Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Player of TV's Caine / THU 2-16-12 / Lined as furnace hearth / Market town that's suburb of London / Film planner / 1960s title sitcom character

Constructor: Jim Page

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: MARGIN / FOR / ERROR (21A: With 29-/30-Across, wiggle room ... or a hint to this puzzle's theme) — answers around the edged (i.e. MARGINs) of the grid are types of ERRORs

Word of the Day: REIGATE (55A: Market town that's a suburb of London) —
Reigate is a historic market town in Surrey, England, at the foot of the North Downs, and in the London commuter belt. It is one of the main constituents of the Borough of Reigate and Banstead. Reigate and the adjacent town of Redhill form a single urban subdivision of the Crawley Urban Area. // Colley Hill, one mile (1.6 km) north of Reigate, is the sixth highest point in Surrey at 756 feet (230 m). Reigate Hill, 2.5 miles (4.0 km) to the east of Colley Hill, is the seventh highest point in Surrey at 723 feet (220 m). (The 7th highest! You don't say ... My lands ...) (wikipedia)
• • •

This puzzle is 7-Down. Let's start with the ungainly placement of the revealer. Just make a 16-wide grid and put it in the middle. Something. Anything symmetrical. Part of me thinks that the nature of the theme somehow accounts for the awfulness. Like it's a seriously meta-bad-crossword. BONER-themed with BONERs aplenty. If that's the case, standing ovation. But just in case—FETTLED? (16A: Lined, as a furnace hearth) AGENTRY? RESPECTER? SCENARIST? PLICATE? REIGATE? It's hard to be a respecter of that kind of fill. I'm surprised at how much long(er) junk there is. In the age of construction software, this kind of infelicity avalanche shouldn't be possible. I'd give you one or two of those words, but the lot? Jeez louise. Also, what's a LIGHT PEN? ("A farm enclosure for light!" "The opposite of a heavy pen!") (8D: Implements for "writing" on computer screens) And what is "writing?" If you are making letters, you are writing. Not "writing." The use of ILLEGAL as a noun made me cringe (54A: One caught by border patrol).

Theme answers:
  • 1A: Goof (SLIP-UP) — I had MESS UP, thinking [Goof] was a verb. It appears that all the theme answers are nouns.
  • 7A: Boo-boo (FLUFF) — ????? I have never heard FLUFF used this way. Ever. Also, isn't a "boo-boo" an OWIE or little bruise or bump. I guess you can make a "boo-boo," but do you make a FLUFF? It sounds ... like it has an etymology I don't really want to know about.
  • 15D: Misprint (TYPO)
  • 37D: Muff (MISCUE)
  • 16D: Flub (FUMBLE) — I had BUMBLE. [Lined, as a furnace hearth] is about as nonsensical (to me) a clue as I have ever seen. Needless to say, FETTLED was not in my vocabulary. Neither was BETTLED.
  • 45D: Pratfall (TRIP)
  • 59A: Gaffe (BONER)
  • 60A: Screwup (HOWLER)   

This puzzle is about as out-of-my-wheelhouse as they come. I can't even look at David CARUSO (12A: Player of TV's Caine), and I thought FENSTER was from somebody's Uncle on one of those spooky '60s sitcoms. But I was thinking of Uncle Fester from "The Munster." FENSTER comes from the long-running megahit "I'm Dickens ... He's FENSTER" (1961-62) ... [cough] ... [tumbleweeds] ... I think this was the prequel to "She's the Sheriff" (10D: 1960s title sitcom character). Anyhoo, the pop culture was way out of my league today. Didn't even know the EGAN woman (51D: Susan of Broadway's "Beauty and the Beast"). I knew ENSLER from "The Vagina Monologues" (43D: Tony-winning playwright) and WHASSUP!? from those horrible Bud ads about a decade ago (20A: Bro's greeting). And I knew OHIO STATE because I went to Michigan for eight years (31D: School whose football stadium is nicknamed the Horseshoe). Your UVEA is part of your face the way your fingernail is part of your arm (9D: Part of the face whose name is derived from the latin for "grape"). Come on.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

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