Red of early jazz — THURSDAY, Oct. 22 2009 — 1967 war locale / Saving Grace airer / Completer of fifth pillar of Islam
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Constructor: Joel Fagliano
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: A SHOT IN / THE DARK (27A: With 52-Across wild guess ... or what the answer to each starred clue has?) — phrases containing "SHOT" have that word represented by black square, so that SHOT appears to be IN THE DARK
Word of the Day: Red NORVO (37D: Red of early jazz) — Red Norvo (March 31, 1908 – April 6, 1999) was one of jazz's early vibraphonists, known as "Mr. Swing". He helped establish the xylophone and later the vibraphone as viable jazz instruments. His major recordings included "Dance of the Octopus", "Bughouse", "Knockin' on Wood", "Congo Blues", and "Hole in the Wall". (wikipedia)
Really great theme idea with especially impressive execution (symmetry!). I had GLASS over NOT BY A LONG and thought "hmmm ... there is a SHOT over ... something ... SHOT across the bow? SHOT through the heart and you're to blame?"
But I quickly realized that both GLASS and NOT BY A LONG were missing their SHOTs and from there the puzzle fell very, very quickly. A Wednesdayish time (low 5's) for me. 90+% of the grid was a breeze, but then all of a sudden these names would drop in that forced me to work every single cross. NORVO was one (I know NOVO NORDISK, but not this guy) and EMMETT was the other (11D: Daniel Decatur _____, composer of "Dixie"), though the latter was far more inferrable. And then there was KNURL (54D: Small ridge on the edge of a button or dial). KNURL! I nominate it for the Pantheon of World's Ugliest Words. Sounds like a horrid, curly, knobby growth of some kind. URKEL + KERNEL + HURL = KNURL. It's a real word, though, so I can't complain about its inclusion. But I can stand in slack-jawed horror and point at it. That is my right.
- 5A: *Jigger (
- 17A: *"That's way off" (not by a long
- 38A: *Photo (snap
- 39A: *Colorful party drink (Jello
- 40A: *Rejected (
- 62A: *Quick hitch (
- 71A: *Y-shaped item (sling
- 10D: *What "fore" may precede (tee
- 61D: *Track-and-field event (
Love that run of three consecutive "SHOT" answers in the middle. Nice.
- 15A: 1967 war locale (Sinai) — Six Day War, in which MOSHE DAYAN (of the distinctive eye patch) distinguished himself. I just like writing / saying his name.
- 30A: Stop on Magellan's circumnavigation of the world (Guam) — "we're just stopping, we're not staying, so don't go far ..."
- 58A: Solo in science fiction (Han) — his grid popularity seems to be up of late. That may be a false impression, but it *feels* right.
- 3D: Vegetable that's peeled (rutabaga) — coincidentally heard this word used (disparagingly, with humorous intent) in a radio interview with the White House chef yesterday. "So does that mean more RUTABAGAs and fewer french fries on the menu? [titter tee hee I'm so glib and RUTABAGAs is such a funny word]". He should have responded "Yes. Yes, that's exactly what eating well means. Substitute RUTABAGAS for french fries, and you're good to go. Excellent question."
- 22D: Cuisine with sen yai noodles (Thai) — hey, I like THAI food. Why have I never had / heard of these?
- 25D: Spiritualist's tool (Ouija) — for real? This isn't just some stupid board game that 12-yr-olds play on sleepovers in the 1980s?
- 31D: Pinochle combos (melds) — I know this term while knowing Nothing about "pinochle."
- 45D: Mako shark prey (opah) — one of the crosswordesiest fish known to mankind.
- 56D: Completer of the fifth pillar of Islam (Hadji) — I wrote HALAL at first (?). HADJI is a racist epithet in the wrong mouths (a fact discussed in a book I was reading before bed last night, weirdly enough). Also spelled HAJI.
- 26D: Whistle-blower (namer) — wife made fantastic error last night. She wrote NADER here. Then, since of course she didn't know NORVO, she was left with IDEA-IT at 35A: "For real!" She eventually worked it all out, but was quite ready to put a "T" in that blank square. "For real! I'D EAT IT!" Makes sense to me.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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PS Syndicated solvers, I've written a special breast cancer benefit puzzle. Read about it / get it here. Thx.