May 13, 2011
- 20A: Red-hot entrée? (HELL'S CHICKEN).
- 33A: Bather using magnesium sulfate? (SALTED TUBBER).
- 42A: Avoidance of chewy candy? (NON-TAFFY DIET).
- 58A: Best man's moment of uncertainty? (TOAST STAMMER).
[Some of you might have noticed that it's like practically dinnertime and I'm finally getting the post up. Blogger was essentially broken this morning when I tried to post. Looks like it's back. Hope we don't have any issues ....]
I hate to say this, but I just need to tell you right up front: I have no love for this puzzle. This puzzle is a mess. The theme is a mess, the fill is a mess, there was a typo in the version I solved (it might have been corrected by the time you got yours) — just a mess all the way around. I'm not going to spend a lot of time on this ... I just can't. But let's talk about a couple things. First of all the base phrases used for the theme are all over the map. HELL'S KITCHEN is interesting, TOAST MASTER is okay, SALTED BUTTER is deadly boring, and NON-FATTY DIET isn't a thing. The resulting phrases aren't much better and the cluing is ... blah.
As for the fill, you know it's not good when I can hardly get past ACTO, IS A, ID'ED ("31D: Challenged, in a way?" Huh?), and BETE to find something good to say. The northeast and southwest corners were particularly subpar, each for a different reason. I found the northeast damn near impossible, which isn't something I mind too terribly much if there's a payoff, but there definitely isn't one here. And in the southwest, there's just no excuse for APSE and T-TOP to be right together like that in a corner where you can basically fill it however you want. Sure, you get your Z this way, but it's not a fair trade-off by any stretch of the imagination.
So yeah. I think I'm basically gonna just stop now. And just so this write-up isn't a total loss, I'll leave you with this:
Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
- 17A: Shipmate of Starkey (SMEE).
- 41A: Roman existence (ESSE).
- 57A: Sweater letter (RHO).
- 61A: Altar neighbor (APSE).
- 22D: Biblical pottage recipient (ESAU).
- 46D: "The Sound of Music" baroness (ELSA).
Everything Else — 1A: Newspaper section (DESK); 5A: Deafening (AROAR); 10A: Drop hints, say (FISH); 14A: Required payment (ANTE); 15A: Regional woodland (SILVA); 16A: Strength (AREA); 18A: Donny and Marie's hometown (OGDEN); 19A: "In my opinion ..." ("I SAY..."); 23A: Night class subj. (ESL); 24A: Observance (RITE); 25A: Book before Job (ESTHER); 29A: Siskiyou County peak (SHASTA); 31A: "Life __ Highway": 1992 Tom Cochrane hit (IS A); 32A: Charlottesville sch. (UVA); 37A: It's heard around the water cooler (GLUG); 40A: Schiller's "An die Freude," e.g. (ODE); 47A: "Aladdin" monkey (ABU); 48A: Actor Gulager (CLU); 49A: Nats division (N.L. EAST); 53A: Beefsteak, for one (TOMATO); 55A: Sign of disrespect (SASS); 61A: Altar neighbor (APSE); 64A: Associate with (TIE TO); 65A: Phone button letters (OPER); 66A: Bantu language (ZULU); 67A: Matrimony, for one (UNION); 68A: Tannin source (WINE); 69A: "Smokey and the Bandit" vehicle feature (T-TOP); 70A: Rigatoni alternative (PENNE); 71A: Hang (STAY); 1D: Bolts (DASHES); 2D: Get tangled (ENMESH); 3D: Designer McCartney (STELLA); 4D: Nautical beam (KEEL); 5D: Not prone to making small talk (ASOCIAL); 6D: Entitlement (RIGHT); 7D: Classic number (OLDIE); 8D: "Voulez-vous coucher __ moi?": "Lady Marmalade" lyric (AVEC); 9D: Most objectionable (RANKEST); 10D: Timid (FAINT); 11D: Sched. producer (IRS); 12D: Vast quantity (SEA); 13D: Horse power? (HAY); 21D: Sp. title (SRTA.); 26D: Nerve centers (HUBS); 27D: New Years' highlights (EVES); 28D: Like white rhinos and black swans (RARE); 30D: Certain NCO (SSGT); 31D: Challenged, in a way (ID'ED); 34D: Meatless protein source (TOFU); 35D: Eponymous ice cream maker (EDY); 36D: Nice beast (BETE); 37D: Punkie, e.g. (GNAT); 38D: Timber wolf (LOBO); 39D: Word in a coined phrase? (UNUM); 43D: X-__: tool brand (ACTO); 44D: Rise, as a balloon (FLOAT UP); 45D: Not debatable (IN STONE); 50D: Secret spot? (ARMPIT); 51D: Jungle queen (SHEENA); 52D: Early 20th-century presidential portraitist (TORREY); 54D: Absorbed eagerly (ATE UP); 55D: Hofbrau vessel (STEIN); 56D: __ Martin (ASTON); 59D: Math ratio (SINE); 60D: Cuts (MOWS); 61D: HIV-treating drug (AZT); 62D: Bear's option, on Wall Street (PUT); 63D: __-pitch (SLO).