Conductor noted for wearing white turtlenecks - THURSDAY, Apr. 16, 2009 — Oliver Hill (Singer Julius who was famously fired on air by Arthur Godfrey)
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: Extra CT — Theme answers are phrases (well, a phrase, a band, an athlete, and a hybrid intergovernmental and supranational organization) to which "CT" has been added, creating wacky phrases which are then clued, "?"-style. The theme is tied together by 26D: Derive (from) ... or a two-part hint for understanding 17-, 33-, 42- and 58-Across (EXTRACT).
I really like themes like this, especially when the base phrases are common and the changes are wacky enough. This was really well done—each of the base phrases would stand on its own as an entry, and I like that it's a disparate collection. And each was completely changed by the Connecticutian addition. (And methinks Oliver Hill lives in Connecticut now.)
Word(s) of the Day:
ROC — a large, ferocious bird of fable, 1579, from Arabic rukhkh, from Pers. rukh. Mentioned in Marco Polo's account of Madagascar, modern use is mostly from "Arabian Nights."
ORC — "ogre, devouring monster," O.E. orcþyrs, orcneas (pl.), perhaps from a Romanic source akin to ogre, and ult. from L. Orcus "Hell," a word of unknown origin. Revived by J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) as the name of a brutal race in Middle Earth.
Now, if someone could help me keep ENT and EFT straight, that'd be great, thanks.
- 17A: Revealed when seeking medical help? (SHOWED THE DO(CT)OR). Okay, this just barely stands on it's own, but I'll give it a pass.
- 33A: Water passages that don't turn? (DIRE(CT) STRAITS). From the band. I don't know if Rex likes them, but this is from right in his mid-80s cultural sweet spot.
(PuzzleGirl, you'll love this version, but I thought the one I included would have broader appeal...)
- 42A: One-named R&B singer makes her choice? (MONICA SELE(CT)S). I don't know the one-named singer, but I had the SELECTS and just filled in MONICA—she just barely missed my tennis sweet spot. Hee, I made a funny—"sweet spot" is actually a tennis term!
- 58A: Continental salve? (EUROPEAN UN(CT)ION). Salve, not slave. Salve. Reading is fundamental, and reading correctly makes crossword solving much, much easier.
In a 1982 Sunday Magazine, then crossword editor Will Weng wrote an On Language column (Crossword Pitfalls, if you're an online subscriber) in place of the vacationing William Safire. He wrote:
Arnel: An easy one, it would seem. Just define it as ''synthetic fabric'' and go on to the next word. Later, you get your knuckles rapped by the Celanese Corporation, which happens to make Arnel with a capital ''A'' and points out that it is a triacetate fiber and not a fabric. I won't go into what a representative of a knitwear trade organization had to say about how the word ''tricot'' was defined in another puzzle.There's no getting around it. ARNEL (9A: Synthetic fabric) is ugly. And I'm sure the end, where it crossed ELOHIM (12D: God, in the Old Testament) and LAROSA (13D: Singer Julius who was famously fired on the air by Arthur Godfrey), tripped up lots of people. I got it right, but that L was a guess—that all went down back in '53, about 20 years before I was born. And Oliver Hill, well, he was born in the '90s, just a few years after Celanese stopped making Arnel because of toxicity concerns. (During the production—if you still have an Arnel jumpsuit, feel free to keep wearing it.)
There was a decent amount of not-so-great fill. I never know what they're going for with the random sayings. Like OHOH (1A: Cry of anticipation), or VOILA (16A: Cry of accomplishment), or HEH (2D: Schemer's utterance).
And fill-in-the-blanks? There were thirteen. That seems high.
- I've never been a fan of overly generic ones. Sometimes, like with MEDAL (64A: ___ Ceremony), generic FITBs can be a useful tool for creative cluing. Those I don't mind, it's the ones like (30D: "Just ___") that I do. Here it's A SEC, but it could easily be a tad, a bit, do it, stop... Or (24D: "Come ___"), which is ON IN instead of here, or home.
- Others are easy and specific, but tend to indicate compromises in the fill. I'm looking at you, IS A (48A: "Patience ___ virtue"). These are sometimes impossible to avoid, and the more I like the theme the more I'm willing to overlook a few.
- Other cluing options abound for entries like ONO (3D: Sean ___ Lennon). It's nice that that's inferable, but there were just so many today. Same for OAT (59D: ___ flakes).
- And someone will want me to point out that (55A: Old Vietnamese strongman ___ Dinh Diem) NGO is near NAM (60D: '60s service site).
- (7D: K.S.U., L.S.U. or M.S.U.) is a SCH. IIRC, O.H. goes to Y.
- (37A: Exhibitor of dorsiflexion) is an ANKLE. Is most ankles, actually. When they no longer exhibit that, one needs surgery. Trust me, you do not want this.
- NITROUS ACID (11D: HNO2) is 11 letters long. So is LAUGHING GAS (no clue: N2O).
- ERA (38A: It's low for aces: Abbr.) is an Earned Run Average for an ace pitcher. As in baseball, not advertising. Sorry, I couldn't find a good Spies Like Us image.
- (66A: Prefix with -plasm) is ENDO, not ecto. I jotted a note to find a nice Ghostbusters image before I ever checked the crosses.
- (8D: Costa Rica memento, perhaps) is a SHELL.
- (69A: Flat, for short) doesn't refer to a mistaken coffee order in New Zealand. (See also: (27D: Drink that may be vanilla-flavored), LATTE) Instead, it's ONE D(imensional). Which is of course sorta wrong, unless they mean flat as in not-curved. A flat plane has two dimensions.
- Fury is maybe a technical term for a (57D: Hurricane's force). It's also the best women's Ultimate team in the world.
Okay, I've gone on long enough. Fun puzzle.
Signed, SethG, Royal Vizier of CrossWorld
[Quick Note from SethG:]
Got an email from constructor Eric Berlin the other day and thought I would pass along the info to you.
"I wonder if you might let your readers know of an event happening this week that they might enjoy very much. You perhaps know that in addition to constructing crosswords, I write puzzle-filled mysteries for kids. My second novel, 'The Potato Chip Puzzles,' comes out this week, and to celebrate, I'm throwing an online 'puzzle party.' Starting on Thursday, there'll be a puzzle on each of seven different kidlit blogs. Solve the puzzle, submit your answer, and you can win a copy of the new book... or even the grand prize, two dozen different children's books and novels from G.P. Putnam's Sons.PuzzleGirl gave Eric's first book to PuzzleSon for Christmas last year and he loved it. They will definitely be checking out the puzzles this week. Thanks, Eric!
Full details here: http://www.winstonbreen.com/puzzleparty.html
I hope to see you and your readers there!"