THURSDAY, Sep. 4, 2008 - Matt Ginsberg (Jazz's Earl Hines, familiarly / Diable battler / 1986 showbiz autobiography)
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: "Split ..." - theme answers are all "SPLIT _____," but "SPLIT" is not represented in the grid as a word; rather, the second word in the phrase is SPLIT across two consecutive Across clues
Great theme. I feel I've seen something like it before, but no matter. Still charming. One drawback was that once you get the theme (for me, very early), the rest of the theme answers are startlingly easy to get. I think I filled most of them if not all of them in as soon as I was sure that the phrases were all "SPLIT _____" and not variations like "BROKEN _____," "CLEFT _____," etc. Speaking of "variations," or "variants," rather: INSTIL! (36D: Impart gradually: Var.) INSTIL is today's sacrifice to the crossword god VAR, who must be fed on a regular basis if we want to continue to enjoy high-quality crosswords. All hail the Great VAR!
[these are clued slightly differently in the paper versus in AcrossLite, the software program I use to print out and solve puzzles - paper version has the simple, elegant "15 & 16," e.g., but AcrossLite apparently can't handle that formatting, so has the clunkier "15. With 16-Across ..."]
- 15A: With 16-Across, boxing result, often (decis / ion)
- 23A: With 24-Across, curious case in psychology (person / ality)
- 38A: With 39-Across, instant (sec / ond)
- 48A: With 50-Across, grammatical infelicities (infin / itives) - nice, delicate clue that neatly sidesteps the controversy (and there is one) over whether such infinitives constitute out-and-out "grammatical errors."
- 62A: With 63-Across, go Dutch (the / check) - the real ugly duckling of the bunch, as nothing is "split"; there's merely the expected [space] between complete words. Still, it's cute, and certainly not a deal-breaker.
My biggest hold-up while doing this puzzle was the NW corner. In order to understand how that's possible, you first have to understand that I didn't get THORN right off the bat (1A: Feature of an acacia tree), then you have to imagine what it feels like to see the clue 5D: Hawk, maybe for a word where you already have ---CON. What do you put in? Answer: FALCON. I didn't hesitate for a second, and then wondered why None of the NW Acrosses would work.
- 6A: 1986 showbiz autobiography ("I, Tina") - her "comeback" was a big deal when I was in high school. "Her" being "Tina Turner's."
- 14A: Historical biography that won a 1935 pulitzer ("R.E. Lee") - wow, it's remainder bin day in puzzle world.
- 20A: Delphic quality (prescience) - feel like this word has been in the puzzle recently. Just finished reading Aeneid VI, where Aeneas consults the Sibyl (priestess / prophetess of Apollo) at her cave in Cumae. She takes Aeneas on a tour of the underworld to see his father (Dante will use this guided tour as a model for "The Divine Comedy").
- 32A: Where Nixon went to law school (Duke) - news to me
- 35A: Much of central Eur., once (HRE) - that's Holy Roman Empire
- 44A: Locale for four World Series (Shea) - I believe that "locale" can be found in crossword clues more often than just about anywhere else in the world.
- 19D: Trample, for example (rhyme) - this one trampled me a bit, but it was worth it.
- 45A: The last 10% of 110% (extra) - I did not like this clue at all. If the quantity in question is defined as "110%," then how is any of it "EXTRA?" I mean ... I understand what the clue is going for, and yet ... I make sense to myself in my own head, just so you know.
- 65A: Seed alternative (bud, I mean sod)
- 4D: Bing Crosby's "White Christmas," again and again (reissue) - the original clue was more straightforward, and, to my ear, more precise - [Second release].
- 11D: Diable battler (Dieu) - wondered what language "diable" was until I realized that it's the only other foreign language you know well, you dumbass.
- 13D: Irish singer with eight platinum U.S. albums (Enya) - if I've taught you anything, I have taught you that "Irish singer" in four letters = ENYA. Except when it = BONO, which is much, much more rarely.
- 33D: Operating system developed at Bell Labs (Unix) - I know squat about computers, but I had the "X" and UNIX came to mind (from some patch of nerd conversation I once overheard / engaged in), and there we are.
- 51D: Wrestling promoter McMahon (Vince) - "Let's get ready to RUMBLLLLLLE!"
- 38D: Grammy-winning reggae artist _____ Paul (Sean) - love this clue for SEAN, though I don't listen to his music. If you like songs imploring girls to shake their booties, SEAN Paul is definitely your man. Sample:
- 49D: Jazz's Earl Hines, familiarly (Fatha) - learned it from xwords, and it has since come back multiple times. Worth tucking away for future use.
- 58D: Poses posers (asks) - this reminds me of the clue for ARE yesterday. Loopy clue for basic answer.
- 8D: Makeshift dagger (icicle) - this one made me laugh.
- 60D: Plasma alternative, briefly (LCD) - someday I believe this answer will be clued [Dance-punk band _____ Soundsystem]
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
For those who haven't done it yet, please check out the first ever Rex Parker Free Crossword: "Don't Blink" - a VP debate-themed puzzle.