Realm of Tolkien's Middle Earth — TUESDAY, Aug. 25 2009 — Dugongs manatees / Conqueror Valencia 1094 / Beav's big brother
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Constructor: Bob Johnson
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: HYBRID VEHICLES (56A: Cars suggested by 20-, 26- and 48-Across?) — theme answers are two-word phrases where the two words are both car models
Word of the Day: ROHAN (34A: Realm of Tolkien's Middle Earth) — Rohan is a realm in J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy era of Middle-earth. It is also referred to as Riddermark or The Mark. The realm is of significant importance in the author's most famous book, The Lord of the Rings. (wikipedia)
Liked the concept and the answer, did not like the cluing. Made-up phrases like these should have "?" on their clues. Is there an urban MALIBU, such that SUBURBAN MALIBU would make any sense? It does not appear so. Thus SUBURBAN MALIBU is not a viable phrase. Neither is ACCORD ELEMENT or MUSTANG ESCAPE. This doesn't mean they're not good theme answers — they are. Just put a "?" on the end of each one, and then the car make name in brackets, and you're there (not sure I like the "think" part of each theme clue, but that's a minor detail). Outside the theme, the puzzle was extremely easy — sub-Monday. This made ROHAN stand out like an extremely sore thumb. Saw all those "Lord of the Rings" movies, but did not remember this. Never read the books, but I have to believe that even some people who read them couldn't dredge this one up easily. ROHAN has never been in a published daily crossword puzzle. Not in the past 15 years or so, anyway. ZERO instances of the word in the cruciverb database. I often look up what I think are odd or weird words when I see them in grids, and I have never, ever looked one up that had no grid cred at all, especially on Tuesday. Seems an OK answer for a Thurs-Sunday puzzle, but here? Compared to everything around it. It's out-of-place. Jarringly so.
Feels like this whole puzzle could have / should have been made into a decent Wednesday with some tougher cluing.
- 20A: Residential area of California [think Chevy] (Suburban Malibu)
- 26A: Start of a stampede [think Ford] (Mustang Escape)
- 48A: Part of a peace treaty [think Honda] (Accord Element)
I like that the pairs are all odd-ball pairings — car + SUV. Accentuates the whole idea of HYBRID. Nice.
Tore through the puzzle with only a couple of hiccups along the way. I wrote in SULTAN where MULLAH was supposed to go (51D: Islamic leader). I was cutting a diagonal through the puzzle, from NW to SE, and tried to get 51D off the "U" from TAU (55A: Letter-shaped cross ... aren't all crosses, by definition, letter shaped?). FAIL. I also floundered a bit in the southern section with 50D: Bring back, as a fashion. No good reason. Just couldn't see REVIVE. In fact, I needed five letters (!) before I got it. I mean, even REVI-- wasn't helping. Weird? I think of "Wide Load" as being a sign on a home that is being moved, which is not exactly the same as a MOBILE HOME (11D: It might have a "wide load" sign). I think I'm conflating MOBILE HOMEs and RVs/campers and trailers (i.e. in trailer parks). Some homes are more mobile than others. I like the answer, just as I like its symmetrical counterpart, SUNDAY BEST (28D: Going-to-church clothes).
- 14A: Georgia Music Hall of Fame city (Macon) — read this as "George of the Music Hall of Fame"
- 16A: Fashion line named for a sport (polo) — weird that a sport hardly anyone in America plays or understands should be the focal point of an extremely popular apparel brand. Why is there no JAI ALAI brand competing for this "mysterious exotic sports we don't understand" market?
- 43A: Locale of many outsourced jobs (India) — POLO makes me think of INDIA, and now I know why:
The modern game of polo, though formalized and popularized by the British, is derived from Manipur (now a state in India) who played the game known as 'Sagol Kangjei','Kanjai-bazee', or 'Pulu'. It was the anglicised form of the latter, referring to the wooden ball which was used, that was adopted by the sport in its slow spread to the west. The first polo club was established in the town of Silchar in Assam, India, in 1834. (wikipedia)
- 64A: Colonel North, informally (Ollie) — I like the stacked 5s in the SE because together they sound like a ridiculous dance: The OLLIE WALLY SHAKE.
- 69A: Rose who surpassed Cobb (Pete) — surpassed him in base hits. Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of Rose's lifetime ban from baseball.
- 30D: Conqueror of Valencia, 1094 (El Cid) — Wonder if anyone is sitting there wondering "what's an Elcid?"
- 46D: Dugongs or manatees (seacows) — thank god "manatees" was in this clue. Can't remember ever hearing of a dugong before.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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