Sunday, December 25, 2022
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Toluca lucre / SUN 12-25-22 / Nickname of Looney Tunes animator Ben Hardaway / Grilled cornmeal cake widespread in Latin America / Purple-crayon-carrying boy of youngsters’s literature / Cat breed with a shabby-sounding title / Animal whose title comes from the Narragansett phrase for twig-eater / The Rose City so nicknamed for its pink sandstone

Constructor: John Martz

Relative issue: Medium

THEME: “Novel Thinking” — unusual phrases are clued as in the event that they associated to well-known novels:

[not by RLS!]

Theme solutions:

  • HOME PAGES (24A: “Little House on the Prairie,” e.g.?) (as a result of it is “pages” … a few “house”) (!?!?)
  • GHOSTWRITING (26A: “The Haunting of Hill House,” e.g.?) (as a result of it is “writing” … a few “ghost”)
  • FLUID VOLUME (40A: “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” e.g.?) (as a result of it is a “quantity” … set in “fluid” (i.e. the ocean)) 
  • SECOND STORY (45A: “Back to Treasure Island,” e.g.?) (as a result of it is the “second” a part of the “Treasure Island” “story”) (?!?!?!)
  • PRISON SENTENCES (61A: “Crime and Punishment,” e.g.?) (as a result of it is “sentences” a few “jail”) (there’s not likely a jail on this guide, I do not suppose, however … OK)
  • ADDRESS BOOK (80A: “If Beale Street Could Talk,” e.g.?) (as a result of it is a “guide” about an … “handle”)
  • ANIMAL PRINT (89A: “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” e.g.?) (as a result of it’s a “print” (properly, printed materials, anyway) about an “animal”)
  • WORKING TITLE (99A: “The Help,” e.g.?) (as a result of it’s a “title” about people who find themselves “working”)
  • BUZZ WORDS (105A: “The Secret Life of Bees,” e.g.?) (as a result of it’s “phrases” about creatures that “buzz”)

Word of the Day: “The Haunting of Hill House” (26A) —

The Haunting of Hill House is a 1959 gothic horror novel by American writer Shirley Jackson. A finalist for the National Book Award and regarded probably the greatest literary ghost tales revealed through the twentieth century, it has been made into two function movies and a play, and is the premise of a Netflix sequence. Jackson’s novel depends on terror somewhat than horror to elicit emotion within the reader, utilizing complicated relationships between the mysterious occasions in the home and the characters’ psyches. (wikipedia)

• • •

So a lot Christmas disappointment. First of all, the vacation *really* falls on the crossword’s massive day (actually, the most important day), and also you … move? I’ve seen so many vacation puzzles revealed on holiday-adjacent days, however right here you have got the chance to hit it proper on the cash and … nothing. But OK, you are not feeling festive, that is fantastic, however it’s an enormous vacation, plenty of folks sitting round doing nothing, avoiding household, no matter, so plenty of individuals are going to be doing this one; certainly you are gonna put forth your “A” sport—one thing actually spectacular. But … no. It’s an unusual, workmanlike effort that stretches the idea of “wordplay” too skinny and customarily yields no laughs, chuckles, guffaws, or different gleeful noises. The “novel” idea simply would not work right here, in that so many of those “novel”-related phrases are solely horrifically vaguely associated to precise novels. “Book,” “quantity,” nice, “story,” OK, however after that the connection turns into tenuous and the phrases develop into fragments of novels so small that they may relate to any piece of writing. Like “writing.” Or “title.” And “sentences?” “Words?” The entire “Novel” conceit simply would not maintain up. 

And but … if the theme solutions had been themselves snappy and enjoyable and clearly novel-related, I might nonetheless have been completely happy. But …”HOME”?? The connection to “Little House on the Prairie” is simply … HOME? They’re PAGES about … HOME? Because … what, “home” means “HOME?” The entire factor is literal to a painful diploma, such that it would not even matter what the novels are literally about. A fox *is* an animal, the assistance … work, I suppose. So you do not even get the spark of some actual thematic connection between novels and theme solutions. In the case of PRISON SENTENCES, it is like there isn’t any connection in any respect. I simply learn a abstract of “Crime and Punishment” and (as I assumed) there isn’t any “PRISON” in it in any respect, besides within the epilogue. But I suppose that “punishment” for “crime” is (usually) “PRISON,” so … ok?  In the case of SECOND STORY, the content material of the novel actually actually Really would not matter. Nothing significantly “Treasure Island”-y in any respect there. Could’ve used actually any sequel in that clue. Sigh. I really like novels, however I simply do not get this theme. Or I do get it, however I can’t really feel no matter it’s that is purported to make it joyful to resolve.

The puzzle was not arduous, however it was slow-going with the theme solutions, largely because of points mentioned above (i.e. I couldn’t make sense of the solutions as a result of their connections to the novels in query appeared so wispy). I’d get the entrance finish of a solution and nonetheless do not know concerning the again finish, after which vice versa. But this simply meant hacking at crosses—by no means actually getting caught. I might simply have completed with an error, since I had *no* concept what the animator’s nickname was purported to be at 1A: Nickname of Looney Tunes animator Ben Hardaway (who???), so I needed to get all of it from crosses, and let me inform you, GONG appeared like an excellent reply to 1D: Hit it! When that gave me GUGS for the animator’s nickname, I figured it should be proper—obscure clue for an obscure reply. But then my mind went, “yeesh, why did not they modify that first letter to one thing like [rolodexes through -UGS words] BUGS … oh … oh, dangle on! BUGSBUGS Bunny … after which BONG for [Hit it!] … yeah, that should be it. And now we’re again to ‘yeesh’.” If you’d had an affordable clue on BUGS, then you definately would not have had “Ben” within the clue and *then* you might’ve turned 76-Across from BON to BEN, which is healthier, but additionally a lot Much higher within the cross (altering NOONS 🙁 to NEONS :). 

Part of the puzzle I liked was the clue on T-BONE STEAK (69D: Cut with a letter opener?). That is every kind of devilish and good. Just an amazing double misdirect, with each “Cut” and “letter opener” knocking you off stability. That reply subsequent to BAD VIBES was the spotlight of the puzzle for me, for certain. LOOT BAGS threw me, as I do know them as MONEYBAGS, if I do know them in any respect. And PETRA actually threw me, as there was no “historic” within the clue and the one “Rose City” I do know (I assumed!) was Portland, OR. Yes, I remembered accurately: Portland is the “City of Roses” or “Rose City” (per wikipedia). And it is an precise metropolis that also exists, whereas PETRA is extra UNESCO website than metropolis now. What else? I had TEMPLE earlier than CHAPEL (14D: Place of worship), however that is the one actual mistake I made (in addition to GUGS, after all, LOL). Hope you appreciated this yet another than I did, and that you’re having a stunning Christmas or only a beautiful Sunday, whichever is extra significant to you. See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]



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