Older brother of Malcolm on Malcom in Middle / FRI 11-16-18 / Von Trapp father in Sound of Music / Rexha pop singer with 2017 #2 hit Meant to Be / Jellylike organism once classified as fungus / Young prey for bobcat

Friday, November 16, 2018

Constructor: Kyle Dolan

Relative difficulty: Easy (4:34, and I was only half-awake)

THEME: none

Word of the Day: Elizabeth ARDEN (40A: Who said "There's only one Elizabeth like me, and that's the queen") —
Florence Nightingale Graham (December 31, 1878 – October 18, 1966), who went by the business name Elizabeth Arden, was a Canadian American businesswoman who founded what is now Elizabeth Arden, Inc., and built a cosmetics empire in the United States. By 1929 she owned 150 upscale salons across the United States and Europe. Her 1000 products were found in the luxury market in 22 countries. She was the sole owner, and at the peak of her career, she was one of the wealthiest women in the world. (wikipedia)
• • •

Always dicey embarking on a Friday puzzle just after rolling out of bed in the morning, but after an initial misstep (LEVER for SNOOP at 1D: Pry), I was off and running, and very little of substance ever stood in my way. HEIDI was an extreme gimme (2D: Heitkamp of North Dakota politics) and then ODE got me out of that 1D mistake and whoosh, goodbye. Made it all the way to the very last section (SE) before I encountered the only truly terrifying square in the puzzle: the crossing of BEBE (56D: ___ Rexha, pop singer with the 2017 #2 hit "Meant to Be") (who?) and ADELAIDE. Now, I know ADELAIDE very well. Or, rather, I know of its existence. I've never been there, or anywhere in Australia, despite having been to New Zealand four times (my wife grew up in Dunedin, NZ) (Note to wife: honey, next time, we really got get across the pond or whatever you people call that water between NZ and AUS). Anyway, I know ADELAIDE exists, but that vowel at AD-LAIDE ... oh, no, I was not at all confident about that. And BABE Rexha seemed very, very plausible. But in the end ADELAIDE just looked / felt right, and it seemed much more likely that you'd go to a marginal proper noun for BEBE than for BABE, so I guessed "E," which was right. Still, if I'd been the constructor, I think I would've done anything to avoid that cross (or I would've clued BEBE in a much more gettable manner).

[this whole album is phenomenal just fyi]

Five things:
  • 10D: Big name in men's deodorant (AXE) — well of course, but "name" had me wanting an actual person's name, so even at A-E I was like "... ACE? Is that a guy's name?"
  • 40A: Who said "There's only one Elizabeth like me, and that's the queen" (ARDEN) — Wow, turns out I didn't really know who she was. I'm a fan of old movies and I appear to have slightly confused Elizabeth with Eve:
  • 37D: Spiced holiday drink (WASSAIL) — I thought that was just something you said for a toast, like SKOAL! or SALUT! or whatever. Interesting.
  • 13D: Jellylike organism once classified as a fungus (SLIME MOLD) — I'll just take your word for it that this is a thing. I think I remember it from my D&D Monster's Manual ... or maybe I'm confusing it with Gelatinous Cube ...
  • 43D: Period of great climate change (EOCENE) — another semi-treacherous moment, as I had ITALIA at first for 58A: Neighbor of Suisse (ITALIE), and therefore sincerely thought the "period of great climate change" might be ICE AGE

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Noted artist on Bad Boy Records / THU 11-15-18 / Catchphrase for Moe Howard / Comic strip reporter Brenda / Cloned machine of old / 1990s game disk / Wash out with solvent

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Constructor: Mary Lou Guizzo and Jeff Chen

Relative difficulty: Medium (5:45)

THEME: MICROLOANS (60A: Money to start small businesses ... or a hint to five squares in this puzzle) — a rebus puzzle with five "IOU" squares (so, an "IOU" is indicative of a loan and since "IOU" has been shrunk into a single square ... MICROLOANS!)

Word of the Day: ELUTE (2D: Wash out with a solvent) —
Online string instrument ... just kidding. Actually: "verb
  1. remove (an adsorbed substance) by washing with a solvent, especially in chromatography.
    " (google)
• • •

This is an extremely solid rebus puzzle, with a revealer that seems like it's been waiting all its life for someone to come along and make a puzzle based on it. As is typical with rebuses (and, just, most puzzles in general, honestly), I was slow to start, and particularly so given where I started. Hard enough to get DUBIOUS HONOR under any circumstances, but especially when it's hiding a tiny IOU, and especially when it also crosses ELUTE, which is up there on the yuckiest crosswordy words list. The Least Wanted list. ELUTE isn't a word, it's a typo. "Did you mean KLUTE? No? Did you mean ELUDE? No? Did you mean ELATE? No? I give up. Goodbye." I had OU-I at 4D: "Certainement!" and figured I was dealing with some kind of "leave a square blank" puzzle. Like, the answer was obviously OUI, but it just skipped over a square for some reason—what would that reason be!? Well as we know now, it was the "IOU" square. But I didn't figure that out there and then. I drifted down until I got to 44A: Catchphrase for Moe Howard, and after I got WHY, I knew the answer, knew it wouldn't fit, and so got very ... suspicIOUs. Got the gimmick pretty quickly then, as PREC- seemed to really want "IOU" to follow it (27D: Contents of a treasure chest = PRECIOUS GEMS). With this new "IOU" knowledge, I was able to go back to the NW, clean it up, and move on. Close encounters with ELUTE ALOU BIOME ELEA TOAT ESTA and COR had me a little (lot) wary of this one, but honestly I forgot all about that when, off of just -IOUS-, I got NOTORIOUS B.I.G. (10D: Noted artist on Bad Boy Records, with "the"). A great answer, and a themer to boot! The rest of the puzzle could've been a dog's dinner for all I cared. I was set. Then the revealer came in and gave the whole theme gimmick a solid rationale. Fine. Just fine.

Today I learned that the adjective is not SIOUXAN, which ... I mean, looking at it, yeah, that looks bad. Still, though, I balked slightly at SIOUAN, but the crosses checked out, so I was fairly (and rightly) confident.

I don't think of druids often, but when I do, their ROBEDness apparently isn't in the first tier of things I think about, 'cause that answer was slow to come to me. But I did get very lucky with the proper nouns today; in addition to NOTORIOUS B.I.G., I lucked out with the clues on STEINEM (20A: "Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions" author) and STARR (33A: Comic strip reporter Brenda)—feminist icons both. May as well throw PELOSI in there too, as she was also a gimme (46D: House speaker after Hastert). I couldn't figure out what was PRECIOUS at first about the treasure chest. Wanted CARGO, didn't fit. Got the "G" and wanted GOLD (?). I think I've said this before, but PRECIOUS GEMS seems redundant. "Look at these worthless gems!" is not a phrase I can imagine someone saying. But I recognize that PRECIOUS GEMS is a real phrase (I just think it's more a jeweler's phrase than a pirate's). Thought the "con artist" might be a CHEATER, but I like CHARMER better (42D: Many a con artist). And I think I'm finally getting the "Frozen" crosswordese sorted—she's ELSA, and the snowman's OLAF, and the reindeer is SVEN, is that right? Is there more? Ooh, looks like there's a younger sister ANNA and a prince named HANS. That makes five reasonably common four-letter crossword answers that could have "Frozen" clues. You are welcome for this public service.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


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