Tommie of the Amazins — SUNDAY, Nov. 1 2009 — Leader against Aztecs / 1946 John Hersey book / Indian government 1858-1947 / Pompom holder
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: "Compound Fractures" — theme answers are fanciful words made by fusing words together than overlap by five letters, e.g. RETROSPECT + SPECTACLES = RETROSPECTACLES
Word of the Day: WADI (40A: Desert stream) — also n., pl., -dis, also -dies.
- A valley, gully, or streambed in northern Africa and southwest Asia that remains dry except during the rainy season.
- A stream that flows through such a channel.
- An oasis.
I don't understand how the word "FRACTURES" applies here, but I also don't care much: this puzzle was really entertaining. Incredibly dense with would-be portmanteau words, and very light on the "O, That's Terrible, My Eyes!"-type bad fill. Theme is remarkably consistent, and contains some words that really, really should be words. My favorites are ELEPHANTOM (he will get revenge on the poachers!), CATHARTICHOKE ("Wow, eating that purged me of strong emotional feelings!"), and PERHAPSODY!
Choppy grids are hard to blaze through, and this one was no exception. Felt normal in terms of difficulty, but skewed difficult in terms of how long it took me to do. Cluing was probably slightly tougher than usual as well. Lots of names in this one as well, though they were all names I knew. Well, OK, all except SVEN (who himself intersects two other names) (90A: Man's name meaning "young man"). That "V" in his name was one of the last letters to fall, since I did not remember the name of the poker player (82D: Poker star Phil) and for no good reason Alfred E. NEUMAN took some effort as well (61D: Mad man?). First thought for [Mad man?] was EDITOR (knew "Mad" would be magazine given the "?" clue). Did not know Bill NYE was anything but a Science Guy, but apparently he has a History of the United States (118A: "Bill _____ History of the United States" => NYE'S). Double dose of Japanese place names in the SW — HIROSHIMA over OSAKA (104A: 1946 John Hersey book + 107A: Japanese financial center). N'SYNC in the Forest of ARDEN (117A: "This I Promise You" group, 2000 + 114A: "As You Like It" setting). ROSE RED getting it on with CORTES (13D: Fairy tale sister + 35A: Leader against the Aztecs). All 3- and 4- letter fill is solid, passable, inoffensive. That's what you want. You want it to stay out of the way so the longer stuff can shine. Nice job, guys.
- 22A: Eyewear providing hindsight? (retrospectacles)
- 29A: Peanut-loving ghost? (elephantom)
- 32A: Intermittent revolutionary? (sporadical) — least favorite by a mile, since "sporadical" is just a longer form of the adjective "sporadic." New words should be NEW WORDS, not longer forms of one of the words involved in the fusion.
- 43A: Rare mushroom? (psychedelicacy) — Go Ask Alice.
- 56A: Give up smuggled goods? (contrabandon) — doesn't trip off the tongue. This clue should have a tried figuring "abandon" as a noun meaning "complete surrender of inhibitions"
- 71A: High-school athletic star at a casino? (rouletterman)
- 81A: Noble Les Paul? (guitaristocrat)
- 99A: Maybe music? (perhapsody)
- 101A: Dreams that don't die? (foreveries)
- 108A: Bug that never takes a ride? (centipedestrian)
- 21D: Like online medical advice for kids? (Wikipediatric)
- 44D: Vegetable that gives you an emotional release? (cathartichoke)
- 5A: Quilt filler (batt) — I had DOWN! ugh.
- 26A: Game in which a player may be schneidered (skat) — that does NOT sound pleasant. I'll pass.
- 34A: "_____ Can Cook" (onetime PBS show)
- 69A: 1989 Madonna hit ("Oh Father") — whoa, back catalogue!
- 75D: Indian government of 1858-1947 (Raj) — some day my brain will just instinctively know the difference between RAJ and HADJ.
- 5D: What "two" meant, historically (by sea) — holy crap this gave me fits. The "BY-" part had me thinking Latin root, like BI- ("two").
- 23D: Pompom holder (tam) — the idea of cheerleading Scotsmen amuses me.
- 31D: Swimmer Diana (Nyad) — that name is too good to be true for a swimmer.
- 46D: "Lux et Veritas" collegian (Yalie) — YALE is by far the most crossworded University of them all (ELI, ELIHU, BOOLA, etc.). Suck it, Harvard. CANTAB just isn't terribly grid-friendly.
- 58D: Source of a "giant sucking sound," according to Ross Perot (NAFTA) — CLINTON didn't fit [rim shot!] (substitute BUSH in that last joke if you wish).
- 80D: "Happy Days" role (Ralph) — man did I run through the cast ... MRS C., RICHIE, JOANIE, ARNOLD, POTSY ... the single most important TV show in my life when I was 7.
- 86D: Tommie of the Amazins (Agee) — NOT on my radar! But I somehow remembered his name from some previous crossword. O man, thought "Tommy and the Amazins" must be a band, but no. The "Amazins" are the "Amazin' Mets" of 1969. Never seen "Amazins" standing alone like that.
- 93D: Hunt's "Mad About You" co-star (Reiser) — Binghamton University alumnus.
- 105D: 97.5% of a penny (zinc) — me: "what kind of @#$!d up monetary unit is that!?"
And now, in honor of 20A: Post a modern status update (tweet) — your Tweets of the Week: puzzle chatter from the Twitterverse:
- Fuzzmuppet I would like a crossword puzzle and a cigarette.
- MikieBuzz crossword puzzles make me horny
- CantBeatAirman @rexparker they have the LA Times puzzle in the school paper, picked it up today, consecutive acrosses "ATEAM" and "AONE," put it down
- DrBananiDani @misterharrod: Hey Mr. Harrod I was wondering when our crossword was due, I wasn't here when we turned it in. Can I turn it in on Monday?
- natalial Just got to write exeunt in a crossword. Probably my third favorite word
- courtside Some of us do the NYT crossword at night, Keith Olbermann!! You asshole. In general, not just for spoiling my crossword.
- matthewcavazos The NY Times crossword is an "at" sign! How clever.
- BoobsRadley I was drunk & half nude in public around 2pm. I'm sober & doing the crossword at 2am. I'm the Benjamin Button of alcoholism.
Oh yeah, and if you haven't done it yet, Fall Back (where applicable)
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]