Friday, October 24, 2008

Friday, October 24, 2008

Title: Swiss Cheese
Author: Justin Smith
Theme: HOLE rebus
  • 20a: Song that includes woofs in its chorus (Who leT THE DOGS OUT). I got this right away, but as I listen to the song again, I can't tell if they're saying "woof woof woof" or "who who who". You decide.

  • 37a: What you might use to finish this puzzle (THREE hole PUNCH).

  • 57a: Unified entities (INTEGRATED WholeS).

  • And the crossings:
  • 18d: Irascibility (CholeR).

  • 28d: Reflecting no sound (ECholeSS).

  • 56d: Tevye's creator (SholeM).

I've got to be honest -- I was underwhelmed by this theme. Too many little things about it just rubbed me wrong. Let's take them in order of annoyance.

Firstly, the title was both too easy and too inapt. Swiss Cheese just screams HOLES, doesn't it? I mean, what else would one expect? But Swiss Cheese does not imply three equal-sized, regularly-spaced holes. The real theme of this puzzle is the three-hole punch, which is a fine concept. Unfortunately, it only allows for three rebus squares, which makes for kind of a ho-hum solve. But at least give it a title that fits, and save the Swiss Cheese title for another, more appropriate theme.

Secondly, I wasn't crazy about about the long fills. WHO LET THE DOGS OUT is great; no complaints there. The middle one defines the theme, so okay, though it's too bad HOLE has to sit there as a standalone word. But that's life. But INTEGRATED WHOLES is just kind of blah. I don't find it interesting, and I don't like that "wholes" sounds just like "holes" -- it would have been nicer to find a fill that hid the rebus more like the first one.

Thirdly, I wasn't crazy about the short fills. SHOLEM, CHOLER, and ECHOLESS? Not so much.

Fourthly, two 12-letter themes and an 11-letter theme make for a bit of an ugly grid. Late-week puzzles should be more open and elegant. Those 5-square blobs of black on the east and west coasts of the puzzle are unfortunate.

Finally, and yes we're getting really nitpicky here, it would be pretty difficult to actually use a three-hole punch to "complete" the puzzle (even if the size was correct), since the holes run diagonally. You can usually only get about an inch or so of the paper's margin into the machine. :)

The Rest:

  • 4a: Professor played by Christopher Lloyd (PLUM). Never saw this 1985 film of "Clue", but didn't need to. My first thought was "Back to the Future", and I couldn't remember his name there so I skipped past it. It's Dr. Emmett Brown, if you were wondering.

  • 14a: Main man? (TAR). The main is the ocean.

  • 15a: "The ___ Report" (1976 book) (HITE). A book on female sexuality that came out when I was 14; of course I read it.

  • 16a: Prominent Shaker (ANN LEE).

  • 17a: 2000 Best Picture nominee (CHOCOLAT).

  • 19a: 1995 A.L. MVP (Mo VAUGHN). He was with the Red Sox at the time. Here's one of my favorite Mo Vaughn moments. Aaron Sele throws tight on George Bell, who charges the mound. Sele steps aside and Mo Vaughn comes charging in from the first base side and flattens Bell. Good stuff. Check it out here.

  • 22a: Secretly (SUBROSA). According to the American Heritage Dictionary: "from the practice of hanging a rose over a meeting as a symbol of confidentiality". I much prefer the cone of silence, myself.

  • 24a: Reuss River's canton (URI). I'm sure I've seen this in puzzles before. I knew it was going to be vowel-consonant-vowel, but I needed crossings to nail it.

  • 25a: It contains uracil (RNA). If you say so.

  • 26a: Carbon-date, e.g. (AGE). Nice clue.

  • 27a: Unlike absolute values: Abbr. (NEG). Absolute values are positive by definition.

  • 29a: Bass parts (PEGS). I guess tuning pegs. Are there other pegs on a bass? Not on mine.

  • 44a: Subject of a museum in Austin, Minnesota (SPAM). Somehow I knew the answer here was SPAM. I couldn't have told you where the Spam Museum was, but my subconscious must have remembered.

  • 49a: Start to go? (GEE). Cryptic letter clue. Potty humor.

  • 51a: "This Is the Life" singer Macdonald (AMY). This is not music I tend to listen to. Here it is:

  • 53a: Broadway success (HIT SHOW).

  • 60a: Very ardent (RAH RAH).

  • 61a: Premature (UNTIMELY).

  • 64a: Eponymous pants wearer Bloomer (AMELIA).

  • 3d: Cow (BROWBEAT). Excellent.

  • 6d: Jazz fan, perhaps (UTAHAN). The problem with sports teams moving from city to city is that their names no longer make sense. The New Orleans Jazz was a very logical team name. So were the Minneapolis Lakers, for that matter. What's next, the Buffalo Heat?

  • 8d: Degust (SAVOR). Degust sounds a lot less pleasant that savor, doesn't it?

  • 9d: Caterpillar roll component (UNAGI). Crossword constructors must have given great praise when sushi went mainstream.

  • 12d: Like many a moved picture (REHUNG). Also, the title of an email reply regarding "American Idol" season three?

  • 13d: Good dishers (YENTAS). Not really tricky at all. Is there another meaning of disher besides one who spreads gossip?

  • 31d: Runner-up to Secretariat in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness (SHAM). Nobody remembers the losers.

  • 33d: Part of WYSIWYG (SEE). What you see is what you get.

  • 36d: Roadhouse (INN).

  • 38d: Good class for a lazybones (EASY A).

  • 39d: International waters (HIGH SEAS). Also, the main.

  • 42d: Defunct GM brand (GEO).

  • 45d: Where balboas are spent (PANAMA). For some reason, I knew this. I think there was a currency puzzle a while back with ROCKY BALBOA in it, wasn't there? Ah yes, here it is... August 6th.

  • 46d: Upstanding music? (ANTHEM). Cute.

  • 52d: "South Park" puppet (MR HAT). Very nice.

  • 58d: Oil company founder Halliburton (ERLE). Seen this before. Still didn't remember.

  • 59d: Narwhal's protrusion (TUSK).

Despite the underwhelming theme, this wasn't a bad puzzle. Just not one of my favorites.

Thanks for listening.

- Pete M.


Janie said...

perhaps i'm too easily pleased, but this one was very much a smile-inducing puzzle for me -- because of the theme, the specific (progressive) way it was placed in the grid and because of the theme fill. found THREEHOLEPUNCH to be very vivid -- and thought not so much of the physical desk object, but more of a fanciful kind of boxing maneuver.

so -- i just had fun with this one.

also enjoyed the mini nautical theme with TAR and then the crossing of AYE and HIGHSEAS.




Joon said...

i liked it, too, but it felt easy for a friday sun. i think it's my best ever friday sun solving time, even faster than back in july or whenever when "ogden porter" and his playbill puzzles ran on a friday.

fwiw, S()M and C()R both floated my boat. EC()SS is kind of an ugly word in a vacuum, but the way (hole) fits into it across an etymologic boundary is cool.

some teams change their names when they move. we don't have the minnesota senators, or the texas senators. and at least we're not going to be subjected to the oklahoma city supersonics.