Sunday, May 12, 2013

HOSANNA - It's a Mother's Day puzzle!

Today Frank A. Longo gives us a Premier Crossword titled Sitcom Moms which seems appropriate enough given that it is Mothers' Day, after all.

First, any puzzle that asks me to name 4 sitcom moms and the actresses who played them is going to be challenging for me; add in over a dozen non-theme proper names and it becomes darn near impossible. I managed to get it done but at times it seemed more like hard work than fun. Still, I have to admire the creativity and construction genius that was required to put the grid together and make the whole thing work without resorting to too much pure junk as fill. The fact that I was able to actually complete the grid without really knowing most of the names to be filled in demonstrates just how ADEPT (48a - Proficient) Frank Longo is at that kind of thing.

23a - THELMAHARPER (Vinton, Eunice and Ellen's mom)
37a - PEGGYBUNDY (Bud and Kelly's mom)
44a - MORTICIAADDAMS (Wednesday and Pugsley's mom)
61a - CLAIREHUXTABLE (Rudy, Vanessa, Theo, Denise and Sondra's mom)
79a - VICKILAWRENCE (Portrayer of 23-Across)
90a - PHYLICIARASHAD (Portrayer of 61-Across)
101a-KATEYSAGAL (Portrayer of 37-Across)
116a-CAROLYNJONES (Portrayer of 44-Across)

I was familiar enough with three of the fictional moms to get their names with a few crosses in place; only the first one caused me serious difficulty as I didn't know the mother or any of her kids. In fact when the last name started to take shape I tried to make it valeryHARPER, who I think is a real person on TV and at that point the down answers weren't helping me at all - it took a while to straighten that mess out. Likewise, three of the portrayers were familiar enough to get with some crosses filled in, but Katey Sagal didn't look familiar even with all of the letters in place and I actually double-checked all of the crosses to be sure I had them right.

Frank throws in some bonus theme answers to enhance the tribute to MAS (54a - May honorees) by including shouts outs to the folks who made if all possible, NANA (109d - Mom's mom) and DADDY (19d - Pa).

Aside from the afore-mentioned gaggle of proper names the fill was pretty good, as it always is when Frank A. Longo is the constructor. It may even have been intentional that the three words that seemed made-up to me ran vertically down the entire left side of the grid: DATACOM (1d - Digital transmissions, for short); GODEVIL (57d - Kid's sled); and KAPOW (101d - "Bam!"). These are probably all real things but the terms weren't familiar to me - they do look really cool in the grid though.

Let's see, what else? STROP (11d - Razor sharpener) is a word that I knew right away but it seems like a really old-fashioned term that might cause problems for younger solvers who know only disposable razors. I know Rob ROY only as a drink so cluing him otherwise (84a - Outlaw Rob) caused me some unnecessary confusion. Both MOOLA and it's clue (66a - Long green) seem like a stretch as slang for "money" and may cause trouble for some unfamiliar with the terms - I wanted there to be an "H" on the end of the word but ran out of room before I could add it. Another NIT (32d - Louse-to-be) to pick is ODORED (65A - Scented) - it's not a word I would ever use in every-day speech and I can't even imagine a way someone might use it. HMM (5d - "Let's see now") I just looked back over my list of complaints and every one contains the letter "O" - I wonder what that means? Maybe it's a signal it's time to call it quits and leave you with this:

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