SATURDAY, Nov. 1, 2008 - Donald K. Willing (Its slogan was once "More bounce to the ounce" / Predecessor of Thornburgh in the cabinet / Rio producer)
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Relative difficulty: Challenging
THEME: TWO-WAY STREETS (35A: Many thoroughfares ... or what this puzzle's Across answers consist of? -> STEERTS YAW OWT) - Across answers run forwards and backwards on alternate lines
This is an architectural feat that deserves respect. Not only do you have the alternating back and forth Across answers, you also have not one or two but THREE theme-related answers: the one mentioned in the theme description above, plus 17A: Detours (alternate routes) and 55A: Possible result of an appeal (reverse decision). Superb. If it weren't for the backwardness of half the Across answers, this puzzle would have been on the easy side, but given the gimmick, I had to jack the difficulty level Way up. Once you tumble to the theme, the puzzle is very doable, but even savvy solvers probably had some trouble. I know that when I have complete and utter breakdown, as I did in the first minutes of solving this puzzle, then the puzzle is probably a rebus ... but I couldn't make that work. I had a few moments where I was frustrated because I felt I knew the answer, but it wasn't working ... it was only after the third or so time this happened - with DIA, aka AID (52A: Square on un calendario) - that I finally realized what was up.
The original clue on PEPSI was [Slice maker] (to my mind a much much easier clue than the current 20A: Its slogan was once "More bounce to the ounce"), and so I confidently wrote in PEPSI ... which was confirmed by EARP (5D: Marshal played by Fonda, Costner and Lancaster) - damned central "P" stays put when you reverse the word! So I was stuck there. I had patches of the grid filled in ... but the patch wouldn't bloom. RERAN / NEWEL was an early signal that I failed to pick up on. I knew they must both be true, and yet they couldn't be ... Anyway, as I say, reversed DIA saved the DIA and after much slogging around I was finally able to blaze to the finish.
- 14A: High-altitude home (eirea)
- 15A: Motel freebie (eci)
- 16A: Take on (tpoda)
- 20A: Its slogan was once "More bounce to the ounce" (ispeP)
- 21A: Espouse (dew) - as in "Mountain Dew," which is also made by ispeP
- 22A: Panama, e.g. (tah)
- 28A: Onetime ring master (ilA) - tsetaerG ehT
- 29A: Some blemishes (straw)
- 30A: Showed again (narer)
- 42A: Aid in avoiding the draft? (fracs) - excellent eulc
- 45A: Mass communication? (nitaL)
- 47A: Word Cup cry (!elo)
- 51A: Stowe girl (avE)
- 52A: Square on un calendario (aid)
- 53A: Cousin of a hyacinth (pilut)
- 60A: Rhone feeder (eresI)
- 61A: Rio producer (aiK)
- 62A: Crackerjack (tpeda)
- 6A: Gun-cleaning aid (rod) - very necessary, this one. A big help when it came to figuring out that I had ICE the wrong way around
- 9A: Indian honorific (sahib) - I used the word AMAH in conversation tonight. I'm just sayin'...
- 25A: Calyx component (sepal) - crosswordtastic, this word. Pays to do these things habitually.
- 27A: Beret holder (tête) - ugh, "holder"
- 39A: Illegal match play? (arson) - ah, the cheeky ARSON clue. A crossword standard. I like this one.
- 50A: Sailboat stopper (calm) - "slower" or "staller" would have sat better with me.
- 63A: Spring Air competitor (Serta) - I believe we've had this very clue/answer pair in recent months
- 65A: City in North Rhine-Westphalia (Essen) - one of the crosswordiest place names in the book
- 2D: Start of many rappers' stage names (Lil) - let's take, oh, I don't know, LIL' Wayne:
- 4D: Predecessor of Thornburgh in the cabinet (Meese) - my first guess off the "M" in BLAME (1A: It's often laid on someone else), but non-reversed PEPSI intervened ...
- 6D: Person who's combining (reaper) - interesting use of "combining"
- 10D: Seller of Squishees on "The Simpsons" (Apu) - gimme gimme gimme; voiced by the amazing Hank Azaria:
- 11D: Like Venus vis-a-vis Mercury (hotter) - well, Venus is the goddess of love, so of course she's HOTTER than whoever this Mercury chick is
- 18D: Cranes constructing homes, e.g. (nesters) - ouch. I have a friend whose name kind of sounds like this.
- 23D: "Le _____" (Jules Massenet opera) ("Cid") - wonder what it sounds like:
- 41D: CD follower (ROM) - please tell me you did not enter "EFG."
- 46D: Seat of Shawnee County (Topeka) - TOPEKA is a great city name, and, fill-wise, one of the most exciting entries in the grid (last time TOPEKA and "exciting" were used in same sentence? 1978 - Van Halen was in town)
- 50D: Canine features (cusps) - it's a tooth thing
- 52D: High-culture strains (aria) - cute way to dress up this most banal of crossword answers
- 58D: Stanzaic salute (ode) - ditto
- 59D: Staple of Indian cuisine (nan) - if only you could have tied this to APU somehow, I would have been soooo impressed. Instead: just impressed.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
PS Congratulations to my daughter, who yesterday won the Thomas Jefferson Elementary third-grade spelling bee. Take that, MARSHMALLOW! I gotta start teaching her to trash talk. The best part of her recounting of the story was when she said "I kept telling myself, 'I'm going to win this!'" She didn't get anything for winning, though; no certificate, no trophy, nothing - I told her to go back to school on Monday and demand some hardware (kidding).