Elephant rider's seat — WEDNESDAY, Dec. 30 2009 — Amtrak debut of 11/17/2000 / Strawberry Fields pilgrimage figure / Tay Lomond /
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Constructor: Adam Cohen
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: Stock ticker symbols
Word of the Day: William Van ALEN (65A: Art Deco architect William Van ___) —
William Van Alen (August 10, 1883 – May 24, 1954) was an American architect, best known as the architect in charge of designing New York City's Chrysler Building (1929-30). [...] Unfortunately, when commissioned to build the Chrysler Building, Van Alen failed to enter into a contract with Mr. Chrysler. After the building was completed, Van Alen requested payment of 6% of the building's ($14 million) budget - which was the standard fee of the time. After Chrysler refused payment, Van Alen sued him and won, eventually receiving the fee. However, the lawsuit significantly depreciated his reputation, as an employable architect. His career effectively ruined by the lawsuit, followed by the Great Depression, Van Alen focused his attention more on teaching sculpture. (wikipedia)
Ah, jet lag.
Let's see if I can get this thing up by 9am EST. (1/2 hour from now)
First, could some enterprising constructor out there please contact United Airlines' "Hemispheres" magazine and offer to write their crossword for them, because whoever is doing it now suuuuuuuuuuuux. Huge 23x23 grid, but only a handful of *randomly placed* theme answers, and the theme was ... Japan. As in ... all theme answers were in some way related to Japan. Grid had some appalling number of black squares, including highly unnecessary cheater squares aplenty. Best FAIL moment: DEW sitting directly and squarely on top of ... BEDEW. Holy cow. Solving that puzzle was the second-most horrifying in-flight moment of my trip, right after Sky Mall's headline for G-Defy shoes: "Feel like your defying Gravity!"
This puzzle was OK, but I don't see any link among theme answers except that their ticker symbols have some cute symbolic relationship to the company they represent. What the hell is a GENENTECH? The other answers are exceedingly well known retailers, but GENENTECH sounds like the ominous corporation in a scifi thriller. Like PrimatechPaper or Massive Dynamic. Really odd to have one answer so much more obscure / different from the others. Also, three Woody Allen clues? I get it, you're a fan, but yeesh. All in the N / NW, so I thought that was the theme at first. Two partial names I didn't know — 57D: Explorer Cabeza de VACA and 65A: Art Deco architect William Van ALEN — and one partial name I did — 16A: SAXE-Coburg-Gotha (old British royal house). How many more fill-in-the-blank names can there be? Answer: four. Wallace SHAWN (18A: Wallace ___ of "Manhattan"), Rubina ALI (52A: Rubina ___ of "Slumdog Millionaire"), CHAKA Khan (29D: Grammy winner ___ Khan), and MYRA (36D: Vidal's "___ Breckinridge"). That's a lot.
- 20A: Company with the stock ticker symbol BKS (Barnes & Noble)
- 25A: Company with the stock ticker symbol DNA (Genentech)
- 39A: Company with the stock ticker symbol ZZ (Sealy)
- 48A: Company with the stock ticker symbol PZZA (Papa John's)
- 53A: Company with the stock ticker symbol HOG (Harley Davidson)
Watched an episode of "Nova" last night about DNA research and evolution, and while no one mentioned GENENTECH, one segment did feature a series of cheek SWABs used to collect DNA from different people in the lab, so that answer was oddly timely for me (1D: DNA collector, perhaps). Also timely was MYRA Breckinridge, as it appears my (entire) family will be vacationing there (Breckinridge, CO) when next we vacation (summer?). What else ... oh, the long Downs are nice, esp. EFFRONTERY (3D: Chutzpah). I'm not sure I quite understand the clue on O'DAY (22D: Jazz singer who took her surname from pig Latin). She took her name from DOUGH? D'OH? DOUGH wasn't her real name, was it? According to wikipedia, it's from "dough," slang for money. Innnnteresting. Mom just got me a CD of hers and I like it a lot. She had serious drug problems but lived a long life and was still working when she died in 2006.
- 5A: Tay and Lomond (lochs) — first thought: "Who are they?"
- 23A: Strawberry Fields pilgrimage figure (Ono) — new (to me) clue. Interesting.
- 61A: Amtrak debut of 11/17/2000 (Acela) — a northeast thing. Learned it from xwords. Saw ads for it in Dulles, which may be the first time I've seen ACELA outside xwords.
- 8D: Elephant rider's seat (howdah) — seen it before. Forgot it completely.
- 54A: Former Fox series set in Newport Beach ("The O.C.") — had THEOM here because I didn't know the explorer guy's name and I apparently tried to make it rhyme with Vasco de GAMA.
See you tomorrow.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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