Monday, October 24, 2011

TV oilman-turned-private eye / TUE 10-25-11 / Scout's rider of early TV / Time in title of 1965 Wilson Pickett hit / Grotto isle of Italy / Cylindrical sandwich

Constructor: C.W. Stewart

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: WHERE ART THOU? (57A: Question that follows "O Brother" in film ... and a hint to this puzzle's theme) — "THOU" is hidden inside four theme answers

Word of the Day: MATT HOUSTON (28A: TV oilman-turned-private eye) —
Matt Houston is an American crime drama series that aired on ABC from 1982 to 1985. Created by Lawrence Gordon, the series was produced by Aaron Spelling. // Matt Houston stars Lee Horsley as a wealthy mustachioed Texas oilman named Matlock "Matt" Houston who worked as a private investigator in Los Angeles in his abundant free time. The show also stars Pamela Hensley as his lawyer sidekick, C.J., and George Wyner as his continuously frustrated business manager. During the show's third and final season (1984–85), Buddy Ebsen joined the cast as Matt Houston's uncle, Roy Houston. (wikipedia)
• • •
MIDNIGHT HOUR is essentially a partial and the theme revealer is a partial and one of the other theme answers is an extremely short-lived '80s crime drama—all these things add up to a not-so-lovable theme. Also, since you can't divide "THOU" anywhere but between the "T" and the "H," the puzzle theme may as well have been "two-word phrases whose second words start "HOU-"; that's certainly what I thought I was dealing with until the end. Grid is almost completely devoid of non-theme answers longer than five letters. What few there are are forgettable, or annoyingly weird (IN FUTURO? TEE SHIRT? It's a TEE, or a T-SHIRT ... see every other crossword where this word has ever appeared). Puzzle also features one of the least clever and most annoying clues of all time (___ Kong). The only time I ever want to see that clue is if the answer is DONKEY. The whole "Is it KING or is it HONG?" gimmick is bush league. Fill is generally solid, and I think the puzzle's heart is in the right place, i.e. I can see how the idea might have seemed promising and clever initially. But if a promising and clever idea yields only mediocre results ... scrap it.

Theme answers:
  • 20A: Time in the title of a 1965 Wilson Pickett hit (MIDNIGHT HOUR)
  • 28A: TV oilman-turned-private eye (MATT HOUSTON)
  • 39A: Multiple-dwelling buildings (APARTMENT HOUSES) — tried TENEMENT HOUSES here, only to find it wouldn't fit.
  • 46A: Droopy-eared dog (BASSET HOUND)
  • 61A: Grotto isle of Italy (CAPRI) — easy once I got the "I." Before that, I had an "O" because I tried to solve 40D: Vacation souvenir wear without looking at the clue and wrote in TEE SHOTS. 

  • 31D: Scout's rider of early TV (TONTO) — which means "stupid" or "foolish" in Spanish (trivia I learned from crosswords) 
  • 57D: Cylindrical sandwich (WRAP) — even with the "W" in place I had a little trouble with this. TACO and GYRO kept insisting that I consider them.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

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