Thursday, June 19, 2008
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: LIES - TEN clues are inaccurate, which the puzzle tells you in two ways - first, with the letters spelled out by the black squares, and second by 56A: Number of clues in this puzzle that contain factual inaccuracies (ten)
This is the best puzzle of the year so far. In fact, I'm not sure it's even close. By year's end, I may have revised or recalibrated my opinion, but for now, O My God. I was tipped off by Merl Reagle (whose newly debugged puzzle site you can access from my sidebar) that today's puzzle would be a doozy, but I had no way of knowing just how original it would be. The miracle of the thing is - it's pitched at a perfect Thursday level. With TEN lies and highly IRRegularly-shaped grid, this should have been brutal, but it was just slightly tough. And best of all, it's roiling with entertaining answers. A+. Nice job, Krozzy (I've given you a nickname, whether you like it or not - you're welcome!)
- 1A: France's _____ von Bismarck (Otto) - it was very nice of Joe and Will to tip us to the theme right off the bat. I could see the big black LIES, but didn't know how it would be relevant until ... well, the first clue I looked at. This one.
- 14A: Chemical element with the symbol Fe (Neon) - FE = iron
- 19A: Former pharmaceutical giant (GTE) - they were a telecom giant
- 24A: Father of Jacob (Esau) - actual father of Jacob = Isaac
- 8D: Golf great Andre (Agassi) - he's tennis
- 47D: Tennis champ Ernie (Els) - he's golf
- 27D: It's more than 90 degrees (acute angle) - that's obtuse
- 9D: Standard office-closing time (nine a.m.) - that's an opening time
- 49D: Currency of China (yen) - that's the currency of Japan
- 50D: Summer hrs. in N.Y.C. (EST) - those are winter hours
- 39A: Possible name for the first decade of the century (oughts) - had AUGHTS, which is true enough, but gave me LAG for 33D: Mill input (log)
- 42A: Former Romanian leader Ion _____ (Iliescu) - this one was rough, but I got the first part from crosses and the second part by adding on a common Romanian name-ending series of letters (-SCU). Interestingly ILIE Nastase is also Romanian. ILIE Nastase + Nikolai CeauseSCU = ILIESCU.
- 43A: One step from the majors (AAA) - nice clue for this otherwise unremarkable answer
- 44A: Nickname on the Houston Rockets starting in 2004 (T-Mac) - wow, that's rough for non-basketball fans (i.e. a Huge percentage of NYT solvers). PS Congratulations to my once beloved Celtics for winning the NBA championship. I was a Huge fan back in the 80s when the Lakers/Celtics rivalry meant something. My H.S. yearbooks are filled with trash talk - and trash drawings - from "friends" who hated the Celtics. As a Celtics fan in California, I was an anomaly to say the least. I may have been unique to my high school (in that respect, if not others).
- 57A: Dwarf planet larger than Pluto (Eris) - I'd like to thank the puzzle for teaching my brain the instinctive dwarf planet - ERIS reaction.
- 45A: Kind of dog (seeing eye) - allow me to point out that if you have all the middle letters in this answer from the Downs, which I did, the only "dog" that wants to go in this space - perfectly - is PEKINGESE. All those E's fit perfectly into place. Ugh. This was the only part of the puzzle that I truly had to wrestle with.
- 52A: Road access regulators (toll gates) - I don't know that I've seen this phrase before, but I like it. Is the "gate" the actual piece of wood that descends and blocks your entry/egress?
- 53A: Sooner (Okie) - simply ... awesome...
- 2D: Mother of Calcutta (Teresa) - blessed gimme. I got OTTO, ONESEC (1D: "I'll be with you shortly ..."), and TERESA in rat-a-tat fashion.
- 32A: Suffix with palm (-etto) - A Woody Harrelson / Elisabeth Shue movie...
- 5D: Silverstein who wrote and illustrated "The Giving Tree" (Shel) - you could have stopped this clue at "Silverstein" and the answer would have been obvious.
- 11D: One who exhibits a pack mentality? (cigarette smoker) - most excellent. Cigarettes now cost $300 / pack in NY, so with gas at $750 / gallon ... how can anyone afford to smoke any more? When I see someone smoking in his/her car, all I can think of is "what are you, a Rockefeller?" Usually, the person is manifestly not a Rockefeller.
- 13D: Job seeker's fashion advice (dress for success) - I assume that the job-seeker is the recipient of this advice; the clue is not clearly worded. [Fashion advice for a job-seeker], maybe?
- 35D: Turkish pooh-bah (Aga) - today's winner in the eternal AGA v. DEY v. BEY struggle.
- 37D: Th.D. subj. (Rel.) - I had DIV., but fixed it reasonably quickly. At least I was in the ballpark.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld