TUESDAY, Mar. 24, 2009 - P Harrison (Clanton at the O.K. Corral / Brother of Little Joe on '60s TV / Bargains for leniency)
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Relative difficulty: Medium/Challenging
THEME: POLICE (62A: They can be found in 20- and 55-Across and 10- and 26-Down) - slang words for the POLICE are found at the beginning or end of non-police phrases
Word of the Day: ALGID -
- CHILL, COLD
- marked by prostration, cold and clammy skin, and low blood pressure - used chiefly of a severe form of malaria
First, I had trouble grasping the clues. None of the long Acrosses (all fine words) came to me at first, even with their first two letters in place. Is (0,0) necessarily the ORIGIN on a graph (59A: (0,0) on a graph). Do all graphs ORIGINate at that point? Or maybe that's just the technical term for that particular point. I guess that's it. No matter, ORIGIN did not spring forth. PO- did not give me POLICE, though I didn't spend much time contemplating what the theme answers had in common at that point. And SOLDER ... I was expecting an actual alloy name here, like, say (US) STEEL (21D: J.P. Morgan co.); instead I get a more general noun that means "Any of various fusible alloys, usually tin and lead, used to join metallic parts" (answer.com).
I have no complaint about the long Acrosses down there - I think they were clued at a slightly higher-than-Tuesday level of difficulty, but that's a very subjective call. What's not subjective is the horrid monstrosity that is ALGID (49D: Chilly). Never seen it, never heard of it, never. I already have a -GID word to describe cold, and that word is FRIGID. Why anyone thought we needed a second word is beyond me. I muddled my way to a slowish 5-minute-flat solving time, and then spent something close to 20 seconds just staring at the intersection of what turned out to be ADS (49A: Some Super Bowl Sunday highlights) and ALGID. The only letters I considered putting there for a while were "Y" and "T" (YLGID? TLGID?), both of which were clearly wrong (though when I finally put in "A," I wasn't exactly confident of that answer either). Football abbrev. in -DS is (almost?) always YDS or TDS. I checked every cross in ALGID (at that point, I hadn't really looked to see how POLICE was correct). Then started sticking in vowels, and ADS seemed right, so boom. Or thud. The end. I would like ALGID next to DEICE for their reverse takes on heat, but both words are phenomenally ugly, so I have to pass.
There was one other clunker section in the grid: the far east. IS AN (28D: "This ____ outrage!") next to NARD (29D: Source of a fragrant oil) next to GUTE (30D: "_____ Nacht" (German words of parting)) is aesthetically unpleasant. Here's the NARD rule. If you have a super ugly word, one that sounds and looks bad, like NARD, then you have to dress its neighbors up in ribbons and bows and Sunday finery, or else the Ugly will expand exponentially. Luckily, in this case, the Ugly was contained by the stalwart STAN THE MAN (10D: Musial's nickname).
- 20A: Adolescent boy's growth (peach FUZZ)
- 10D: Musial's nickname (Stan THE MAN)
- 26D: Dehydration may help bring this on (HEAT stroke) - another clue whose answer did not come easily
- 55A: Bargains for leniency (COPS a plea) - had noun/verbtigo here at first and put an "S" at the end of the answer at first, thinking "Bargains" was a plural
- 16A: Brighton bye-bye (ta-ta) - TA-TA would seem to have more to do with age than geography at this point. Feels antiquated, quaint. Do younger people in Britain say it?
- 17A: Augments (adds to) - ugh, didn't know it immediately so put an "S" at the end. What's a DOSFUS!?
- 25A: "I Pity the Fool" star (Mr. T) - "I Pity the Fool" was a TV show for about a minute in 2006. A reality series about MR. T. It's also MR. T's most famous catchphrase, which he originated as Clubber Lang in Rocky III.
- 2D: Tree with catkins (alder) - never can remember this. The NW was another place that slowed me down a bit, though that was mainly the faulty of #$#ing U.N. DAY (3D: It's observed on Oct. 24). I demand to know who "observes" it. No one I know.
- 9D: Clanton at the O.K. Corral (Ike) - well, I never heard of him, but he sounds reasonably famous, and the crosses were easy, so no complaints.
- 52D: Al who created Fearless Fosdick (Capp) - yay, a comics gimme. Best of all - he's with the POLICE.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld