FRIDAY, Sep. 4 2009 — Sponge skeleton parts / Freshener since the 1890s / Punch-Out!! maker / Hitter of 66 in 98 / Iberian infants
Friday, September 4, 2009
A small needlelike structure or part, such as one of the silicate or calcium carbonate processes supporting the soft tissue of certain invertebrates, especially sponges.
[Latin spīculum. See spiculum.]-----
Grid looks fiercer than it is. Hard to get a toehold, but once you get a bunch of crosses through a pair of those 15s, the 15s become evident and the puzzle opens up some. Started by filling in S after S after S. So many S-ending words, including seven (!) "S"s that are terminal for two words at once, e.g. HYMNALS/MOLARS, HASSLES/ORIENTS, etc. etc. etc. The 15s — what's supposed to be impressive — are all very solid, if a bit dull. Good job to sneak a "Z" in there, because otherwise the grid is remarkably devoid of Scrabbly letters. In addition to the "S"s, there's an "-ED" pile-up that's really quite impressive: NUKED over HOLED over REASONED x/w BENDED and ROOKED. Truly bad fill is pretty minimal, and most of it's limited to the N / NE. The two-T'd BATTEAU (8A: Small river craft: Var.) ... I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'd have changed the "B" to a "W" just to avoid the "Var." (Yes, WATTEAU is a thing). All in all, where compromise fill is concerned, T'ISN'T AS BAD as it could have been, given the openness of the grid and the fancy interlocking 15s
I was happy to remember SEN-SEN from an earlier puzzle (31A: Freshener since the 1890s). Ditto SPICULES, a word that caused me to wipe out on the very first Sunday puzzle I ever wrote up nearly three years ago.
- 15A: Psychiatrist's arsenal (anti-depressants) — "arsenal" feels off, and slightly loaded/judgmental.
- 17A: They were used on old TV's "Twenty One" (isolation booths) — my favorite of the long answers.
- 21A: Increase in volume, in mus. (cres.) — for "CREScendo."
- 23A: Modern, in Münster (neue) — got it right away. My crossword-German is coming right along.
- 33A: Punch-Out!! maker (Nintendo) — don't know what this is, but love the clue, if only for the exclamation points.
- 38A: Ravel's "Ma Mère _____," a k a "Mother Goose" ("L'Oye") — I love me some Ravel, and this was a gimme for me, but LOYE still feels ouchy to me. The piece itself is not at all ouchy.
- 44A: Process associated with socialism (nationalization) — now that we live in a socialist country (...) this should have been easy for all of you. All of you. Equally.
- 3D: Long-disproven scientific theory (Ptolemaic system) — probably the coolest-looking of the long answers. I realized as I was filling it in that I wasn't sure what my second or third vowel was. PTOLOMEIC? PTOLAMAIC? Yikes.
- 41A: Little of wee follower (uns) — in olde-tymey hickspeak, I guess. Isn't "young" a more common preceder of "UNS?"
- 4D: Framework components (sills) — I had TILES at first.
- 29D: Iberian infants (nenes) — when you're tired of Hawaiian geese, this is your clue.
- 42D: Hitter of 66 in '98 (Sosa) — He has (well, had) the Prototypical PAD-user's body. Squat and puffy, like a float in a parade, only more taut and muscly. In unrelated news, I keep reading this clue as [Hitler of 66 in '98].
- 43D: Old propaganda source (Tass) — Communism crossing Socialism in the NYT. Why am I not surprised?
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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