SATURDAY, Apr 25, 2009 - B Wilber (Introducer of math symbol e / Battle of Cabra victor 1071 / Act of Supremacy institutor)
Friday, April 24, 2009
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: Names I Don't Know (or, NONE)
Word of the Day: PETCOCK - n. (1A: Runs through a petcock, e.g. => DRAINS OFF)
A small valve or faucet used to drain or reduce pressure, as from a boiler. (wik.)
This was tough. The SW and NE in particular gave me fits, with the NE being the toughest part of the whole grid for me. The only thing worse than a B'way clue is THREE B'WAY CLUES. Criminy, it's like the constructor personally hates me. FRED EBB? Nope (8D: "New York, New York" lyricist). Garson KANIN? Oh hell no (18A: Garson _____, writer and director of Broadway's "Born Yesterday"). A song from "Hair?" Well, thankfully, I'd heard of it, but I needed crosses to jar it loose, and they were Not Forthcoming (13D: "Hair" song with birthday wishes to a president). For a while, the only thing I had up in the NE was Peppermint Patty's damned SANDALS (14D: Wear for Peppermint Patty). I threw MERGED across that section at 21A: United, and that gave me the "G" in what I thought was DOUGHNUT at 12D: Thing with a sweet ring to it? Mother of Pearl, how could those very, very plausible answers both be wrong? Well, they were.
WASHBOARD ABS (31A: Desirable trunk feature) took forever to appear because of yet Another very believable wrong answer: GO NUTS instead of GO WILD (23D: Lose it). Thank god for grad school, because somehow I was able to see SCIPIO (35A: He crushed Hannibal at Zama) even through the wrongness of GO NUTS, and SCIPIO pretty much saved my life in the (to that point) barren SW. I figured "THE LAST METRO" (38A: 1980 Truffaut film that won 10 César awards) would be in French, given the "César" reference in the clue (I realize it's an award, and it's not being used as a French word, but still ... seemed Frenchy). I had METRO, but was surprised when THE LAST showed up. ISAAC who? (56A: Shorthand inventor Pitman) ... ERI what now? (46A: European conductor _____ Klas). My god, if I weren't a longtime solver, OAKIE (learned from xwords - 7D: "The Great Dictator" Oscar nominee) and EULER (learned from xwords - 42A: Introducer of the math symbol e) would have hurt me too. And here I started out so confident, with ANDRES Gallaraga as a flat-out gimme (3D: 1993 N.L. batting champion Galarraga). "The Big Cat." Thought the puzzle would be right in my wheelhouse. Boy was I wrong. All in all, a healthy Saturday workout. I think it's a little cheap to rely so heavily on proper nouns for your difficulty, but I still enjoyed the ride.
- 16A: Setting of Queen Beatrix airport (Aruba) - another reason the NE was a bear. I was looking for some kind of Swedish city. Maybe Danish. Who the hell is Queen Beatrix? What? The Netherlands still has a @#$#ing Queen? Democracies with royalty = people with third nipple or vestigial tail. Puzzling.
- 20A: City founded during the Cherokee Strip land run (Enid) - city blah blah somewhere in the west blah blah four letters long = ENID! I love that this crosswordy city crosses another crosswordy city in NOME (5D: City east of Saint Lawrence Island).
- 27A: Food giant based in Springdale, Ark. (Tyson) - Not a fan of factory-farmed meat/poultry.
- 47A: Unagi restaurant suppliers (eelers) - one of my few gimmes today. Not sure why we don't see UNAGI in the puzzle more often. Terminal "I"! 60% vowels!
- 57A: Act of Supremacy institutor (Henry VIII) - established the English monarch as the head of the Church of England.
- 4D: Christian trigram (IHS) - INRI I know. This, I don't. Iesus Hominum Salvator - hey, is that where the "H" in "Jesus H. Christ!" comes from?
- 9D: Most famous resident of Warm Spr., Ga. (FDR) - Warm Springs was the site of a hospital for polio patients founded by FDR.
- 28D: Vacation spot for some oenophiles (Napa) - virtual gimme. Had the "N" in place and so no problem.
- 32D: Alfred _____, "Footbridge at Argenteuil" artist (Sisley) - another name that gave me fits. I've heard of SISLEY, but that didn't help a lot today.
- 39D: Who said "I'll try anything once, twice if I like it, three times to make sure" (Mae West) - didn't *know* it, but given the spirit of the quotation, the answer was pretty obvious.
- 43D: Cause of a dry spell in the Midwest (La Niña) - whoa. Total guess that paid off.
- 47D: Battle of Cabra victor, 1079 (El Cid) - I have this eerie feeling I Just Did a puzzle with this very clue. EL CID is a relatively frequent puzzle denizen, though usually just his CID makes it in.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
P.S. Had an even harder time with the LAT. Orange's write-up here.
P.P.S. I'm a clue in a puzzle! Thanks, Ben Tausig