Monday, May 14, 2007

Ego trip

Tuesday's puzzle is Eye-Catching by Alan Arbesfeld. It comes with this SPOILER WARNING: Don't read any further until you've done today's New York Sun Crossword Puzzle. New York Sun puzzles are every bit as good as the more well-known New York Times, and they're indisputably better in one way -- they're free. You can download this puzzle and join in on the fun here.

The theme here is two word-phrases with an i added to each of the words, like so:

17A: Prejudices from a yellow fleet?
28A: Serving profession? (WAiTERMETiER)
46A: Lacquer a big pipe? (STAiNTH
61A: Order concerning Amtrak vehicles? (TRAiNSFiAT)

To which I say, ahnh. It's clever but the resulting answers are not particularly amusing in any way. My favorite is "Stain the main" and even there I think it would have been funnier clued as "Lacquer an ocean" rather than ". . . a big pipe". And I know it's only Tuesday, but c'mon -- "Amtrak vehicles" is there a more obvious way to clue "trains"?

Wit and wordplay (two things the Sun is famous for) are strangely lacking here. Other than the themed entries, there are only two clues with question marks. 33D: Mr. Loaf, to his friends? (MEAT) (which you could probably get even if you'd never heard of the genius behind "Paradise by the Dashboard Light") and the very last clue in the puzzle 69A: Ball-bearing person (SEER) which is actually kinda clever.

2D: Onetime rival of Coleco (ATARI) This clue is poorly-worded at best, it makes it sound like Atari is no longer with us when in fact it's still in the video game biz, while Coleco (COnnecticut LEather COmpany) went belly-up in 1989 and was always better known for Cabbage-Patch Kids than their ColecoVision.

67A: Phat (BOSS) strikes me as b
ogus too. Phat is a modern (or 90's maybe) term and "Boss" is what? 50's? 40's?

1D: Make a request (for) P
UTIN This one tripped me up for a moment. I put down "plead."

34D: "I ate his liver with some ____ beans and a nice chianti": H
annibal Lechter (FAVA) Even if you're not a cannibal you can appreciate fava beans. They've been eaten for thousands of years and are also known as Windsor beans, horse beans, pigeon beans and broad beans (even though technically they're not a bean, they're a pea.)

NYMPHET is not a word you see often in crosswords
(40A: Dirty old man's obsession, perhaps) One of my favorite writers, Russell Hoban, says "A dirty old man is the only kind of old man there is." As unofficial spokesman for the DOMA (Dirty Old Men of America) I can tell you that we're not all interested in nymphets. But the word "perhaps" prevents me from quibbling about this clue. And I do like the word "nymphet" which I just noticed is NY MET with a PH in the middle -- Hey, maybe somebody should do a crossword where they hide the letters PH in a baseball team. Call it "PH 9" or something. (Note to constructors: you're welcome to this idea; just send my share of the royalties to Green Genius, Inc.)

39D: Legendary jazz pianist who worked with Tiny Grimes and Slam Stewart (ARTTATUM) Sorry, never heard of him, and I'm sure he's a musical genius. Maybe he's even another Django Reinhardt. I love music, but I'm a moron whose tastes never matured much beyond Mr. Loaf.


Rex Parker said...

Wow, I had a Totally different reaction to this puzzle. It blew my mind. When I solved it at the NYS site, the title of puzzle and puzzle author didn't load, so I did it "blind." I stopped multiple times to say 'wow' - SHEILA E, ART TATUM, FAVA BEANS, RUN-DMC, I, ROBOT, NYMPHET, DEAD PAN, -A-LULA -- I loved them all. Theme was nice, too, I thought. Cluing was especially good. If you're gonna have MEAT in the puzzle, why Not clue it [Mr. Loaf, to his friends?].

I honestly thought this was one of the best Tuesday puzzles in recent memory.


Norrin2 said...

I seem to be alone in my tepid response to this puzzle. Oh well, maybe I just wasn't in the mood to be grabbed, I don't know.
So Rex, from now I'll address all future correspondense to you as:

Rex Parker
Corner of Sheila E and Fava Beans.