1926 English channel crosser — FRIDAY, Nov. 27 2009 — Enjoy the honey-heavy dew of Shak / First U.S. computer to predict US election outcome
Friday, November 27, 2009
Constructor: Ed Sessa
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (minus tryptophan and 12yo scotch, probably more like Medium)
THEME: TURKEY LEFTOVERS (59A: Post-Thanksgiving fare) — two other answers begin A WING and A LEG, respectively
Word of the Day: Gertrude EDERLE (48D: 1926 English channel crosser) — Gertrude Caroline Ederle (October 23, 1905 – November 30, 2003) was an American competitive swimmer. In 1926, she became the first woman to swim across the English Channel. [as six-letter answers go, she's surprisingly common, though that didn't keep me from completely forgetting her today] (wikipedia)
I did this post-Thanksgiving dinner, post chocolate pie w/ fresh whipped cream, post-12yo scotch (birthday gift), so I was feeling good but Not moving through the puzzle very well. The whole top part made me feel lost, esp. the NE. I hate the word ARISTOS so much (in that I refuse to believe anyone actually says it) that it never occurred to me at 8A: British V.I.P.'s to Brits. Not thrilled at the "I" part — ARISTOcratS are "important?" Now? Bah. Never heard of DENTON'S (16A: Dr. _____ (infant sleepers)), so the NE was a slog. All I could do was poke at things (an EL AL here (6D: JFK-to-TLV carrier), a NOGO there (33A: Scrubbed)). Then put in DOGS at 5D: Things near Baskerville Hall (I've been reading some A.C. Doyle lately) and despite its wrongness it helped me get CONSOLE (15A: Place for buttons) and then a couple Down answers off of that, and then whatever meager combination of letters I had at 17A: Hope born of desperation got me A WING AND A PRAYER. At this point I'm still assuming that the puzzle is themeless (it's Friday, after all).
The top would remain incomplete and patchy for a while as I moved via BONER (31D: Blockheaded move) and DEAD (39D: Gone to glory) into the bottom half of the puzzle. DEAD to DADE to SENSES to TRESSES (confirmed by ARAFAT and STIR) helped me make short work of the SE, *except* ... I couldn't remember EDERLE (48D: 1926 English Channel swimmer) at all and by the time I had that corner done, the name I had in place was EDERSE. Who is this EDERSE person I've never heard of? Is that a last name? Or is his name ED ERSE (I may have to add that to my roster of aliases)? Never ever occurred to me that 63A: Site for a seal, maybe would be anything but AIRHOSE. Your AIRHOSE would need a seal of some sort in order to maintain proper airflow. Or if it ever had a leak or tear. I really don't understand how AIRHOLE work unless the clue is *trying* to refer to the fact that seals (the aquatic mammals) have AIRHOLEs. But they don't. Do they? No. Or do you make a seal against an AIRHOLE in order to breathe out of it? Oh, so ... this clue is somehow referring to the holes that seals (aquatic mammals) might breathe out of??? Clue seems atrocious to me. I eventually changed that "S" to the "correct" "L" because I suddenly remembered EDERLE, but ... god bless you ED ERSE, wherever you are. It should have been you.
I am told that a seal's breathing hole (made in ice) is called an AGLU. Now there's a word you pray never to see in your puzzle.
I hereby REPROVE (64A: Dress down) the "word" ORIENTE (62A: Where Japón is). LET 'ER RIP (37D: "O.K. ... go!"), on the other hand, is fantastic.
- 17A: Hope born of desperation (A WING and a prayer)
- 36A: Justifiable basis for one's position (A LEG to stand on)
- 59A: Post-Thanksgiving fare (TURKEY leftovers)
- 1A: "Enjoy the honey-heavy dew of _____": Shak. ("slumber") — had S-UM-ER and still took many, many seconds to figure it out. "The heavy dew of STUMPER? Who's STUMPER?" The clue on this one made me laff — read aloud, it sounds like "Enjoy the honey-heavy dew of Shaq!"
- 22A: 1950s-'60s NBC host (Paar) — should've been a gimme, but I figured it might be some Friday trick, so I didn't put it in til late. I actually went back and picked it up after I got LENO (54D: A successor to 22-Across) — awkward "A" in that clue because, of course, LENO was not *the* successor.
- 28A: Running things (in control) — really nice (tough) clue. Figured the answer was a plural. DISHWASHE... oh it doesn't fit.
- 1D: Garlicky dish (scampi) — I have decided I really like the look of the word "garlicky."
- 2D: Figure on a totem pole, figuratively (low man) — torn here. Like the daring quality of the clue, but still found it a little wonky. LOW MAN doesn't stand alone very happily.
- 3D: First computer to predict a U.S. election outcome (Univac) — I know ENIAC and UNIVAC *exclusively* because of crosswords.
- 8D: Most populous county of Idaho (Ada) — Dumb luck — ADA county is in a clue in the breast cancer benefit puzzle I just released this week (see below). Would not have been a gimme for me otherwise.
- 12D: Schroeder's instrument in "Peanuts" (toy piano) — true enough, and very easy to get off just the "Y".
- 23D: Boxer's name holder (robe) — tricky. You would never actually *say* that the boxer's ROBE is "holding" his name, but the answer seems accurate enough on a literal level.
- 44D: Lipped lab container (beaker) — not sure why, but I went looking for PIPET (PIPPETTE?).
- 47D: Cinephiles often watch for them (cameos) — ??? Cinephiles watch movies for lots of things. They might notice or remark on CAMEOS, but I have a hard time imagining a group of cinephiles getting together to watch for them, specifically. Hitchcock movie watchers might watch for them (in that they're expected). Any other context doesn't ring very true.
Also, Doug Peterson and Andrea Carla Michaels wrote a birthday puzzle for me — a verrrrry insidery puzzle all about this blog and the community of people who comment on it frequently. Really lovely work. Get it here.
Thanks — enjoy your Black Friday. My day = comics and pie.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]
PS here's a recent Slate article by Matt Gaffney about how it is that two constructors might come up with virtually identical puzzles completely independently of one another — very informative about constructing issues.