Wirehair of film — WEDNESDAY, Aug. 19 2009 — Rocker Quatro / Dynasty vixen / Philanderer in slang / Frances Hodgson Burnett kid-lit novel
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Constructor: Peter A. Collins
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: "THE SECRET GARDEN" (52A: Frances Hodgson Burnett kid-lit novel ... and a hint to 21-, 26- and 45-Across) — word "GARDEN" can be found inside circled squares embedded in three long theme answers.
Word of the Day: SUZI Quatro (62A: Rocker Quatro) — Suzi Quatro (born Susan Kay Quatrocchio, June 3, 1950, Detroit, Michigan) is an American singer-songwriter, musician, radio personality and actress [played Leather Tuscadero on "Happy Days"]. (wikipedia)
Though born in Detroit, SUZI Quatro has had far more commercial success in the U.K. (where she moved in the 70s) and Australia. The only reason most Americans know her name at all is because of this song, a big hit when I was just starting to listen to radio:
Here is a theme type I hope never to see again — the find-a-word-"hidden" -in-a-longer-answer theme, where the letters are not consecutive. Feels like you're just throwing circles around. I'm guessing that if we had a contest, we could get dozens if not scores of viable so-called "Secret GARDEN" answers. And these theme answers aren't even that good, AND have nothing to do with each other, AND contain lots of GARDEN letters that aren't circled. AND you had to expand the grid to 16 letters wide? For this? No. Further, "secret?" Really? That would imply something inherent, important, valuable, lurking inside the answer, not a butchered random word. There's no more a "secret" GARDEN inside GARAGE DOOR OPENER than there is a secret GOON. Oh, and as one of my readers emailed me last night, there's another reason "secret" is a misnomer. Here's his message, in its entirety:
Can I substitute for you today?
IT'S NOT SECRET! If you circle the f#$*king letters, it's not f#$#king secret! You want it to be secret, don't circle the f#$#king letters!
- 21A: Hamid Karzai, starting in 2004 (Afghan president)
- 26A: One of four generations in a photo (great grandparent)
- 45A: Driver's electric convenience (garage door opener) — had first three letters and tried to do something with GARMAN GPS SYSTEM
I have to give props to TWINPAC, which is a ballsy answer (16D: Promo container that's a twofer). Would've like TWINPAK better, for obvious reasons, but I still admire the creativity and ingenuity here. I found the puzzle pretty easy, with my only snags coming a. when I entered IPSO for IPSA (44D: Res _____ loquitur) and then had trouble figuring out the Most Important Answer In The Puzzle (the theme-revealer), and b. when I hit the tiny SW, where neither 52D: Historic site option (tour) nor 53D: Give a paddling, maybe (haze) would drop easily into place. Luckily SUZI Quatro and ALEXIS Carrington (46D: "Dynasty" vixen) were familiar figures from my childhood, so I worked it out.
- 15A: Philanderer, in slang (tomcat) — another nice colloquial entry. The TOMCAT / TWINPAC nexus was easily my favorite part of the puzzle.
- 59A: Piltdown man, notably (hoax) — crossword puzzle remains the only place I've ever seen Piltdown man mentioned (many times now).
- 63A: Father _____, leper priest of Molokai (Damien) — completely forgot this and thus needed most of the crosses.
- 1D: Wirehair of film (Asta) — he doesn't get around as much as he did in his HEYDAY, but he still comes around once in a while to assert his Alpha Dog status.
- 2D: Son of Eric the Red (Leif) — seems very slightly off to have moniker "the Red" in the clue and then have LEIF just sitting there naked in the grid.
- 4D: Stock transaction made to claim a tax deduction (wash sale) — have vague memory of seeing this answer once before in a puzzle, but I've never seen it otherwise, so I just waited for the crosses to fill it in.
- 7D: Mobster's code (Omerta) — another word known (to me) only from xwords. I want someone to invent the Omerta Omelet, first because the word OMERTA always makes me think of OMELETS whenever I look at it, and b. because we seem to have a lot of culinary firepower among my readers, so why not put it to good use. I await your recipes. Stipulation: even though OMERTA is a code of silence, the omelet should not, I repeat not, be lethal.
- 9D: New Mexico skiing locale (Taos) — New Mexico is one of the places my wife and I talk about moving to once daughter has gone off to college. My sister was born there (Albuquerque) and it's reasonably close to (i.e. in the same half of the country as) my entire family, unlike where I live now.
- 49D: Hammond products (organs) — musical interlude
- 58D: Part of Rockefeller Ctr.'s address (NY, NY) — cute. I'm headed to NY, NY this weekend for Ryan and Brian's crossword tournament (Saturday — info here). You should come on out, as it is certain to be very high quality, with lots of familiar names from the puzzle world, while also being smaller (and thus less intimidating??) than the annual ACPT in Brooklyn. Also far, far less expensive. Anyway, I'll be staying with PuzzleGirl somewhere on the Upper West Side. Our plans involve a. completing our redesign of this website, and b. eating. Restaurant recommendations now being accepted (via email or Twitter).
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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