Christine's lover Phantom of the Opera —TUES, Oct. 6 2009 — All-Star Danny who played for 1980s Celtics / Romance/suspense novelist Tami
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Constructor: Matt Ginsberg
Relative difficulty: Challenging
THEME: Consecutive letters — 6 theme clues are simply three-letter combinations used to clue words that are unique in having those combinations in them. "First" theme clue is 18A: Only common word in the English language with the consecutive letters MPG (caMPGround), and subsequent theme clues just contain three-letter strings between ellipses
Word of the Day: AINGE (12D: All-Star Danny who played for the 1980s Celtics) — Daniel Ray "Danny" Ainge (born March 17, 1959 in Eugene, Oregon) is an American retired professional basketball and baseball player who is currently the President of Basketball Operations for the Boston Celtics of the NBA. He played in the NBA for the Celtics, Sacramento Kings, Portland Trail Blazers, and Phoenix Suns, and also in Major League Baseball for the Toronto Blue Jays. (wikipedia) — he was on the Celtics championship teams of '84 and '86, and he was an All-Star once, in 1988.
Interesting concept for a puzzle. Took me well over 4 minutes to finish, which on a Tuesday counts as "Challenging." As far as I was concerned, there was no clear theme at first — just a bunch of clues that read [... three letters ...]. That's because, like most human beings, I started in the NW, and the first theme answer I encountered, therefore, was 2D: ... SPB ... (raspberry). Convention has it that the Across answers precede the Downs in terms of any ongoing theme, and thus it makes sense for info for the whole theme to be put in the first *Across* theme answer. But practically, it's unlikely that most people saw the "first" theme answer first, esp. those who, like me, were solving in AcrossLite, where you can't effectively see all the clues laid out in front of you at once. No matter. It just slowed me down is all. Beyond that, I think the cluing and fill was tough enough to put it, on average, on the "Challenging" side of things, wherever you happened to start it.
- 18A: Only common word in the English language with the consecutive letters MPG (ca MPG round)
- 28A: ... ADQ ... (he ADQ uarters)
- 48A: ... KSG ... (Than KSG iving) — mmm, my favorite day. Also, this year, my birthday.
- 62A: ... ZKR ... (blit ZKR ieg) — wife and I had same reaction, independently of one another: "That's not an English word." But of course it is ... now.
- 2D: ... SPB ... (ra SPB erry)
- 35D: ... NKC ... (cra NKC ase) — here's where my wife had problems. She had CRANKCALL and then couldn't make sense of what ended up being a ridiculous S-EE collision in the SE. All SPEE (71A: German admiral Maximilian von _____) and SMEE (61D: Right-hand man for a man with no right hand) need is a SNEE and their ridiculous crosswordese party would be complete. That SMEE clue is equal parts cute and annoying. There was more trickiness and cutesiness in the cluing than I'm used to seeing on a Tuesday.
Wife also had trouble in and around AINGE (12D: All-Star Danny who played for the 1980s Celtics), who was unknown to her (and probably a lot of people — he's baffled NYT solvers before). She hadn't heard of the SEGO lily (23A: _____ lily), so botched the "G." How *I* have heard of a lily she hasn't is beyond me. She is the botanically inclined one in this family. Theme density of course leads to some YECCH fill (33A: "This tastes horrible!") like IRED and THRO and AOKI and REINK and even RHE, which sadly I had to look up once when I didn't understand what it meant. Runs, Hits, and Errors. . . . and I have been a baseball fan for 30+ years. All in all, a curious, unusual Tuesday that gets bonus points for originality.
- 1A: Christine's lover in "The Phantom of the Opera" (Erik) — so 1A was a no-go for me. Never read it or seen it, never heard of the guy. Things took a while to speed up after this.
- 37A: Really ticked (ired) — a hateful word that should be banned. IRE, yes, IRED, no.
- 52A: "I don't want to hear about it!" ("Spare me!") — slowed me down; when I first looked at it, the answer appeared as if it would be SUPREME (?).
- 66A: Cowboy star Lash, who taught Harrison Ford how to use a bullwhip (Larue) — unnecessary info after "Lash" (hence the otherwise unnecessary comma ... ?)
- 67A: Boat in "Jaws" (Orca) — not a Tues. clue for ORCA. Good, but on the tougher end of the ORCA clue scale.
- 13D: PC platform introduced in 1982 (MS-DOS) — computers in my 1983-84 computer science course must have run on this O/S, but at home we only ever had a Mac.
- 29D: First anti-AIDS drug (AZT) — interesting note re: AIDS — as an answer, it's only been clued in relation to the disease since 2007. Puzzle didn't even start mentioning AIDS in its AZT clues until last year.
- 36D: Romance/suspense novelist Tami (Hoag) — yay! I mean, I've never read her, but I used her in a puzzle I just made, and one of my testers was like "???" but I thought she should fly as an answer just fine.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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