05.02.07 -- What's In A Theme?

Oedipus and the Sphinx -- 5th c. BC Attic cup by Douris
May 2, 2007
Puzzle by Richard Silvestri, edited by Will Shortz
If this puzzle can be said to have a "theme", I think a “theme” with as little entry matter culminating in so very little effect and requiring as lengthy an explanation as follows, should not be called a “theme” -- especially when there is no satisfaction with the end result.

That said, there are three long across entries that can be taken two ways:
FOUNTAINPENNY (20A Coin thrown for good luck?) drop the NY at the end and get an unclued FOUNTAIN PEN (which like the other three is a more familiar phrase.)
BASKETBALLFANNY (38A Result of sitting on a court bench too long?), subtract the NY and get BASKETBALL FAN (Again, more familiar.)
HOTCROSSBUNNY (51A Bugged Bugs?) unclued dropping the NY is HOTCROSS BUN. (Ditto,) Go to "Hot Cross Bunny" HERE.
Situated here in NY NY, knowing that the Island of Manhattan is New York County, I wondered if the construction was meant to draw out NY NY NY -- but there is no indication anywhere in the puzzle as to this being the intent.

Consequently, I declare this to be a “themeless” puzzle, which is better for all concerned due to that if it intended to be a “theme” puzzle, it fails miserably on the basis of scantiness and lack of explanation.

Other than the above, I found obscure (I know, it’s just me) AMOY (12D Taiwan Strait city), FICHU (40D Woman's shoulder wrap) and SKUA (53A Arctic bird); that there were a lot of cartoon references, too much dull fill, and generally lackluster clues and entries -- with the exception of MAN (13D Answer to the riddle of the Sphinx) coupled with NOONE (21D Before Oedipus, who could answer the riddle of the Sphinx), well, uh --just because I like the answer -- too bad the answer to the riddle wasn’t squeezed into this puzzle, now that would be a “theme”!

“What walks on four legs in the morning, two legs at noon, and three legs in the evening?” -- “Man crawls on all fours in infancy, walks upright on two legs in adulthood, and uses a cane as a third leg in old age.”
Illustrations: Above - 13D and 21D. Below - 20A, 38A and 51A (from the Bugs Bunny cartoon "Hot Cross Bunny")
Puzzle available on the internet at
THE NEW YORK TIMES -- Crossword Puzzles and Games
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Linda G said...

What a l-o-o-o-o-o-ng day. Glad to be back among the blogging.

It appears that no one was crazy about this puzzle, but some bloggers were more vocal than others.

I especially liked the riddle of the Sphinx -- partly because I remembered the answer from taking a class in mythology a few years ago.

I may be too exhausted to even do the puzzle tonight...

DONALD said...

It's the good weather -- no one wants to go to work so they take it out on the puzzle.

I liked the presence of the Sphinx and Oedipus today also -- duh, big picture, I guess so!