Historic racetrack site — WEDNESDAY, Nov. 18 2009 — Eau de vie from Gascony / Vintage synthetic fabric / Indoor dipole antenna colloquially
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Constructor: Paula Gamache
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: JACKS TO OPEN (60A: Five-card draw variation ... or a hint to 17-, 30-, 36- and 44-Across) — opening words of theme answers can be preceded by JACK in common phrases
Word of the Day: HIALEAH (2D: Historic racetrack site) — The Hialeah Park Race Track (also known as the Miami Jockey Club or Hialeah Race Track or Hialeah Park) is a historic site in Hialeah, Florida. It is located at East 4th Avenue. On March 5, 1979, it was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. Another listing for it was added in 1988. [...] The Hialeah Park Race Track is one of the oldest existing recreational facilities in southern Florida. [...] The park became so famous for its flocks of flamingos that it has been officially designated a sanctuary for the American Flamingo by the Audubon Society. [...] Hialeah Park Racetrack was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on March 2, 1979. On January 12, 1988, the property was determined eligible for designation as a National Historic Landmark by the Secretary of the Interior. Owner John Brunetti closed Hialeah Park to the public in 2001. [...] The track is scheduled to reopen on November 28, 2009.
Pretty easy breezy puzzle for a Wednesday except HOLY COW that NW corner. I have never heard of either of the long Downs. HIALEAH looked all kinds of wrong when it finally came together (every letter from a cross, absolutely no way of inferring any part of it), and ARMAGNAC (3D: Eau de vie from Gascony) looked only slightly more valid, but both held up when I hit the "DONE" key (played "Against the Clock" at the NYT site last night, which I normally don't do). That's a lot of adjoining mystery real estate for one little section of a Wednesday puzzle. Thankfully, it was the only really challenging part of the puzzle for me. The equally mysterious ARNEL (40A: Vintage synthetic fabric) held me up a bit in the middle there (though I have at least seen that answer before), I couldn't pick up the front end of HOT WAR without crosses (6D: Korean conflict, for one), and I had some reluctance accepting DITTY as an answer for 69A: "Mary Had a Little Lamb," e.g., but the NE and SW corners went down in about ten seconds a piece, and everything else came together without too much crying and gnashing of teeth. Just under 5 on a Wednesday is not half bad for me.
- 17A: Olympic track-and-field event (HAMMER throw)
- 30A: Play and film about a noted 1977 series of interviews ("FROST / Nixon")
- 36A: Loosely woven cotton fabric (CHEESE cloth) — I had some issues getting the front end of this answer, which happens to parallel the sounds-like-a-50s-waitress-name ARNEL
- 44A: Indoor dipole antenna, colloquially (RABBIT ears)
Other possibilities: SHIT head, SQUAT thrusts, BLACK magic, etc.
- 24A: Beast in an Ogden Nash poem (llama) — this damned poem gets more play in the crossword than any other except maybe "I, TOO." A bit tiresome / dated at this point (though approved — over the Scott Turow book — for cluing ONEL).
- 27A: Roasted, in Rouen (roti) — I think of this word as Indian, but had no trouble guessing it anyway.
- 54A: World of espionage (spydom) — read this as [Word of espionage] and *still* got it.
- 57A: Causes of some untimely ends (nooses) — grim. I was looking for wordplay or something here to pull it out of the execution / suicide category. But no.
- 67A: Palacio resident (rey) — Spanish for "king." Never saw it, since those Downs went down so fast down there. The only one I balked at for even a second was BOY TOY — and that's the best one of all (46D: Young stud).
- 18D: Massage deeply (rolf) — have I said this is one of the ugliest words in the English language? It is. Sounds more like a barfing sound than a massage.
- 25D: 1903-04 cars sold only in red (Model As) — woo hoo, good guess. I know nothing about old cars, but I figured those cars were So old they must be a MODEL ... something. T was later, so ... first letter of alphabet!? Yes.
- 29D: Washington Irving's Crane (Ichabod) — great answer I don't remember seeing before.
- 62D: Mauna _____ (Kea) — still holding out for the New Zealand parrot as a clue for this answer. I'm on a one-man mission to make KEA (the parrot) a common crossword clue. Vote KEA!
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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