Sandwich Edam or Champagne — SATURDAY, Oct. 3 2009 — Payload holder / Von Rothbart turned her into swan / Secret agent created by 1938 Pulitzer winner
Saturday, October 3, 2009
- A place name.
- A name derived from a place or region. (answers.com)
Started out feeling very tough, and then smoothed out a bit for an overall average Saturday solving struggle. NW was the hardest part for me because COMEDIAN fit where FUNNYMAN was supposed to go (15A: Stand-up guy). My worst solving experiences are almost always ones wherein I lock in a wrong answer at some point, and that was a big one (though I will say that as I wrote COMEDIAN in, part of me was thinking ... "that was a little too easy"). Also was certain that there was word play involved in 1A: Cousin of ours, so went looking for one of two things — a. another, longer word (or phrase) that was roughly equivalent to the possessive pronoun "ours," or b. a French for an animal that is roughly equivalent to a bear ("ours" being French for "bear"). But no — literally, a cousin of ours, yours and mine (assuming you believe in evolution): GREAT APE.
The grid was pretty cool but a little flat for a Saturday. There's a serious lack of Scrabbly letters — no Zs, Qs, Js, or Xs at all. Lots and lots of RLSTNE, esp in the center north and the SE. And yet the clever / brutal cluing and overall smooth fill kept it tough and enjoyable throughout. My last stand was in the upper SW. I failed to get in from up top, so in the end I came at it from underneath. Kept wanting EPONYM where TOPONYM was supposed to go, but of course it didn't fit. Figured TAPAS BAR was right (31D: Where to get croquetas) — I had the BAR part in place — but I had "I'M IN HERE" for "OVER HERE" (32D: Cry for attention), so that made things tough for a bit. Also, PINCHERS is the lamest answer in the whole grid, so much so that I couldn't believe it was the answer to the clue (33D: Tight shoes, e.g.). I think that corner came together when I gave up on "I'M IN HERE" and then threw ARCS across the section (44A: Doesn't go straight), which allowed me then to see the correct Downs. Game Over. Took me a leisurely 14:30 or so, which is average-ish, I think.
Had some issues with my ignorance of word meanings today. EFFETE means what now? 9D: Worn out? That's a new one on me. The AGE LIMIT answer puzzled me slightly only because AGE MINIMUM seems the more appropriate answer (12D: 19, for N.B.A. players). LIMIT implies that one is headed in a direction beyond which one may not go, therefore usually an *upper* limit. You can have *lower* limits, of course, but again, I usually think of such limits being ones you might fall beneath. You can't get younger, so calling an AGE MINIMUM an AGE LIMIT feels all kinds of awkward to me. Doesn't stop it from being the right answer, though. Would not have put ARROYO with 54A: Wash except I had the last two letters in place. Seems ARROYOs (dry creek beds that fill w/ water after rains) are also called "washes" or "draws." And now you (I) know. Speaking of ARROYO, a little heavy on the Spanish today, I have to say. ARROYO, plus ESPANA (9A: Rey Juan Carlos's home) plus AVILA (36A: Site of Prince Don Juan's tomb) plus TAPAS BAR. And that's not counting TRINI Alvarado, who is American but has a Spanish-born father and Puerto Rican mother. I had No Idea who Ms. Alvarado was, until I looked her up and realized that she has been on "Fringe," which I watch regularly. Weird.
My favorite answers of the day were OLD GROWTH FOREST (17A: Much of Redwood National Park) — that just seems original, so don't tell me if it's not — and LEE MARVIN (24D: Best Actor of 1965), who would be ideal of manhood if I aspired to be a really bad guy. Awesome, mid-century American badass. Love him.
- 16A: It holds its liquor (flagon) — couldn't make FLASK stretch.
- 26A: Sandwich site: Abbr. (Eng.) — ah, the Sandwich subtheme. Get it ... sub ... sandwich? That was a total accident. I really do hate puns, mostly.
- 40A: Secret agent created by a 1938 Pulitzer winner (Mr. Moto) — I often forget that J.P. Marquand had another literary life outside of the MOTO mystery series.
- 48A: Finnish composer Bergman (Erik) — Never heard of him. I know ERIK Satie and Ingrid Bergman.
- 49A: Von Rothbart turned her into a swan (Odette) — Never going to be able to distinguish her from ODESSA and ODETTA. Or maybe I will. Someday.
- 50D: Illustrator of Cervantes's "Don Quixote" (Doré) — Gustave DORÉ is one of the most famous book illustrators of all time. I use his Dante illustrations all the time for teaching.
- 4D: Existential topic for Heidegger (angst) — I had GEIST (!?)
- 5D: Home to a Shakespearean prince (Tyre) — as in "Pericles, Prince of Tyre"
- 13D: Payload holder (nose cone) — this came easily through crosses, but might have been tougher, much tougher, without them.
- 18D: Occasion for judging jumping (horse show) — daughter is currently Very into horses, like in that cliché way that 9-yr-olds are. Literally asked for a horse for her birthday. Who does that? She has some create/decorate-your-own-horse art project going on downstairs that she's Really into.
- 27D: Elizabeth of "Lone Star," 1996 (Peña) — loved that movie, loved her in it.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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