City where Erasmus taught — FRIDAY, Jul. 3 2009 — Joy to World penner Hoyt / Muhammad Ali cornerman Dundee / Waves on garments / Cheerios abroad
Friday, July 3, 2009
Constructor: Kevin G. Der
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
Word of the Day: LIVIA (49D: Octavian's wife) — Livia Drusilla, after 14 AD called Julia Augusta (Classical Latin: LIVIA•DRVSILLA, IVLIA•AVGVSTA) (58 BC-29 AD) was the wife of Augustus and one of the most powerful women in the Roman Empire, being Augustus' faithful advisor. She was also mother to Drusus and Tiberius, grandmother to Germanicus and Claudius, great-grandmother to Caligula and Agrippina the Younger and great-great-grandmother to Nero. She was deified by Claudius who acknowledged her title of Augusta. (wikipedia)
Solved on paper last night and felt oddly sluggish. Looking back on the puzzle now, it doesn't seem that difficult, but I definitely had to wrestle with it in many places last night, especially in trying to get both into and out of the NE. Put down EPIC where EPOS was supposed to be (10D: Apollonius of Rhodes' "Argonautica," e.g.), but those first two letters were enough to help me get OPT OUT (16A: Decline), KOHL'S (9D: Target competitor), and KEITHS in quick succession (9A: Pianist Jarrett and others). But at 18A: Smoke and mirrors I threw down HOOKUM — I think I meant "HOOKEM," as there is an expression "HOOKEM-SNIVEY" (chiefly Eng. dial.) meaning "deceit, trickery." When that didn't bear fruit, I switched to HOODOO, which is roughly synonymous with VOODOO and can mean "hex." Also, HOODOO is an Alison Moyet album that I own. HOOPLA? I was not familiar with the secondary meaning of HOOPLA, "talk intended to mislead or confuse." I think of it as hype or excitement — something for Starship to be knee-deep in in 1986:
After HOOPLA, all the Downs in NE fell easiliy, but I couldn't get the front end of LOST ART (37A: Calligraphy, some say) or the back end of BASEL (29D: City where Erasmus taught). BADEN was the only Euro-"BA" city I could conjure/HOODOO. So there was rebooting. I find rebooting usually necessary but often deadly in late-week puzzles. Always best to build on what you have until you really just can't do it anymore.
Once I finally looked at the easy gimme clues at 4D: Queen who wrote popular novels (Ellery) and 8D: Hogwarts class taught by Severus Snape (Potions), the NW got quite tractable, though I felt Very uneasy about the "O SOLE MIO" / "WEBS" crossing (15A: Basis of Tony Martin's "There's No Tomorrow" / 5D: ABC, Fox, etc., in Variety), as "SOLE" kept whispering that it wanted to be "SOLO," and I couldn't figure out the logic of calling networks "WEBS." Not a big Variety reader. But I stuck with the "E." MOIRE ... needed all the crosses for that (3D: Waves on garments).
Bottom part of the puzzle went much faster, especially the SW — once I established WAXWORK across the top of that quadrant (35A: One might stand in a chamber of horrors), the whole thing toppled in no time. I've only ever seen WAXWORKS in the plural, but if it can be plural, I assume it can be singular (see not ALMS). Only thing I didn't know down there was AXTON (39A: "Joy to the World" penner Hoyt _____), though now that I look at it, the name feels very familiar. Finally, I hit the SE, where OBTUSE (45D: Not sharp) gave me the "E" I needed to see the word EASY in the phrase REAL EASY (63A: Like duck soup), which is apt, as it was all REAL EASY from there. Probably a normal Friday in terms of difficulty, but I struggled slightly more than normal, I think.
Also, this puzzle is a pangram. [correction: No "F" ... !?]
- 1A: "In one era and out the other" phenomenon? (time warp) — didn't really see what the clue was trying to do. I think it's trying far too hard to be clever, and ends up a mess. Is it trying to misdirect me with the wordplay in the (made-up?) quotation? Poor.
- 20A: Subject of therapy (ills) — Double Poor.
- 22A: First name among U.N. secretaries general (Dag) — I had BAN (Ki-Moon).
- 23A: One who has a quick point to make? (acer) — first word in the grid. I had just finished watching Serena Williams beat Elena Dementieva. Serena was a big-time ACER in that match.
- 24A: Where Duff Beer is sold, on TV (Moe's) — Duff is sold all over Springfield, I believe. I own a Duff T-shirt.
- 34A: Half of a 1980s TV duo (Allie) — looking for Mork or Mindy here.
- 6D: Half of a 1950s TV duo (Amos) — of "Amos and Andy"
- 44A: Muhammad Ali cornerman Dundee (Angelo) — didn't know it.
- 46A: "The Unanswered Question" composer, 1908 (Ives) — early 20c. in four letters? IVES = good bet. I was listening to IVES just yesterday, coincidentally.
["Then, for a long time, nothing happened"]
- 53A: Its logo is four interlocking rings (Audi) — gimme, unless you don't know it, I guess.
- 54A: Historical figure on whom a Verdi opera is based (Attila) — did not know. I guessed TOSCA right, though (1D: Opera singer in an opera).
- 56A: Cheerios, abroad (adieux) — clever. Wonder if plural "X" got anyone. Shouldn't have, as both LUXES (47D: Meter-candles) and Gallimaufries (50D: OLIOS) have been Words of the Day this year.
- 2D: Half brother of Midian, in the Bible (Isaac) — didn't know it, but "C" from "ACER" made it easy to guess.
- 11D: First woman to land a triple axel in major competition (Ito) — this is why she will be in your puzzle forever. Why is Blogger underlining "AXEL" in red?
- 12D: An exorbitant amount (top dollar) — started with TOP DRAWER.
- 13D: Grassy bottom (hula skirt) — lovely, even if it does suggest someone who has sat on a freshly mown lawn for a while.
- 24D: Girl with considerable pull? (milkmaid) — how hard is she pulling?
- 30D: Its flag includes a shield and two spears (Swaziland) — knew this before I read the clue — "W" and "Z" were already in place.
- 59D: "_____! What fray was here?": Romeo ("O me!") — guess it's slightly better than the Cockney clue that "'OME" usually gets.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]
P.S. My write-up of today's (lovely) L.A. Times puzzle is here.