Ancient city whose name means rock —FRI Sep. 18 2009— Satirist Freberg / Literary character played film Charles Laughton Anthony Perkins Geoffrey Rush
Friday, September 18, 2009
Constructor: Charles E. Gersch
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
Word of the Day: TYRE (5D: Ancient city whose name means "rock") — Tyre is an ancient Phoenician city and the legendary birthplace of Europa and Elissa (Dido). Today it is the fourth largest city in Lebanon and houses one of the nation's major ports. Tourism is a major industry. The city has a number of ancient sites, including its Roman Hippodrome which was added to UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites in 1979 (wikipedia)
HALF-CENTURY PUZZLEMAKERS' WEEK
All the daily crosswords this week, Monday through Saturday, are by puzzlemakers who have been contributing to The Times for more than 50 years. Charles Gersch, of New York City, had his first crossword published on February 21, 1944, when he was 13, in the New York Herald Tribune. He made his Times debut in 1951.
Not much to say about this one. Felt a bit staid, and not as wide open as most late-week grids, but it was an enjoyable romp nonetheless. Hardest part was the NW corner, where "HAPPY TALK" was completely unknown to me (14A: "South Pacific" song that asks "If you don't have a dream, / How you gonna have a dream come true?"). Just now I wrote in "HAPPY FEET," which something I have heard of, Steve Martin stand-up being much more familiar to me than the soundtrack of "South Pacific."
Seems like there's been a slight uptick in musical theater + opera clues this week (today, see "FIDELIO" — 22A: Opera that includes the "Prisoners' Chorus"), but I could easily be imagining that. Tweak a clue or two and this entire puzzle could have come straight out of 1979 (even the ESPN part, as that network — or SportsCenter at least — just turned 30). You'd have to tweak the (lovely) clue for DIANE (52A: Chambers in a bar — a "Cheers" reference, in case you somehow didn't know), take Geoffrey Rush out of the clue for INSPECTOR JAVERT (55A: Literary character played in film by Charles Laughton, Anthony Perkins and Geoffrey Rush), and make GOV a simple abbrev. (33A: E-mail address ender). But the puzzle is very fair to solvers of all ages. Actually, hmmm, not sure about TEENAGE solvers. I'll see what Caleb says. But in general, right over the plate for a Friday.
- 18A: West African currency (Leone) — part of my minor troubles in the NW. Learned this term from xwords and still need crosses to pick it up, apparently. Not sure what I would have done with this corner if INSURANCE POLICY hadn't come crashing in (16A: Something that may cover a house).
- 24A: Satirist Freberg (Stan) — My big "???" of the day. Actually, INSPECTOR JAVERT was a big "???" as well. Never seen any production of "Les Misérables." Never read it either.
- 34A: Its maiden flight carried its country's president home (El Al) — what else? That airline has become the Random Trivia Generator answer. If you want to win a trivia contest about Israeli airlines, just read the previous clue list for EL AL. It's endless.
- 35A: Pitcher's ploy (intentional walk) — Barry Bonds got a lot of these. Manny and Pujols get their fair share as well. Some hitters are just too scary. That, or first base is open and you want to increase the opportunities for a force out in a late-game situation where you absolutely can't allow the lead runner to score.
- 61A: One seriously into Civil War history, maybe (re-enactor) — will never understand the desire to recreate this war. "Hey, it's an incredibly bloody war that tore the country apart ... let's do it again! It's fun! The uniforms are neat!" But then again I get up and write about crossword puzzles every morning, so ... maybe not one to disparage other people's weird hobbies.
- 1D: 1962 World Cup host (Chile) — wanted ITALY at first.
- 15D: "Cracklin' _____" (Neil Diamond hit) — the LAT puzzle today also features the work of Mr. Diamond. Grew up on his songs. Big fan.
- 27D: Bygone spray (alar) — always ALAR. If you don't like that answer, ask yourself how much you like AL'ER. Then be grateful and move on.
- 28D: Ayn Rand hero (Galt) — In college I would see bumper stickers that read "Who Is John Galt?" and I always wanted to reply, to the bumper stickers directly, "He's a Scottish author who wrote Annals of the Parish. Now stop bothering me."
- 32D: Alphabet quartet (stuv) — the four-letter alphabet quartet is, without a doubt, the laziest constructing ploy. That "V" is not worth it.
- 46D: Colgate rival (Crest) — once I got colleges out of my head, this was easy.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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