Sunday, April 14, 2013

"I Never Promised You A Rose Garden"

(I reproduced my completed grid instead of the solution printed in the paper to show you where I had some trouble in my solving process. Also please note there is an ERROR - 23a should be BOSC, not BOSo (but you probably already knew that). More on that later.

This week the Premier Crossword by Frank A. Longo is titled "Fishy Folks" which led me to think, correctly it turns out, that the theme answers would involve identifying persons whose names are in some way fishy.  Frank stocked the puzzle with an impressive array of piscene varieties, but getting them to appear in the grid was definitely not as easy as "shooting fish in a barrel". Here's the list:

16d - MARGARETWHITING (She sang "A Tree in the Meadow")
23a - OSCARHAMMERSTEIN ("Oklahoma!" lyricist)
31a - MOLLYRINGWALD ("Pretty in Pink" star)
43d - MARLINFITZWATER (Press secretary under Bush and Reagan)
44a - SALMONPCHASE (19th-century chief justice)
49a - EEL (Snaky fish)
56a - ZEBULONPIKE (Explorer for whom a Colorado peak is named)
69a - LANCEBASS (Member of 'N Sync)
80a - JULIANBREAM (Classical guitarist and lutenist)
91a - EDMUNDMUSKIE (1980-81 secretary of state)
103a-SYDNEYPOLLACK ("Tootsie" director)
117a-THEODORESTURGEON ("More Than Human" sci-fi novelist)

That's a lot of theme answers to cram into a 21 x 21 puzzle and kudos to Frank for pulling it off, but I have to say I think some of the names are pretty obscure. In fact there are some that I flat out never heard of and I never would have been able to finish the puzzle without knowing the theme.

The first thing I did  after I read the title was to scan the clues to see if there were any "?"-style clues to indicate there would be wacky answers, but there was not a solitary one to be found so I knew the cluing would be straight-forward - that's disappointing to me personally but certainly fair enough as I guess a barrel of fish can be as much fun as a barrel of laughs.

I'm generally not good with proper names so I was challenged by the theme right from the get-go but as I worked through the grid I realized that the non-theme fill also consisted of an uncommon number of names, mostly from the entertainment and literary ranks, that caused me a lot of consternation .  I won't recite them here but if you look at the clues reproduced at the top of the post you can see all of them identified with a tick-mark - there are 18 by my count, plus a couple of partial song lyrics I just noticed.  Let's just say that I am not up on the dernier CRI (72d - Dernier __) in these things (in fact I didn't know what "dernier cri" means until just now) so I struggled in places. I eventually got it done (except BOSo/THEoW, which I should have known from the Pear variety clue even though I never heard of the network) but honestly it wasn't as much fun as I usually have. 

I have only one complaint (other than the density of names) and that is this: does ANYBODY call Cleveland  "CTOWN" (108d - Home of baseball's Indians, informally)?! OK, the urban dictionary tells me they do but I still thank that's some pretty ugly fill.

Alright I'm done, to which you probably say ATLAST (24d - "Finally!") I wouldn't say "You ARESO beautiful" (107d) to this puzzle, but on the other hand Frank would probably tell me, "IBEG your pardon"( 12d), I never promised you a rose garden".

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