by not responding to them yet. Please know that I appreciate hearing from you (so much!) and I will definitely get back to you in the next couple days. It's just been crazy over here at the PuzzleHouse lately.

Okay, today's puzzle. I like this theme. The game shows are all pretty old, but I think they're well-known enough that you shouldn't have had any trouble coming up with them. SALE OF THE CENTURY and QUEEN FOR A DAY were both before my time. I do remember watching NAME THAT TUNE and TO TELL THE TRUTH as a child. I'll be interested to hear from some younger people though: Are you familiar with these shows? As far as the puns go … well, they're puns. I like that they're all clued as if they're still game shows. My least favorite is QUEEN FOR A DEY. I had QUEEN FOR A in place but wasn't sure what an "Algerian governor" might be called. Maybe that's common knowledge, but it wasn't for me. Wasn't there an actual show where "couples confessed indiscretions"? I remember seeing ads for it and being completely nauseated. I can't imagine it lasted very long, but it's hard to keep up with all the stupid shows out there these days, so maybe it's still around.

So. Okay. That's the theme. As for the fill, it seemed really uneven to me. First of all, there was just a ton of crosswordese:
  • 16A: Turow memoir (ONE-L).
  • 31A: Muse who inspires poets (ERATO).
  • 42A: "Exodus" hero (ARI).
  • 67A: Slobbering canine (ODIE).
  • 24D: Slaughter on a diamond (ENOS).
  • 35D: Woodstock singer before Joan (ARLO).
  • 39D: "__ la Douce" (IRMA).
  • 51D: Church area (APSE).
  • 61D: Italian volcano (ETNA).
[Note: Each word in the above list is a link to the post where we first covered it in our Crosswordese 101 feature.]

To me, that seems like it would be an awful lot of crosswordese even for a Monday, much less for a Friday. On the opposite side of the spectrum, this puzzle also contains some super obtuse cluing. So it felt weird to swing back and forth between entries like ODIE and clues like "Out."

Then there was the stuff I just flat-out didn't know (which I'm not complaining about — that's what I expect on a Friday):
  • 33A: One-time neighbor of French Indochina (SIAM).
  • 68A: Mobile one of song (DONNA). I like how DONNA snuck her name into the grid! (Even though I don't get the song reference. I mean I get that there's a song where a girl named DONNA either gets around or, I don't know, travels a lot or something. But I don't know the song.)
  • 5D: "In __ Speramus": Brown U. motto (DEO).
  • 44D: Napoleon vessel? (SNIFTER). I don't know what this means.
Looking at the grid as a whole, well, it definitely has some sparkle (e.g., FINESSE, DELILAH, TREE FARM), and I think if it wasn't for the crosswordese I might have really enjoyed the challenge. But the unevenness just made the whole solving experience feel awkward to me. I'll be interested to hear your thoughts.

  • 1A: Equipped with 6-Across (ARMED) and 6A: See 1-Across (GATS). Whenever we have a pair of answers clued like this someone complains about it, and I think that complaint is totally valid. But late in the week, I don't think this kind of challenge is necessarily unfair. It's called a crossword after all. Sometimes (often!) it's the crossing part that's key.
  • 14A: Permission (LEAVE). One-word clues are inherently tricky and this one is no exception. I like the aura of formality around this answer: "By your leave …."
  • 22A: Elite octet (IVIES). We were just talking about the NCAA basketball tournament "Elite Eight" yesterday, but today the "Elite octet" refers to the eight Ivy League schools.
  • 59A: Stage group (CREW). I tried CAST first.
  • 71A: Worry about (SWEAT). My favorite clue in the puzzle. "Dont' sweat it!"
  • 53D: His Super Bowl MVP performance was his last NFL game (ELWAY). Not a huge football fan so I didn't know this bit of trivia, but am glad to know it now.
  • 52D: Out (DATED) and 54D: Out (LOOSE). As I mentioned earlier, one-word clues are inherently tricky. And even more so when you have a particular definition in your head and need to come up with another one! (I like this kind of trickiness.)
  • 62D: Comedy routine infielder ... (WHAT) 64D: ... and Bud's partner in the routine (LOU). A reference to the famous "Who's On First?" comedy skit. But you knew that.
Crosswordese 101: In German, the word for the article "a" is EINE. Sometimes EINE will be clued simply as "German article." Other times, the word "article" will appear in the clue, but there will only be a hint that the answer you need is German (e.g., "Aachen article," "Berlin article," "Article in Der Spiegel.") EINE is most often clued using Mozart's well-known piece "EINE kleine Nachtmusik," but today — probably because it's Friday — we get the less-well-known 19D: Strauss's "EINE Nacht in Venedig."

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Everything Else 10A: May or Ann (CAPE); 15A: Natural shade (ECRU); 20A: Warning (OMEN); 21A: Understanding words (I SEE); 23A: Paragon of redness (BEET); 25A: Maneuver (FINESSE); 32A: 1,000-yr. realm (HRE); 37A: Arabic is one of its two official langs. (ISR.); 38A: Surfer's guide (SITE MAP); 43A: Suffix with grammar (-IANS); 45A: Nonsense (ROT); 46A: Links coup (EAGLE); 52A: Biblical betrayer (DELILAH); 55A: __ dixit (IPSE); 56A: Up in the air (ALOFT); 57A: They may be wild (OATS); 66A: Relax (EASE); 69A: Batik artist (DYER); 70A: Tech support caller (USER); 1D: As well (ALSO); 2D: Chew (out) (REAM); 3D: Gander, e.g. (MALE); 4D: It's as likely as not (EVEN BET); 6D: Bothers (GETS TO); 7D: Dull discomfort (ACHE); 8D: Timber producer (TREE FARM); 9D: Pension start? (SUS-); 10D: Transmits (CONVEYS); 11D: They're not pros (ANTIS); 12D: Famille members (P`ERES); 13D: "Family Ties" mom (ELYSE); 18D: Feudal holding (FIEF); 26D: Notion (IDEA); 27D: Former Cunard fleet member, for short (Q.E. II); 28D: Starry-eyed bear? (URSA); 29D: Make (EARN); 30D: Bonnie Blue's daddy (RHETT); 34D: "I hate the Moor" speaker (IAGO); 36D: Manner (MIEN); 40D: Points of initial progress (TOEHOLDS); 41D: Some motel guests (PETS); 47D: Recanted in embarrassment (ATE CROW); 49D: Der __: Adenauer epithet (ALTE); 50D: "That sly come __ stare": "Witchcraft" lyric (HITHER); 58D: Play to __ (A TIE); 60D: Cryptic character (RUNE); 65D: QB's scores (TD'S).

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