Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: "WHERE'S WALDO?" (35A: Question posed by a 1987 children's best seller) -
And your theme-revealing answer:
43A: This puzzle's answer to 35-Across (spelled out four times) (in the corner)
The word WALDO extends out from each corner of the puzzle diagonally toward the center. The "(spelled out four times)" part of the clue is not only confusing (that parenthetical remark has no clear referent), but it's completely unnecessary. If the answer is IN THE CORNER, then we can look and see, as I did, "Ooh, there it is ... and there and there and there." It's a very inventive theme, one with a non-standard spatial expression much more typical of a Thursday puzzle than a Tuesday puzzle. There are really only two theme-related answers, and the four answers that look as though they should be theme answers (long, one in each quadrant) are simply ... answers. Nothing to do with one another. Strange and kind of cool. I thought the puzzle had to go to odd and/or crappy fill a little too much to execute its theme, but overall it was a pleasing puzzle to do, if only for its originality and unexpectedness.
I already told you all of them.
One of the benefits of not using up all your long answers on the theme is that you have lots of cool long answers to play with, and these are all good, or at least interesting. I don't really like MOLTEN METAL (26D: Material used in casting) - doesn't seem a coherent enough phrase to me. Plus I had MELTED METAL :( And TOILET WATER, also, don't like (6D: Light perfume). It's got the word "TOILET" in it ... so I say 'veto.' I love the other long stuff, though. MONTICELLO (61A: Building seen on a nickel) and ELLIPTICAL (17A: Like many planetary orbits) complement each other nicely (something about the double-Ls), and NILES CRANE (11D: 1990s-2000s sitcom shrink) feels pretty fresh to me (though I never watched "Frasier" with any regularity, i.e. I think I've seen maybe 3 or 4 episodes in my life). The clue on PERSONAL AD (31D: Purchase of one who's looking for love) is a bit sad/odd, but I like the answer. BLOW-UP DOLL also fits.
There were some zinger in today's puzzle - stuff I just didn't know, stuff that seemed pretty exotic. Should have known OSMAN (50D: Ottoman Turk leader), probably, but didn't. Had ASMAN, I think ... or something close. Could have been ASLAN for all I knew. Didn't help that it crossed the equally exotic and even more obscure ARIANE (65A: French satellite launcher) - and at a vowel. Yeesh (Var. of JEEZ). Then there's today's European river, SAAR (64A: Moselle tributary), which I haven't seen in a while, and which is helping to create quite an A-fest down there in the SW. Doesn't help that I couldn't locate the Moselle on a map if you paid me to do so. Everything else in the puzzle seemed easily gettable.
- 15A: "The Tempest" king (Alonso) - aargh. Forgot this completely.
- 22A: Ranch visitor (dude) - goes nicely with 39A: Western pal (pard), which is one of the most hilarious westernisms I can think of.
- 26A: Long March participants (Maoists) - mmm, three consecutive vowels.
- 29A: Airer of Congressional proceedings (C-Span) - er, "airer"
- 32A: Bout stopper, for short (TKO) - er, "stopper"
- 38A: Fighter for Jeff Davis (reb) - er, "fighter" etc.
- 49A: Indian oven (tandoor) - wife thought for sure that it was TANDOORI, confusing (I guess) the food with the oven it is cooked in. Actually, TANDOORI is the adjectival form of TANDOOR.
- 67A: Gum globs (wads) - yuck. Nearly as bad as TOILET WATER. Only slightly worse than UDDERS (46D: Jersey parts?). UDDERS is actually good, word-wise, but something about cow teats and WADS and TOILET ... maybe not a perfect storm, but a storm of some kind.
- 68A: City with a view of Vesuvius (Naples) - wanted Pompeii or something like it.
- 69A: Do zigzags, maybe (sew) - total (educated) guess
- 10D: Maine's _____ National Park (Acadia) - never been to Maine. ACADIA always looks to me as if it's missing an "R"
- 44D: Bear, in Bolivia (oso) - there are bears in Bolivia?
- 29D: Breakfast cereal pioneer (C.W. Post) - "Pioneer," HA ha. Like he traveled to the unexplored West / outer space to discover new cereals...
- 23D: Man, in 68-Across (uomo) - I can't look at that word very long without getting creeped out.
- 25D: Candian "loonie" denomination (one) - also, The Loneliest Number
- 27D: It's "mightier," in a saying (the pen) - wow, that's horrible all around. Weird partial, clued quite awkwardly ("mightier" just cannot stand alone like that).
- 30D: Cascades peak (Shasta) - Driven past it many times in my life.
- 37D: Boxing Day mo. (Dec.) - would be fine, were it not for yet another month abbreviation in the puzzle: 54A: Equinox mo. (Sep).