SUNDAY, Nov. 29 2009 — Tamerlane dramatist Nicholas / TV character often seen in Metallica t-shirt / Old alpaca wool gatherer
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Constructor: Will Nediger
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: "Cued Up" — familiar phrases have "QU" added, creating wacky phrases, which are clued "?"-style
Word of the Day: Nicholas ROWE (34A: "Tamerlane" dramatist Nicholas) — Nicholas Rowe (20 June 1674 – 6 December 1718), English dramatist, poet and miscellaneous writer, was appointed Poet Laureate in 1715 (he succeeded Nahum Tate as poet laureate) (wikipedia) [... whoever wrote this guy's wikipedia page (or the following part, anyway) is in love with him]: "Finally, Rowe's version of Lucan's Pharsalia is one of the greatest productions in English poetry as it captures the genius and spirit of the original. Lucan's works are distinguished by a kind of dictatorial or philosophic dignity, more declamatory than poetical; full of ambitious morality and pointed sentences, comprised in vigorous and animated lines. Rowe diligently and successfully preserved this character. His versification was seldom lacking in either melody or force. The Pharsalia of Rowe deserves more notice than it obtains, and the more it is read, the more esteemed it will be." [Now that I read this again, I believe it's plagiarized from some 19c. book of literary criticism.]
CUTE puzzle. Add-a-letter puzzles live or die by the QUality of the resulting theme answers, and these are mostly wonderful. What's more, QU- theme answers mean Tons of (well, 7) "Q" crosses and only one of them is a dud (2D: OPQ). That's a damned good batting average. This one was a pleasure from beginning to end. Interesting theme answers + solid (sometimes sparkling) fill — that's entertainment.
The hardest part of the puzzle (by far) for me was the NE, hinged as it was on the most anomalous of all the theme answers: WILDE BEQUEST. None of the other answers involved both taking a word apart *and* changing the pronunciation of the word *not* adjacent to the added "QU-." I did not know the Senator from Nebraska (BEN Nelson), so I couldn't get the "B." I still have no idea why EMU is the answer to 42A: It came up from Down Under (I get that they are from Down Under, but ... "came up?" Have they arrived on our shores?). Thus even though I knew the answer involved Oscar WILDE, the phrasing of the clue (in the possessive) made me think the answer must involve WILDE'S ... something. Only I couldn't think of man's name that went S-N. Tried to get into that NW corner to no avail at first. Had SCARF for SHAWL (28A: Bit of attire for a carriage ride). Had no idea what to make of 21A: Old alpaca wool gatherer (Inca, HA ha). I think I got SEQUEL (28D: "The Dark Knight," for one) and then the "Q" made me think INQUEST. When pulling the "QU" out resulted in nothing comprehensible, I went to BEQUEST. Then VISHNU (14D: Krishna is one of his avatars). Then done.
- 22A: Delighted exclamation? (SQUEAL of approval)
- 36A: Part of an Irish playwright's will? (Wilde BEQUEST)
- 68A: Carsick passenger? (QUEASY Rider)
- 94A: Causing uneasiness? (QUALMSgiving)
- 113A: Carryin' on, in olden times? (QUAINT Misbehavin')
- 4D: Anger at losing one's flock? (shepherd's PIQUE)
- 50D: Subjugation? (VANQUISHING act)
If you are planning on doing the LAT puzzle today, you might want to read this first.
This puzzle was made easier than other add-a-letter (-or-two) puzzles by the oddness of the letter involved. Knowing there would be "Q"s in the theme answers made them easier to figure out than if I'd been hunting for an added, say, "AD" or the like. Having two theme answers as Downs means that very few words have to travel through two theme answers, which means the grid is easier to fill, which means more smooth, solid, entertaining answers, less forced crap. QUEASY RIDER is entirely isolated from other theme answer. Its crosses cross no other theme answer, which allows for central fill that did not, in fact, make me QUEASY. Nice construction.
- 54A: Impertinent sort (snip) — Was sure it was SNIT, and wondered if there'd really been 12 (!) popes named THEO (no — PIUS).
- 56A: TV character often seen in a Metallica T-shirt (Beavis) — heh heh. Fantastic clue.
- 75A: Bratislava's river (Danube) — something screwed me up a little down here ... oh yeah, I had KOREA for 60D: Sura source (Koran). That made DANUBE look like DEN-something.
- 79A: "Jour de Fete" star, director and writer, 1949 (Tati) — don't know it at all, but Jacques TATI is a crossword staple.
- 85A: New Zealand's discoverer (Tasman) — Abel was I ere I saw TASMAN. Gimme!
- 104A: Drawers, e.g. (undies) — also a gimme, though more of a lucky first guess.
- 123D: Poet who wrote "An' the Gobble-uns 'at gits you / Ef you / Don't / Watch / Out!" (Riley) — who? Oh, thiiiiis guy. Again. Indiana's own James Whitcomb RILEY. From "Little Orphant Annie":
LITTLE Orphant Annie's come to our house to stay,
An' wash the cups an' saucers up, an' brush the crumbs away,
An' shoo the chickens off the porch, an' dust the hearth, an' sweep,
An' make the fire, an' bake the bread, an' earn her board-an'-keep;
An' all us other childern, when the supper-things is done,
We set around the kitchen fire an' has the mostest fun
A-list'nin' to the witch-tales 'at Annie tells about,
An' the Gobble-uns 'at gits you
- 41D: Narrator of "How I Met Your Mother" (Bob Saget) — I don't watch sitcoms with lafftraks, so haven't seen this, but BOB SAGET is plenty familiar from the days when I may or may not have watched sitcoms with lafftraks.
- 47D: It may feature a windmill (mini-golf) — possibly my favorite answer in the puzzle. Love MINI-GOLF, and don't consider a course complete/real if it doesn't have a windmill.
- 63D: Positive thinking proponent (Peale) — Norman Vincent.
- 65D: Legal writ, in brief (cert) — one of my least favorite answers in the whole puzzle, and it's not so bad.
- 69D: Clockmaker Thomas (Seth) — eluded me. I know SETH best as a comics artist.
- 76D: German city where Beck's beer is brewed (Bremen) — mystery! If it's not EMDEN or ESSEN, I'm pretty much out of luck. BECKSVILLE?
- 110D: Baseball G.M. Minaya (Omar) — still? Last couple of season have been
colossal disappointmentsnot so great.
Now your Puzzle Tweets of the Week — puzzle chatter from the Twitterverse
- @kaylagardner Omg. My mom and her sister stayed up doing a crossword puzzle and they're now googling vietnamese currencies.
- @MichelleBasic My brother made me take in his paper. Looked through it, there was no xword puzzle, made me put it back outside.
- @fleetwoodwack Jesus, I have to clue RTE again. Shoot me.
- @GrabMoL I never felt too bad about not finishing the NY Times crossword but not finishing People's crossword?! I dumb. http://twitpic.com/rcld6
- @crosswordcoco Manu Chao, Beethoven, Ravel, and crosswords. This night is almost perfect.
- @fuckyeahitsizzy My mom caught me playing Tetris and doing crosswords and is claiming that I am just like my father. Great.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]
P.S. I have placed links to "Star Turns" (my puzzle to benefit Christina Applegate's breast cancer foundation) and "King of the Blog" (Andrea and Doug's birthday puzzle gift to me and my blog readers) in the sidebar, near the top of this page. Please check them out if you haven't already. Thank you.