Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Solving time: just over 8 (on paper)
THEME: SIDNEY POITIER (47A: Actor born Feb. 20, 1927) - lots of theme answers related to "47A"
Happy Birthday, Sidney Poitier. You are a fine actor. That said, I hated this puzzle. I mean, viscerally. I resented it. This was Thursday-hard for me, with many answers I didn't know or had never heard of. Also, there is some crap cluing. I actually froze and had that free-fall feeling that usually occurs only in Thursday+ puzzles. Thoroughly unpleasant. Old people will probably have loved it, as POITIER's career will have reminded them of their youth. Me, no. No no no. Would have liked it, Maybe, on a Thursday. Today, just rotten.
Luckily for you (and me), I have no time to write extensively on a Tuesday morning, so just the highlights (or lowlights).
- 1A: _____ Island, Bahamas, boyhood home of 47A (Cat) - right away, I'm annoyed. Never heard of CAT Island. What a stupid name for an island. And I know it's considered a constructing feat to cram in as many theme answers as possible, but could you make them good answers? Thanks.
- 7D: Gallery (loft) - what? WHAT? These are synonymous now? A GALLERY is where I go to see art, and a LOFT is where a farmer puts hay. Or maybe where one lives, if one is a pretentious urbanite.
- 8A: Brook sound (murmur) - Brooks BABBLE. They MURMUR only in Wordsworth poems. I resent this stupid trap, especially on a Tuesday. You clearly know who R.E.M is (52A: Michael Stipe's band), so why the @#$#@ couldn't you have clued 8A as [52A's debut album]?????!
- 21A: Autobiography of 47A: ("This Life") - Oh, of course, I read it often. Come on!!!! Again, no offense to Mr. Poitier, but this is rank obscurity - made worse by the fact that 11D: Gift givers (Magi) did not end in "S," as most plurals do, so I had "S" where the "I" in LIFE should have been.
- 16A: Discomfort (unease) - I just hate this word. It's legal, but icky
- 8D: Classic cigar brand (muriel) - Again, what? MURIEL's a lady's name. EL ROPO is better known to me than MURIEL.
35A: Computer acronym about faulty data (GIGO) - a distant cousin of the ridiculous "I GO," I presume. Maybe I've heard of this "acronym" somewhere, sometime, but if so, I can't recall. Yuck.
28A: Film starring 47A with a chart-topping title song ("To Sir With Love") - I enjoyed this film, and got this answer quickly. I love the song, which, to complete the R.E.M. (52A) trifecta in this puzzle, was sung (and recorded) live as a duet by Natalie Merchant and R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe at an inaugural celebration for President Clinton in 1993.
44A: Bamako's land (Mali) - whatever you say! This answer intersects the very, very lazy III (40D: Afternoon hour on a sundial) - see yesterday's MLII for a similar crappy use of Roman numerals.
54A: Debut film for 47A ("No Way Out") - does anyone Really know these answers? Or did you have to piece them together from crosses and inference like me!?! NO WAY OUT is a Kevin Costner film, as far as I know.
Here's a cutesy cluing technique I'm not that fond of - clue repetition:
50D: Relative of an ostrich (emu)
59A: Relative of an ostrich (rhea)
When asked what a RHEA is, my wife said, immediately, "It's a kind of a bird that looks a little bit like an ostrich." So somebody's heard of it. Not me. RHEA is the mother of the gods in Greek mythology, as far as I know. I claim that RHEA is Thursday fill, or Tuesday fill if the rest of the fill in the Tuesday grid is normal Tuesday level.
63A: Kind of acid used in bleaches (oxalic) - I give up. Puzzle wins. I cry "uncle." All this odd, off, difficult, yet not exciting fill has worn me down. I'm happy to say, though, per my many discussions of @#$#-ing European rivers, that I nailed OISE (69A: River to the Seine) with just the "O"; no great accomplishment for most people, perhaps, but it felt like a stroke of solving genius compared to most of my efforts in this grid.
I know I'm griping like a guy who couldn't even finish the puzzle, when technically I completed it in a vaguely respectable time. And like I said, most of my griping is a day-of-the-week thing. I have Tuesday expectations - I don't mind a snag or challenge, but solving this puzzle felt like slogging through mud. Possibly the hardest Tuesday puzzle I've done since I started blogging - oh, I take it back. I think the PFUI puzzle was a Tuesday. Maybe Tuesday is just a tricky day to get right - or there's just something wrong with me on Tuesdays. Who knows? Must go.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld