1897 novel subtitled grotesque romance —THUR, 11/5/09— Pacific port where Amelia Earhart was last seen / Headwear banned by NFL 2001
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Constructor: Patrick Blindauer
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: "THE INVISIBLE MAN" (Note on puzzle reads: "When this puzzle is completed, one letter of the alphabet will appear 22 times. Shade in its square everywhere it appears. The result will be an image suggested by 36-Across.") — shade in the letter "S" to reveal THE (formerly) INVISIBLE stick figure MAN
Word of the Day: "SSSSSSS" (25D: 1973 horror flick about a doctor who turns his assistant into a cobra) — SSSSSSS (released as Ssssnake in the UK) is a 1973 horror film starring Dirk Benedict, Heather Menzies, Reb Brown, and Strother Martin. It was directed by Bernard L. Kowalski and written by Hal Dresner and Daniel C. Striepeke. The chilling makeup effects were created by John Chambers and Nick Marcellino. The film has developed a small cult reputation and is acclaimed by many horror fans as one of the better man-becomes-creature films out there. (wikipedia)
Had a decent enough time wrestling with this one, but when I finished I had no idea what the theme was supposed to be (didn't see that there was a "Note" at first, obviously). Knew that Thursday *had* to have a theme ... but what. Figured snakes were involved, what with "SSSSSSS" and SNAKING (22A: Not straight, in a way). "THE INVISIBLE MAN" suggested maybe a belated Halloween-esque / horror movie something-or-other. ROSES ARE RED (18A: Start of a lover's quatrain) even sounds kind of like a 70s horror flick, now that I think of it: "Roses Are Red ... Coeds Are Dead!"). Finally noticed the note — I've been solving in Black Ink and there is no bright notepad indicator as in AcrossLite — and then started doing what I normally don't care for. Drawing a picture on my grid after I've already finished it. Don't like themes that aren't intrinsic to the solving process. But I do like that the shading in of the squares actually relates to the single theme answer, i.e. that man *was* pretty damned INVISIBLE until I shaded him in. Gives new meaning to the idea of a "theme-revealer."
Had a hell of a time starting in the NW. After the easy CRI (1A: _____ de coeur), I couldn't get much besides the CLEAR in CLEAR CUT (1D: Plain as day). Went ORC instead of ENT at 17A: Tolkien creature — stupid mistake. If you're going to make an initial guess on that clue, always go ENT, if only bec. it's got the more common letters. I think I finally got some kind of rhythm going somewhere in or around SNAKING, and washed back over the top of the grid. Middle was tough at first because I'd never heard of and could hardly believe "SSSSSSS," and OSTIA wasn't any more forthcoming (34A: Port of ancient Rome). I just bought a new HOLST album, though, though even if I hadn't he would have been a gimme (42A: Composer of "The Planets"). That helped bring the middle into view, and the second half was on the whole much easier by comparison far easier than the first.
Main disappointment here is that SE corner, with the never-welcome INANER (49A: comparatively cockamamie) and his spiritual home base, LAE (65A: Pacific port where Amelia Earhart was last seen). When Caleb Madison and I wrote a puzzle this summer for Kevin Der's birthday, I constructed a corner that was really quite lovely ... except it had LAE in it. LAE was the three-letter word holding the corner together. It felt so icky, so crosswordesey, that I eventually begged Caleb to tear the whole thing out and rebuild it. Couldn't stand the sight of LAE. Had no idea LAE had anything to do with Earhart, so at least the clue taught me something today. Not that thrilled that this wide-open, do-what-you-want, knock-yourself-out section has INANER, LAE, and TERR. (54A: The Dakotas, once: Abbr.), though I have to give props to that clue. Nice misdirection with the apparent plural indicated by "The Dakotas."
- 14A: Computer system acronym (LAN) — took way too long to get. Had NES at one point (wrong in So many ways).
- 55A: #1 album for 13 weeks in 1966-67, with "The" ("Monkees") — had the -EES and wrote in BEEGEES! (yes, they were active that long before "Saturday Night Fever").
- 2D: Air Force base near San Antonio (Randolph) — no clue. Big part of why the NW was slowish for me.
- 21D: Hindu sage (rishi) — where have all the SWAMIs gone ... ?
- 35D: Mathematician Turing (Alan) — chemically castrated for being gay. Recently issued an apology by the British government.
- 46D: Like some algebra (linear) — helped me get started in SW. I know this term only because of having a mathematician best friend for so long.
- 47D: 1987 Suzanne Vega hit ("Luka") — flashing ... back ... year before ... college. Completely inprobably, this song makes me think of another song that was a hit at the same time (the time right before pop music went into its deepest darkest pit of despair: 1987-91):
- 51D: Indicator of brightness (MENSA) — I don't like "indicator." It's a group, not a sticker or a light bulb or a gauge or thing that might "indicate" something.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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P.S. check out the "stamp" that one of my readers made for me yesterday ... can't wait to use it. It's apparently transparent, so I have to figure out how to actually stamp it *on* something ...