WEDNESDAY, Oct. 14 2009 — Gallows-shaped letter / Univac's predecessor / Perle who inspired Call me Madam / Scepter toppers / Wise old Greek
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
- 20A: - (BRITISH ALE HOUSE) => i.e. PUB
- 25A: - (COOTIES) => i.e. LICE
- 46A: - (OLD COIN) => i.e. DUCAT
- 52A: - (CHARGED PARTICLE) => i.e. ION
PUB + LICE + DUCAT + ION = PUBLIC EDUCATION
Word of the Day: ONAGER (46D: Wild ass) — n.
- A fast-running wild ass (Equus hemionus subsp. onager) of central Asia, having an erect mane and a broad black stripe along its back.
- An ancient and medieval stone-propelling siege engine.
[Middle English, from Late Latin, from Latin, wild ass, from Greek onagros : onos, ass + agrios, wild.]-----
This one was crazy and odd enough that I actually liked it despite the fact that it didn't really feel like a crossword. More like a hybrid of crossword and loopy word game. Made for a weird solving experience where theme answers in top half required many, many crosses (essentially clueless answers will do that), while theme answers in bottom half were effectively clued, as PUBLIC EDUCATION was already in place and I could infer the two clue words (DUCAT and ION) from the letters that remained after PUB and LICE were taken. Could have been a very hard puzzle, but the Downs were clued So easily that picking up the long, unclued answers up top didn't take too much time. The crucial part of the puzzle — the tipping point — it seems to me, is the far west. If you could get in there, and had any success up top, you could bring the puzzle down, but it's a Little hard to get in there as two of the four Acrosses are unclued. Thankfully, most of those short Downs in that section went down quickly, the most important being CAPE (25D: Massachusetts getaway, with "the"), which gave first letters to the unclued answers. From there I got out as far as PUBLIC E ... and then made a guess as to the rest of it, which was quickly confirmed off Downs.
Didn't know that COOTIES were LICE. Thought they were imaginary thing that boys / girls had around age 6. Not thrilled that both PUBLIC and HOUSE are in puzzle, since PUB (the first part of our main theme answer) is, by definition, short for PUBLIC HOUSE. Other than that, no complaints. Nice to see Rex (19A: Alternative to Rover or Rex => SPORT) and PARKER (44D: Sarah Jessica of "Sex and the City") in the puzzle together again today (as they were on Sunday)
- 1A: Gallows-shaped letter (gamma) — had No idea. I've clearly never looked at the letter gamma before. Someone should tell gamma it looks like a plain old lowercase "r."
- 24A: Wise old Greek (Nestor) — he's the dude in the Iliad that no one wants to listen to at first.
- 51A: Atom _____, 1960s cartoon superhero (Ant) — never seen it. How is that possible? Guess it didn't get rerun in the '70s.
- 22D: Univac's predecessor (Eniac) — once again, I have to say that "Univac" sounds like a word that should be clued [Dustbuster competitor]. How is it *not* a small vacuum?
- 9A: Perle who inspired "Call Me Madam" (Mesta) — Perle MESTA has one of the crosswordesiest names of all time, in that first and last names appear in puzzles AND (like the finest crosswordese) her currency / popularity in the general culture has nearly completely faded, and yet she haunts the grid for eternity.
- 27D: Scepter toppers (orbs) — "toppers" is pretty informal for something so ... regal.
- 33D: Founder and first queen of Carthage (Dido) — oh, the antics and capers and escapades she would have. Why, one time, she and Aeneas went into this cave during a rain storm ...
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to bake a cake. Today is my wife's birthday.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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