Sweet frozen treat — THURSDAY, Dec. 17 2009 — Subject of Hoffman's Potion / Locale in Carlo Levi best seller / Allen and * old comedy duo
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Constructors: Francis Heaney and Patrick Blindauer
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: NOAH'S ARK (21A: Craft that's the subject of this puzzle) — six different animals appear TWO BY TWO (51A: How the passengers went in 21-Across) in the grid, i.e. SEAL next to SEAL, CAT next to CAT, etc., with each ANIMAL (54A: Brute) trying to escape an ALL OUT (19A: No holds barred) FLOOD (31D: Reason for 21-Across)
Word of the Day: ADÉLIE (63A: Penguin from Antarctica) — The Adélie Penguin, Pygoscelis adeliae, is a species of penguin common along the entire Antarctic coast and its nearby islands. They are among the most southerly distributed of all seabirds, along with the Emperor Penguin, South Polar Skua, Wilson's Storm Petrel, Snow Petrel, and Antarctic Petrel. In 1830, French explorer Jules Dumont d'Urville named them to for his wife, Adélie. (wikipedia) [sadly, it appears the ADÉLIE was not allowed on board the ARK. He will be missed]
What a weird, fun puzzle! I knew what the theme was going to be before I ever made it out of that tiny piece of real estate in the NW ("SEAL next SEAL ... pairs of animals ... NOAH'S ARK"), but the puzzle still held many surprises and was plenty tough for me, if only because of that damned OTTER POP (22D: Sweet frozen treat). When I was done I looked OTTER POP up online and instantly recognized them from my childhood, but I can't say that I've seen or even heard about OTTER POPs since the early 80s. I had the far scarier / less appetizing OTTER PIE there at first. If Eskimos can have pies, why not OTTERs? Actually, I had OTTERPYE, figuring the nickname of the mystery astronaut was GORDY (bec. GORDY Howe would have been too easy?). Then I changed it to GORDI (!?!?!). Finally had put in PBA, which I'd suspected was right all along, at 49A: Group of pin-heads?: Abbr., which changed PYE/PIE to POP, and I just knew that was the right answer. GORDO! (45A: Mercury and Gemini astronaut, informally). It means fat! Rest of the grid was far easier to navigate than OTTER POP valley.
- 14A: Hipster (CAT)
- 17A: Tractor make, briefly (CAT)
- 38A: Spicy sauce (MOLE)
- 41A: Marilyn's mark (MOLE)
- 60A: Frank (DOG)
- 64A: Follow relentlessly (DOG)
- 65A: Viking foe? (LION)
- 68A: Louis VIII nickname, with "the" (LION)
- 2D: It makes an impression (SEAL)
- 3D: Navy commando (SEAL)
- 33D: Basketball shooting game (HORSE)
- 34D: Gymnast's equipment (HORSE)
Obviously forcing identical words alongside one another Really ties your hands when it comes to filling the grid, and considering that restriction, I think things look really good. Only the east, with its crosswordesey mash-up of I, TOO, LIRR, and ILLE, gave me any pause at all. Favorite answers of the day are GAY LIT (45D: Works stocked by a bookstore with a rainbow flag) and SCOTTIE (39D: Certain terrier) — the latter primarily because it appears in the same grid as James DOOHAN (8D: James of "Star Trek"), who played SCOTTY on "Star Trek." Completely forgot that DOCTOROW wrote "Billy Bathgate" (24D: "Billy Bathgate" novelist, 1989) — kept wanting John Irving to fit. Also totally forgot that SOON-YI was a Previn (15A: A Previn). Had that terminal "I" and thought "Did Andre have a brother named ... ALEXEI?"
- 61D: "That's gotta hurt!" ("Ooh!") — if you're gonna have "AHH" (32A: Physical sound), then by all means, throw "OOH" in there as well.
- 5A: "What Do You Do With ___ in English?" ("Avenue Q" song) ("A B.A.") — about the best way ABA will ever be clued, though I wouldn't look for it to take over primary cluing duties from the American Bar Association any time soon.
- 23A: Subject of "Hofmann's Potion" (LSD) — made an educated guess here. Never heard of this. Also never heard of CLEM Haskins (36A: _____ Haskins, 1960s-'70s N.B.A. player) or Allen and ROSSI (9D: Allen and ___, old comedy duo), though the latter feels like a name I've said I don't know before.
- 59A: Paris's Rue de ___ (Rivoli) — Only barely familiar to me. Sounds Italian.
- 4D: ___ City Hall, Nobel ceremony locale (Oslo) — I like that a lot of the crosswordese in this puzzle was giving odd or interesting or unusual cluing. See also the cluing of I, TOO as a piece of verse, and not just the poem title at 37A: "___, sing America": Langston Hughes.
Finally, please allow me to direct you to a bonus puzzle, constructed by me and one of today's NYT constructors, Patrick Blindauer, in honor of a certain television show that turns 20 today. Click on "Print," below, or go here, to Amy Reynaldo's crosswordfiend.com forum, and download a .puz / AcrossLite version of the puzzle. You can comment on the puzzle (and find a link to the solution) here. Thanks so much.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]
20 Years of Detention