1975 U.S. Open winner Manuel — THURSDAY, Sep. 24 2009 — Rapid to Rossini / Thule distant unknown land / Publisher of fictional New York Inquirer
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Constructor: Brendan Emmett Quigley
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: S-ENDING — "S" added to ends of familiar phrases, creating wacky phrases, which are clued "?"-style
Word of the Day: ULTIMA Thule (5A: _____ Thule, distant unknown land) — Thule [...] is, in classical literature, a place, usually an island. Ancient European descriptions and maps locate it either in the far north, often Iceland, possibly the Orkney Islands or Shetland Islands or Scandinavia, or in the Late Middle Ages and Renaissance Iceland or Greenland. Another suggested location is Saaremaa in the Baltic Sea.
Ultima Thule in medieval geographies may also denote any distant place located beyond the "borders of the known world." Some people use Ultima Thule as the Latin name for Greenland when Thule is used for Iceland. (wikipedia)
Also, a Swedish rock band:
I thought add-a-letter themes were on Brendan's list of "10 Bullshit Themes," but no. That's good, because while "add-a-letter" puzzles can be dreadful, they don't have to be, as this one proves. Simple concept (add "S" to the end) yields great theme results. That this puzzle is not any better than the average puzzle Brendan cranks out three times a week at his own site says a lot about how good those puzzles are. I now expect anything of his that appears in the NYT will be stunning, and this was just OK for me, dawg. Theme worked out, but some of the fill and cluing felt off. Sub-BEQ. Dropping a tennis obscurity with a convenient name down the middle of the grid feels like Fail, though ORANTES did make that middle of the grid tough in a way I normally appreciate on a Thursday (25D: 1975 U.S. Open winner Manuel) (ORANTES are also praying figures in Christian art ... too tough? Too easy? Too boring?). SATIATE (24D) and [Gorge] feel inequivalent to me, though I'm sure some dictionary somewhere says not — ah, I see the secondary meaning of "SATIATE" is "fill to excess." That's weird that one word can mean "fill to satisfaction" and "fill to excess." "I was satiated, but then I just kept eating to the point where I was ... satiated." OK. Don't know that I've ever seen LOGGIAS pluralized (well, I rarely see LOGGIA at all unless it follows the name "Robert") (26D: Open galleries). So middle was definitely MEATIEST part of puzzle (39A: Having the most substance), but not liking any of the big Downs there took some of the pleasure out of the puzzle. I did love the longish Acrosses in there, esp. WHAT A GUY (30A: "Gotta love him!"). My main issue today is RE-. RE- RE- RE-. Three times? Three RE-words, all in bottom half of puzzle? REMOVALS (36D: Parts of some appliance delivery jobs) is a perfectly good word, not forced at all, but put REHEM next door (49D: Take up again, e.g.) and now my RE-quota has been reached. After that, RESAW feels like a glaring, ugly excess (50A: Cut again). I have also seen BABA WAWA in puzzles one too many times now (4D: Classic "S.N.L." character who spoke with rounded Rs). USA USA USO? US no. On the whole, this is good stuff, solid Thursday stuff, but ... if you like it, you really really should be doing the puzzles at BEQ's site, thrice-weekly. On average, they are even better than this.
- 17A: Band without a drummer? (The Beatless)
- 24A: "See ya, idiot"? ("So long, ass") — this one killed me. Base phrase is a conditional phrase ... really hard for me to pick up, and made the middle that much harder.
- 35A: Mission of an Army officers' school? (training brass)
- 47A: Nice touch from Roger Daltry and Pete Townshend? (Who caress) — aren't they "THE Who?" And I know the other members are dead, but still ... Pete and Roger do not WHO make.
- 54A: Playful kiss on the Discovery? (shuttle buss) — adorable.
- 1A: Former "Meet the Press" moderator Marvin (Kalb) — total WTF to me (see also the next Across, ULTIMA Thule).
- 11A: "_____ Boys" (1886 novel) ("Jo's") — Alcott.
- 19A: 1989 one-man Broadway drama ("Tru") — it's three-letter drama day today. See also "HIM" (31D: 1927 E. E. Cummings play).
- 20A: Divine creature with six wings (seraph) — no idea it had that many. Freaky.
- 27A: Goddess with a cow as an emblem (Hera) — often referred to in mythology as "cow-eyed." Pretty sure it's a compliment.
- 59A: Cryptozoology figure (Nessie) — some qualifier like "familiarly" probably needs to be in this clue somewhere.
- 8D: Quebec's _____ Rouleau crater (Ile) — I know from personal experience that Brendan hates the answer ILO. Apparently ILE is just fine. ;)
- 28D: Publisher of the fictional New York Inquirer (Kane) — as in Citizen. Very nice tie-in with "Rosebud" (52D: Beloved object of 28-Down => SLED).
- 38D: Lallygagged (dawdled) — surprised to find that this is an acceptable alternate spelling of "lollygagged," which is the word I know.
- 63A: Like this puzzle ... not! (easy) — not a fan of this kind of winky crap. The supremely dated "Not!" joke makes it all the worse.
Have a nice Thursday. Signed,
Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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