South American tuber - SUNDAY, May 24 2009 - E.C. Gorski (Descartes portraitist / Gonitis locale / Clubber Lang portrayer in Rocky III)
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: "Perpetual Motion" - puzzle has a "note," which reads: "When this puzzle is done, start at the end of 57-Across; then, beginning counterclockwise, connect the circles in one continuous line to identify a figure invented by 29-Down. The answers to the five asterisked clues will provide a hint to the figure." The "figure" is the symbol for "INFINITY," and its inventor, apparently is JOHN WALLIS
Word of the Day: HALVAS (14D: Turkish sweets) - n.
A confection consisting of crushed sesame seeds in a binder of honey.
[Turkish helva, from Arabic halwā, from haluwa, to be sweet.]
Saw that the puzzle had a note after I'd printed it out. I never bothered to read it, and it turns out, you really don't have to. The circled squares clearly form an INFINITY symbol, and the entire puzzle is so easy in its non-theme fill that the note is almost superfluous. When I was done with the puzzle, the only thing I'd never seen before was JOHN WALLIS, who was essentially unclued (29D: See note). I simply figured "he must be the guy who invented the INFINITY symbol." And I was right. I filled this puzzle in with almost zero hesitation. Took a while to see what the circled squares spelled out, but I got it eventually. Never thought about what the asterisked clues were doing until I hit 104A: *1974 Carl Carlton hit. I had no idea who "Carl Carlton" was. I had the "EVE" in place, so I went looking to the other asterisked answers for hints. That's when I saw "without end" and "forever" and the song "EVERLASTING LOVE" leapt immediately to mind. That was the one moment in this puzzle that felt truly exhilarating - getting that answer. The puzzle is another wonderfully multi-layered and inventive Liz Gorski Sunday, though easier and with more so-so fill than I've come to expect from her (admittedly, my expectations are high - she might be my favorite Sunday constructor of the moment).
- 21A: *2007 Ken Follett novel ("World WITHOUT END")
- 25A: *Bond film that's a real gem ("Diamonds are FOREVER") - just too too easy.
- 47D: *Song by Tejano singer Selena ("ALWAYS Mine") - OK, I didn't know that.
- 100A: *Alexander Pope phrase appropriate to the start of a sports season ("Hope springs ETERNAL") - "Man never is, but ALWAYS to be, blest" - could have gotten this with No crosses. The first good paper I ever wrote in college was about Pope.
- 104A: *1974 Carl Carlton hit ("EVERLASTING Love") - here's another, lesser Carl Carlton hit ... oh, man, this right here ... this makes my day:
I did this puzzle during a break in watching 2008's Batman movie, "The Dark Knight" (for the first time). This made the insane word INSANEST (81D: Most ready for commitment?) easier to take than it might have been otherwise. Heath Ledger was, indeed, fantastic as The Joker - deserved his posthumous Oscar. There's also a brief appearance by The Scarecrow in this movie - CAW! (1D: Cornfield sound) - and we also get to see how Two-Face acquires his grotesquely split VISAGE (30A: Kisser, so to speak). Can't believe I put of seeing the movie for so long. Highly enjoyable. Also saw the new "Night at the Museum" movie in the theater YEST. (69A: 24 hrs. ago). That movie was not the laugh riot I'd hoped it might be, but it had its moments (as well as half the cast of "The Office" -- ??), and daughter thought it was incredible. To be fair, she thinks all movies are incredible. But any movie with Amy Adams on screen for an extended length of time cannot, I'm convinced, be too bad.
- 10A: Scot's exclamation ("Och!") - went with the German "Ach!" at first
- 13A: The fish in John McPhee's "The Founding Fish" (shad) - heard of, but never read, McPhee.
- 34A: Newsman Peter and other (Arnetts) - wondered briefly how you pluralize ARNESS (ARNESSESESES?) ... but that's the 60s TV actor. ARNETT is the newsman.
- 63A: Descartes portraitist (Hals) - he was in the puzzle recently, which is the only reason his name sprang to mind (I had the "LS" - that helped).
- 72A: Jazzy Laine (Cleo) - gimme. I find "jazzy" as an adjective for jazz singers/musicians slightly odd. Too much like a word you'd use to describe, say, a colorful sweater - though I may be thinking of "snazzy."
- 82A: Clubber Lang portrayer in "Rocky III" (Mr. T) - he just turned 57 a few days ago.
- 91A: Gonitis locale (knee) - "locale" strikes me as geographical, i.e. an odd way to describe the KNEE.
- 94A: Classic Cremona family (Amatis) - they made violins.
- 109A: An original Star Alliance airline (SAS) - may as well have just said [Airline]. No idea what "Star Alliance" is ... here's info. Best fact - it's headquartered in FRANKFURT AM MAIN, Germany. FRANKFURT AM MAIN = 15 letters ... nice, grid-spanning potential.
- 114A: Arthur _____, inventor of the crossword puzzle (Wynne) - I had the "WY" and wrote in ... WYATT.
- 3D: Country whose national anthem's title means "The Hope": Abbr. (Isr.) - needed many crosses for this one. Well, two. I needed the "S" and "R," which is what I had when I first saw this clue.
- 22D: Handyman's letters (DIY) - Do-It-Yourself
- 93D: "Chicago" song ("Roxie") - I read this clue to mean "a song off of the album 'Chicago' by 70s/80s supergroup Chicago" - songs off that album include "25 or 6 to 4," "Make Me Smile," and "Colour My World."
- 105D: South American tuber (oca) - a tempting little 3-letter word that I'm convinced constructors would use a Lot more if it were a Lot more common to North American readers.
Before I go, I have a message from puzzle constructor and author Eric Berlin, who has embarked on a new crossword publishing project. You should support it if you can. He's good.
At the 2008 ACPT, in honor of Brooklyn taking over as host of the tournament, I presented a "suite" of Brooklyn-themed crossword puzzles. There were seven puzzles, some straightforward and some rather offbeat. Each puzzle led to an answer word, and the final puzzle, once solved, explained how to combine these answers into a final, satisfying solution. I received many nice compliments for this suite, and I've long thought about doing another one, but the fact is that the market for such a thing is small. In fact, non-existent. In fact, if I didn't sell it to Will Shortz for use at the tournament, there would be no way to turn a dime on the puzzles at all. This despite the fact that there are probably a great many people who would enjoy these puzzles.
Now comes Kickstarter (http://www.kickstarter.com), a new web site for artists of all kinds. Kickstarter allows people to seek out funding a variety of esoteric projects. The site [only just launched], and already there are writers, filmmakers, and all other sorts of creative types, looking to raise a little money to support their passion. I'm there, too.
I am trying to find 300 people willing to pay five bucks each to fund a new themed suite of crosswords, to be delivered to my "backers" in the fall. The money I raise will go to my time for creating the puzzles, as well as a fee for my testsolver, as well as a couple of prizes, since I intend to run this as a contest.
Here's the Web site for my project: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ericberlin/crossword-puzzles
Oh -- and at that site is a link to my seven Brooklyn crosswords, which I am now giving away for free. [Read "About This Project" - link to Brooklyn puzzles is in the third paragraph]
Wishing you a wonderful Memorial Day weekend Sunday,
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
PS A certain avid crossword-solving celebrity is a theme answer in today's Philadelphia Inquirer (Merl Reagle) puzzle... (see 53A)