Former capital of Yukon — SUNDAY, Oct. 11 2009 — Diminutive drum / Fictional inspector Dalgliesh / Parisian walk
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Constructor: Randolph Ross
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: "AUTHOR! AUTHOR!" — two authors' names combine to make a punning phrase, which is clued wackily (i.e. with "?" on the end)
Word of the Day: ATMAN (97A: Hindu soul) — (Sanskrit: "breath" or "self") Basic concept in Hindu philosophy, describing that eternal core of the personality that survives death and transmigrates to a new life or is released from the bonds of existence. Atman became a central philosophical concept in the Upanishads. It underlies all aspects of personality, as Brahman underlies the working of the universe. The schools of Samkhya, Yoga, and Vedanta are particularly concerned with atman. (Britannica Concise Encyclopedia) // see also ANATMAN: "Non-self, the absence of self; the key Buddhist doctrine that both the individual and objects are devoid of any unchanging, eternal, or autonomous substratum." (Buddhism Dictionary)
There is some cuteness here, and the theme is very dense (12 answers!), but overall I was not that thrilled by this puzzle. The answers are author's name + author's name = sort of familiar-sounding phrase. Only sometimes it's very familiar (WRIGHT PRICE) and sometimes it's not (STOUT KING) and sometimes it's spelled exactly right (SNOW WHITE) and sometimes not (STEELE MANN). So are you making familiar phrases or just ... phrases? That's the main issue. Like I said, some of the cluing involved a certain amount of cleverness and wittiness, but overall, it felt really wonky at a conceptual level. Beyond that, there are two answers with IN
- IN NO TIME (7D: Very quickly)
- IN A SPOT (105A: Stuck)
and two answers with OUT (not including Rex StOUT)
- METE OUT (54A: Apportion)
- SIGNS OUT (83D: Leaves with notice)
and then there was the hideous co-appearance of
O'MEARA (10D: Golf champ) and
MEARA (69D: Stiller and ____)
... who are both lovely, but who should Never share a grid.
Boo and boo.
Toughest part for me was, oddly, the far NE corner, where I could not accept that DADA was a "vocabulary word" (!?!?! 15D: Early vocabulary word). Unless your child is learning language via art history books, this clue sucks, as babytalk "DADA" has never been considered a "vocabulary word" by anyone anywhere. Why not just [Early word]? That, I'd buy. Other trouble in NE: I had ALOT for 16D: Madly (amok). No idea who the fictional inspector was. ADAM was a guess off a couple of theoretical crosses (14A: Fictional inspector Dalgliesh). Even GAME (21A: Willing) and MEN'S (17D: Department store department) weren't exactly obvious. Other rough bit was the middle. WIRED UP doesn't sound like a real phrase to me (78A: Very tense and excited). That clue = WIRED. Or KEYED UP. Bombs are WIRED UP. Did you mean WOUND UP? I have to think so. French failed me at ALLÉE (60D: Parisian walk), at least for a while. So I had to fight my way into that section. But other than that, the puzzle was pretty typical, difficulty-wise. If you are generally familiar with author names, it should have posed little problem.
- 22A: Bret and Robert's treatise on acid reflux? (HARTE BURNS)
- 24A: Nathanael and Jack's travel guide about Heathrow's environs? (WEST LONDON)
- 37A: Jonathan and Alice's account of a pedestrian in a hurry? (SWIFT WALKER)
- 47A: C.P. and E.B.'s essay on purity? (SNOW WHITE)
- 59A: Caleb and Robert B.'s novel about valet service? (CARR PARKER)
- 70A: Richard and Thomas's book about a robot? (STEELE MANN)
- 83A: Rex and Stephen's biography of Henry VIII? (STOUT KING)
- 90A: Oscar and Isaac's profile of Little Richard? (WILDE SINGER)
- 109A: Dan and Virginia's story of a dark-colored predator? (BROWN WOOLF)
- 111A: Ezra and Irving's memoir of a stand-up comic? (POUNDSTONE)
- 36D: Horton and John's podiatry journal article? (FOOTE BUNYAN)
- 40D: Richard and Reynolds's bargain hunting manual? (WRIGHT PRICE)
- 9A: _____ Wagner, player on an ultrarare baseball card (Honus) — why are you giving one of the most famous baseball players in all history the [BLANK last name] treatment. [Wagner on an ultrarare baseball card] would have been just fine.
- 19A: Name after "you" ("Jane") — yeah, that's good.
- 20A: Gulf Stater? (Omani) — I don't understand use of capital-S "Stater" here. Captial "S" makes sense only if (like Florida) Oman actually has the nickname "The Gulf State." Or maybe the states on the Persian Gulf are collectively called capital "G" Gulf capital "S" States...
- 27A: It includes the line "The True North strong and free!") ("O Canada") — "Strong and Free and Cold as !@#S!" is, believe, Canada's national motto.
- 31A: Diminutive drum (tabor) — also a medium-sized city in the Czech Republic.
- 40A: "_____ hoppen?" ("Wha") — up there on my list of "you must be kidding me" answers.
- 85A: Ally of the Cheyenne (Arapahoe) — had ARAPAHOS at first 'cause the terminal "E" just looked weeeird to me.
- 98A: He was born Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus (Nero) — interesting clue for common answer.
- 103A: Big newspaper company, informally (Scripps) — not sure if it's "informal" for "E. W. SCRIPPS" or "SCRIPPS Howard News Service." SCRIPPS is also a liberal arts college in Claremont, CA.
- 118A: Coordinate geometry calculation (slope) — first read "coordinate" as a verb ...
- 14D: For whom Safire wrote the words "nattering nabobs of negativism" (Agnew) — William Safire, famous word maven, died just last month.
- 28D: Co. that dances at the Met (ABT) — American Ballet Theatre (again I say if you are "American" you ought to learn to spell "THEATER" appropriately).
- 56D: When repeated, a Thor Heyerdahl title (Aku) — ??? To me, AKU is the bad guy on "Samurai Jack."
- 81D: Former capital of the Yukon (Dawson) — completely new to me. Feels like something I should have known (should have learned from xwords, in fact) long ago.
- 87D: Brand that has "Real Facts" on its products (Snapple) — when they pare it down to just "Facts," maybe I'll start drinking.
- 96D: Stanford QB drafted #1 in 1983 (Elway) — Long, amazing career. Seemed doomed never to win a Super Bowl until ... he did. Twice. Then immediately retired. And STAYED retired. Smart guy.
Now for your Puzzle Tweets of the Week — puzzle chatter from the Twitterverse:
- katmorton My new goal is to become a crossword whiz. Plus the best wife, mother, teacher, maid, chef, psychologist, accountant, taxi driver.......
- aglunz Forgot to bring something to read on the plane...my crossword puzzle better not be filled out already!
- abercaw Why do people thinks its appropriate to play music and sing in the campus center while I'm quietly doing a crossword puzzle?
- falsestart The woman next to me on the el is blowing through her crossword and I'm a little jealous of her skills, tbh. [Amy ... ?]
- kathrynadele Wondering how on earth the Daily Collegian manages to have an incorrect crossword every single day.
- KyleDeas The NYPost's crossword is literally just an exercise in writing. Seriously: "what we breathe", three letters, starts with A. COME ON.
- tanyaxx Whoever said crosswords are relaxing is sick in the head.
- betsyphd Finished the NYT Sun xword in 31:13 with no help & with a baby on my chest. Heading over to @rexparker to read how ridiculously easy it was.
- TwitKingMamo Crosswords are gay to the utmost
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]