Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday, February 13, 2009

Title: Wacky Weekend Warrior
Author: Trip Payne
Theme: None, in the traditional manner of speaking.

The Wacky Weekend Warrior is a Trip Payne specialty that comes around every once in a while. Some people might find it off-putting, as the vast majority of fill are not real words or common phrases. In fact, most of it is quite contrived or totally fabricated. But does that make it unfair? I suppose it could easily be, for what are the rules and standards of a puzzle that, by definition, is breaking the rules and standards? I'm not sure that there's a definitive answer to that question. Perhaps it totally a judgement call. But I can tell you this: I found absolutely nothing unfair in this puzzle. In fact, I thought it was surprisingly easy -- much moreso than I expected based on the recollection of my last experience with a WWW. The reason it wasn't too hard, I think, is because most of the wacky phrases are combinations of two words that are common enough, but just aren't typically used together. And the clues to each half, at least in this puzzle, were pretty straightforward. So, just let your mind go and trust your instincts, and things fall apart nicely. It may be an advantage if you're one of those people, as I am, who tend to coin their own words via the application of standard English patterns where they don't necessarily belong. So for me, for example, MAZERS was an immediate gimme.

And let's look at the obvious benefits of this wackiruleiositude: a wide-open, 52-word themeless, with only 22 black squares. No 3-letter words! Only four 4-letter words! Trust me, that's hard to do using a standard dictionary. And it's beautifully solvable, and entertaining to boot. And isn't that what puzzles are all about?

I won't be blogging any of the "normal" fill(and there wasn't much). We'll take a purely wackiscenic approach.

Sunny Spots:

  • 19a: It might read "Home: Who cares; Away: Whatever" (BORED SCOREBOARD). I just love this clue.

  • 23a: Remove all the males from (DE-MAN). I'm thankful this was clued without reference to surgery of any kind.

  • 26a: Garden Ornaments "R" Us customer, sometimes (GNOME PICKER).

  • 28a: What cheerleaders clean their equipment with (POM-POM BRUSHES).

  • 44a: The scourge of one-celled supervillains everywhere (ALGAEMAN). This is by far my favorite fill! "Algaeman away!"

  • 6d: What the word "powwwwoww" needs (LESS W). There's something beautifully elegant about this one (all politics aside). Love it.

  • 7d: Craze that led to the infamous Guacamole Riots (AVOCADO MANIA). I'm not sure if this should be all one word or not. I guess it doesn't much matter, since nobody will ever use it again.

  • 1a: Flabbergasts the Hollywood community (STUNS L.A.). Also, what the Celtics team does (again) this next playoff season.

  • 8a: Labyrinth creators (MAZERS). As I said above, this was the first entry I put in. What else could it be?

  • 14a: How clothier Strauss ended his letters (LOVE, LEVI).

  • 16a: Topnotch ring of flowers (ACE LEI).

  • 17a: Where armor eyeholes are located (ON A VISOR).

  • 18a: Former flame of basketball player Malone (KARL EX).

  • 21a: Old video game company dwindles down (ATARI WANES).

  • 24a: David's golf cart, perhaps (DUVAL RIDE). This took me longer than it should have because I wasn't expecting the two halves to relate. In other words, I wasn't thinking of golfers named David; I figured it was some reference to the Biblical David.

  • 31a: Atticus to Scout, or Sarabi to Simba (MOVIE PARENT).

  • 32a: What corkscrews do (OPEN WINES).

  • 39a: What you might expect in a mixed drink called a White Jamaican (MILK AND RUM).

  • 41a: Running mate of Nia "C.C." McCain? (SARAH PALINDROME). You have to notice that Nia "C.C." McCain is a palindrome to get this.

  • 43a: What a two-letter Romance-language translation of "the" might be (IL OR EL).

  • 45a: Steal diamonds, slangily (NAB ICE).

  • 46a: Auction offer from actor Pickens (SLIM'S BID). "What we've got here is... failure to communicate!"

  • 48a: Notice a soft drink (SEE SODA).

  • 1d: Commercial aimed at the untidy (SLOB AD).

  • 2d: Jot down, infinitively (TO NOTE).

  • 3d: Charlottesville school's sheep, for short (U.V.A. RAM).

  • 5d: Problem after the nave was waxed (SLIDING PEW).

  • 8d: Says "I tried needlepoint twice, but I was only so-so," for example (MAKES A PUN).

  • 10d: Hyphenated word meaning "completely flat" (ZERO-ARCH).

  • 11d: Capable of scatting to a jazz orchestra, e.g. (ELLA-LIKE).

  • 12d: Wears away further (RE-ERODES).

  • 13d: More than five bucks (SIX DEER).

  • 15d: Rain protectors that would be very likely to rust (IRON UMBRELLAS). Another one I got right away.

  • 20d: Silversmithing, reading lantern code, etc. (REVERE SKILLS).

  • 25d: "Please pay attention to me, madam," à la Mike Hammer (LISTEN, DAME).

  • 27d: Feature of a clear complexion (NO PIMPLES).

  • 28d: Economist Greenspan, after succeeding Benedict (POPE ALAN). There's some definite amusement factor here.

  • 29d: Put on too many terry cloth garments at once (OVERROBE).

  • 30d: Operatic solo about a fur coat (MINK ARIA).

  • 31d: What cleaning tools bring up in confessionals (MOP SINS).

  • 35d: Brass instrument at 25% off? (TROMBO). This is almost a cryptic, removing 25% (two) of the eight letters in TROMBONE.

  • 36d: Charity concert for ornamental flowers (MUM AID). Very nice.

The Downsides:
There are a few clunker fills. Mostly partials, which in a "normal" puzzle don't typically exceed five letters.
  • 4d: "___ dull moment!" (NEVER A).

  • 9d: It might be hailed (A CAB).

  • 34d: Wear ___ (something Uncle Miltie used to do) (A DRESS).

  • 37d: ___ text (do some editing) (EMEND A).

What more can I say? I enjoyed this puzzle thoroughly.

Thanks for listening.

- Pete M.


Joon said...

fun, for sure. and i loved ALGAEMAN. but where's my UNRESHAMPOOABLE?

Jim Finder said...

I love Trip's Wacky puzzles whenever I see them. May lead me someday to buy one of his books. Great review I agree completely.