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 Post subject: Themeless Puzzle
 Post Posted: Wed Jul 21, 2010 10:31 am 
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Joined: Sun Sep 21, 2008 4:01 am
Posts: 146
Location: Tshwane/Port Elizabeth
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I haven't uploaded a themeless here before, and I wasn't going to put this one up here, but...

I uploaded this puzzle at a certain crossword website, and I think I made people die... As in it was more-than-half-the-solvers-gave-up hard. So I'm curious if it really is that hard even to experienced puzzle folks like yourselves, and if it's still FUN hard, and not BLAH hard. I've been actually meaning to upload a Themeless for critique here, but I haven't made one I've felt is nearly good enough. We'll see with this.


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 Post subject: Re: Themeless Puzzle
 Post Posted: Wed Jul 21, 2010 9:45 pm 
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Joined: Sat Sep 20, 2008 4:49 pm
Posts: 273
Location: somerville, ma
it was not too hard (4:50 in across lite, like an easyish NYT friday or a normal LAT saturday). more to the point, it was pretty fun. some really nice stuff: 3d (yay green day), 20a, 35a (chuckle), 37d, 39d, 47a (although the way i understand that word, i think your clue is a bit off, unless you're talking about a so-bad-it's-funny sitcom). only two utter unknowns, although one was the long down at 11d (other was 25d, which i would only have gotten if you had clued it as {Barcelona fullback ___ Alves}). having said that, i still have no idea what 11d is all about, and 15s in a themeless are held to a high standard. oh, i guess i also wasn't familiar with 6d as clued (is it also a verb meaning pet-sit?).

there's also a bit more here that's undesirable: abbrevs, crosswordese (14a, 15a, 22a, 58a, 59a, 63a, 4d) and some awkward inflected forms (13d, 44d, 45d, 54d, 62a). none of these is all that bad on its own, but probably the overall amount is a bit high for a themeless.

some excellent clues. my favorite was 41a, but 38d, 2d were also nice. and most of the fact-based clues. 18a dupes an important word in the grid. i feel there must be a word (or name) missing from the 10d clue. 24a clue isn't transitive enough. i'm not seeing the clue/answer equivalence on 40a.

on the whole, it was a fun puzzle because there wasn't any cringe-worthy fill and your cluing is very smooth. next time you attempt one of these, you might want to try for either super-smooth fill in a somewhat lower word count (à la patrick berry, although mere mortals can hardly aspire to such standards) or some more pizzazz/freshness (à la BEQ) to catch the eye of an editor.


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 Post subject: Re: Themeless Puzzle
 Post Posted: Wed Jul 21, 2010 11:00 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 10:06 pm
Posts: 46
A solid hard-Friday/Saturday time for me, and that's with using the check function a couple of times.

I'd like to echo a lot of what Joon wrote, with a few exceptions.

Joon is right about 40-Across. "Due for" matches with "in for", so the clue for DUE should read [In (for)]

11-Down was one of the first answers I filled in. Since neither BOOM BOOM WASHINGTON nor FREDDIE WASHINGTON fit, it had to be VINNIE BARBARINO. (Joon, that's from "Welcome Back Kotter". Required viewing for all school kids in the '75-'76 and '76-'77 seasons.) I, conversely, had no clue about 3-Down. (I know "Basket Case" and not much more.)

I got 24-A right away and it looks fine to me.

Most of it was fun-tough, except for a few spots. I don't understand the clues [Use a diaphragm] for INSPIRE or [Pet] for SNIT. Also, the clue at 7-D ["Nothin' doin'!"] seems to clue NO WAY or NO HOW or GET BENT. A SNAP needs something more like ["No prob!"], but maybe that's a case of the ol' seperated-by-a-common-language syndrome(?).

The [His ___] NIPS / DANI [___ California] crossing also required letter-roulette/check. Not familiar with either one of those phrases. (The only DANI I know of is Dani Harrison, guitar-playing son of George.)

Didn't know of that particular ELSA, and still don't know who ANGE and ENNIO were. Don't know what comic Fred the BASSET is in. Never heard of ILLYRIA and needed every crossing, playing letter-roulette at the STOAT crossing to finally finish the puzzle.

Loved a lot of the clues/entries that Joon pointed out and I'll specifically mention 37-D, 39-D, 35-A, 21-D, 6-D.

All cluing aside, the only fill-centric problem area (publication-wise) that I see is the ENNIO-STOAT-ILLYRIA area. It'd be hard to make a foothold entry out of any of them without changing the corner to STOAS / DOS.

EDIT TO ADD:

P.S. What the @#$% is "His nips"? Oh, sure. I could google it. But, as a child of the '70s, I still prefer the good ol', pre-internet "explain yerself" approach. :P


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 Post subject: Re: Themeless Puzzle
 Post Posted: Thu Jul 22, 2010 7:37 am 
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Joined: Sat Sep 20, 2008 4:49 pm
Posts: 273
Location: somerville, ma
his NIBS, not nips. it's a cribbage thing, although it's also used as a mock title for a self-important man. ILLYRIA is the setting of twelfth night, ENNIO morricone, ANGE = french angel.


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 Post subject: Re: Themeless Puzzle
 Post Posted: Thu Aug 26, 2010 8:03 pm 
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Joined: Mon Sep 22, 2008 8:07 pm
Posts: 579
Location: New York, NY
I'm no doubt not the one to answer the question. While I do almost every Friday or Saturday puzzle, TV and factoid clues mostly elude or annoy me. So I hope you won't take it amiss that I'm in the oddity of a more or less expert category that falls in with your previous experience. I'm going to have to give up.

I have the central column, although there I found a lot I can't be sure of: short shift on a ship, Fred, _ California, Wednesday's portrayer, who George or that song was. I don't recognize any of them, although the name with George is obviously familiar. Nothing doing' means to me "no way," and I have "a snap," which means exactly the opposite.

For the other two columns I have almost nothing so will probably give it up. Obviously each is anchored by a long TV clue, but there's much else obscure to me (Animaniac, mstelid, much else). I keep having a feeling you tried too hard to make it hard, as with the obscure clue for a famous American artist. A Friday paper would have found a different way to be deceptive.

Sorry to be so negative. I know you worked hard on this.


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