THURSDAY, Jun 4 2009 — Former org protecting depositors / Classic brand of liniment / Old Al Capp strip _____ an Slats / Gathers on surface chemically
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Constructors: Peter A. Collins and Joe Krozel
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: PETE ROSE (34A: With 35-Across, on who has done the circled things, combined, more often than any other major-league player) - "circled things" are letters arranged on diagonals to resemble the base paths of a baseball field, and each type of hit that PETE ROSE got is spelled along its corresponding "path," i.e. SINGLED stretches from home to first, DOUBLED from first to second, TRIPLED from second to third, and HOMERED from third back to home again. The puzzle pays TRIBUTE (11D: Reason for a medley, perhaps) to ROSE's RECORD number of career hits (45D: 34& 35-Across's 4,256 career hits, e.g.)
Word of the Day: ALIENOR (27A: One who is no longer entitled) - n.
One that transfers ownership of property to another.
Got off to a strange start on this one, as I went POSTURE (13A: Poor thing about a slouch) to PICARD (13D: Enterprise-D captain) to DETONATE (30A: Set off, in a big way) very quickly, and then with a few more answers polished off in the NW, I looped back up from DETONATE to TEST SITE, thus circling the wagons before I'd even properly finished off the far NW (usually I move more methodically, and it's smaller answers that fall early). Once that corner was done, I looked at the circled squares, saw TRIPLED, and immediately filled in every other circled square in the puzzle — all before the 1 minute mark. Scanned the puzzle for the theme-revealer and lit on the clue for RECORD, which led me to 34 & 35-Across, and I was done with the theme part of the puzzle. Completely. With nearly 3/4 of the grid left to fill in. So, now, to that point, I really liked the puzzle. Looks great, tight theme. I'm a baseball fan, so I was pleased to pick up HITS AT (36A: Attempts to strike) and LEGEND (32A: Bigger-than-life persona) (symmetrical!) as well as TRIBUTE as bonus theme answers.
But as I dutifully filled in the rest of the grid, the whole endeavor got less and less pleasing. There is a high percentage of iffy to mind-bendingly terrible fill here. And not chippy little stuff, but some long, garish stuff. MORELAND (39A: Georgia birthplace of Erskine Caldwell)? It's a place, but not a terribly ... hell, not even remotely famous. The fact that Erskine Caldwell - an author who was tremendously popular 60+ years ago but whom no one reads now - was born there does nothing to up its crossworthiness. FSLIC is more sound effect than government agency. "Former org.," current ugh. ALIENOR speaks for itself (27A: One who is no longer entitled). "It's time to play ... ALIEN OR Not Alien!? First up: Joan Rivers!" Only the puzzle's general easiness can explain the clue on ABBIE (21A: Old Al Capp strip "_____ an' Slats"). That is a jarring attempt to toughen up an otherwise soft puzzle. And a "Classic" brand of "liniment"??? (52A: SLOANS) What year is it? "Former," "Old," "Classic" - you're running out of synonyms. Lest you think I don't like this fill simply because it's old, I give you EDUARDO (55A), who, like MORELAND, is a big "!?!?!?!" And I saw "The Blair Witch Project."
If my wife's solving experience is any indication, many of you will have struggled (if you struggled) in the SW, where maybe you put in IODINES instead of IODIDES (37D: Salt add-ins), and were thinking Quakers or train stations at 48D: Penn and others and thus never saw SEANS coming. Or maybe, like me and my wife, your first answer for 59A: Last of the French? was DERRIER, and not the correct DERNIER (pretty cute, that screw-up). In the end, I'm left ambivalent - loved the time I spent taking in the theme (all 90 seconds), but had less fun over the next several minutes filling in the remaining blanks.
- 1A: Source of the line "Frailty, the name is woman!" ("Hamlet") — unhappy with mom
- 54A: "Can _____ Witness" (Marvin Gaye) ("I Get a") - torn. Ugly long partial, but fantastic song:
- 3D: Highest peak in the Philippines: Abbr. (Mt. Apo) - MT. APO : Me :: Waterloo : Napoleon. I remember defeats, so I remembered this.
- 10D: Gathers on a surface, chemically (sorbs) - almost as pretty as FSLIC
- 12D: Apostle called "the Zealot" (St. Simon) - a legitimate question about the abbreviation "St." — why does "MT." require an "Abbrev." signal in the clue, but "ST." doesn't? Same number of letters. Both common words. Seems on odd convention to me.
- 40D: Bank controller (aileron) - Loved this. Really loved it. Great misdirection on the clue. ("AILERONs" are the wing flaps that control a plane's banking movements)
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld