June 16, 2011
Theme: Reduction to the Absurd — The last three letters of three two-word, 18-letter phrases are dropped so that the phrases don't make sense. The first word of each phrase hints that the phrase itself won't be complete.
- 17A: Schubert's eighth, aptly (UNFINISHED SYMPH[ony]).
- 27A: Reference book, aptly (ABRIDGED DICTION[ary]).
- 48A: Burnout symptom, aptly (DIMINISHED INTER[est]).
- 65A: Logical principle that applies to 17-, 27- and 48-Across, aptly (REDUCTIO AD ABSUR[dum]).
I didn't really get the theme right way. I mean, I got that the end of each theme phrase was dropped and that it was in some way predictable because of the first word of the phrase. But then the Latin REDUCTIO AD ABSUR[dum] threw me. I don't think of the "reduction" in that phrase as the same as "shortening" or even "making smaller." And I don't think of "absurdity" in that phrase as a synonym for "nonsensical." After a minute or two — and, I confess, an email exchange with Amy — it made more sense to me and I could even admire the consistency that I hadn't really noticed earlier. And yet … I don't know. Maybe it's just unsettling to me that the words are unfinished. Or it might just be that DIMINISHED INTER[est] is a really boring phrase. Or maybe I was still wincing from the fill.
When you find the ugly GAR at 1 Across and then discover the downs are GAUL, AT. NO., and REFI, well, let's just say that's not a very good start. There were a couple glimmers of hope sprinkled throughout the grid — MYSTIC, HEH, RED CEDAR, DITCH (which has a great clue) — but those good entries just couldn't outweight the … subpar stuff which also includes FT. LB., L IS, AOUT, RCMP, and all the crosswordese, which we'll take a look at here since it's so prominent:
- 1A: Needle-nosed fish (GAR).
- 41A: Banana oil, e.g. (ESTER).
- 2D: Elemental ID (AT. NO.).
- 12D: Org. concerned with asbestos stds. (OSHA).
- 18D: Cross letters (INRI).
- 29D: Composer Ned (ROREM).
- 30D: "__ Dream": "Lohengrin" aria (ELSA'S).
- 40D: "QB VII" author (URIS).
- 56D: Game point (AD IN).
- 63D: German industrial region (RUHR).
Everything Else — 1A: Needle-nosed fish (GAR); 4A: Work unit: Abbr. (FT. LB.); 8A: __ Island, Florida city near Naples (MARCO); 13A: Put away (ATE); 14A: Dickens's Heep (URIAH); 16A: Some fitness ctrs. (YMCA'S); 20A: Butcher's offering (LOIN); 21A: Besides (AT THAT); 22A: Garden veggie (PEA); 23A: Try to be elected (RUN); 25A: Sue Grafton's "__ for Lawless" (L IS); 36A: It goes with boo, woo or yoo (HOO); 37A: Puppet dragon of early TV (OLLIE); 38A: Dix follower (ONZE); 39A: Off-white shade (ECRU); 41A: Banana oil, e.g. (ESTER); 43A: Pickup attachment (PLOW); 44A: John Isner, a record 113 times, in a 2010 Wimbledon match (ACER); 45A: Lot units (ACRES); 47A: Chemical suffix (-ENE); 52A: California's __ Gabriel Mountains (SAN); 53A: PC brain (CPU); 54A: Govt. mortgage agency (FHA); 57A: Brute (SAVAGE); 61A: Engels collaborator (MARX); 68A: Mezzo role in Barber's "Vanessa" (ERIKA); 69A: Big cats (PUMAS); 70A: "So that's it!" ("AHA!"); 71A: Cartridge contents (TONER); 72A: Protective cover (TARP); 73A: Meddle (PRY); 1D: Caesarean conquest (GAUL); 2D: Elemental ID (AT. NO.); 3D: Homeowner's way to raise money, briefly (REFI); 4D: Pleasure (FUN); 5D: Bermuda shape? (TRIANGLE); 6D: Supermarket need, maybe (LIST); 7D: Thai money (BAHT); 8D: Arcane (MYSTIC); 9D: "Rehab" singer Winehouse (AMY); 10D: Dudley Do-Right's gp. (RCMP); 11D: New England attraction, with "the" (CAPE); 12D: Org. concerned with asbestos stds. (OSHA); 15D: Sneaky laugh (HEH); 18D: Cross letters (INRI); 19D: Picasso contemporary (DALI); 24D: Japanese veggie (UDO); 26D: Station (STOP); 27D: In first (AHEAD); 28D: Game for bowlers (BOCCI); 29D: Composer Ned (ROREM); 30D: "__ Dream": "Lohengrin" aria (ELSAS); 31D: Lose on purpose (DITCH); 32D: 43-Across maker (DEERE); 33D: Fjord (INLET); 34D: Depleted layer (OZONE); 35D: Like a 2011 model, say (NEWER); 40D: "QB VII" author (URIS); 42D: Aromatic evergreen (RED CEDAR); 46D: Try a little of (SIP); 49D: Its Hall of Fame is in Charlotte, N.C. (NASCAR); 50D: "For those listening __ home ..." (IN AT); 51D: Insensitive (NUMB); 54D: Neck piece (FRET); 55D: Super Bowl party order (HERO); 56D: Game point (AD IN); 58D: Big cheese (VIP); 59D: Juillet's follower (AOUT); 60D: Vasco da __ (GAMA); 62D: Rush job notation (ASAP); 63D: German industrial region (RUHR); 64D: Like a certain superpower (X-RAY); 66D: Luau strings (UKE); 67D: Nile biter (ASP).