Subject of documentary Smart Television — WEDNESDAY, Dec. 16 2009 — Partner of jeweler Van Cleef / Leggy wader / Crusading journalist Nellie
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Constructor: David J. Kahn
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: HEADs and TAILs — theme answers originating on left side of the grid have first words that can follow "HEAD" in familiar phrases, and theme answers that terminate on the right side of the grid have last words that can precede "TAIL" in familiar phrases
Word of the Day: Salomon ARPELS (31D: Partner of jeweler Van Cleef) — Van Cleef & Arpels is a French jewellery, watch, and perfume company that was founded in 1896 by Salomon Arpels and Alfred Van Cleef. They opened their first boutique in 1906 at 22 place Vendôme, Paris. Van Cleef & Arpels are renowned for their expertise in precious stones and have won particular acclaim for a groundbreaking gem-setting procedure known as the Mystery Setting. (wikipedia)
Wow, this is pretty impressive. I can't say it was the most enjoyable solve of my life, but at least some of that is due to the fact that I solve on-screen and my software doesn't allow me (easily) to see very long clues, and so with both HEAD (10D: Apt attachment to the starts of 14-, 17-, 35- and 43-Across) and TAIL (51D: Apt attachment to the ends of 30-, 37-, 59- and 62-Across), I had no clear view of the whole clue and assumed I could safely ignore it and get what I needed from crosses — it's only Wednesday, after all. Plus, I was reading "Apt" as "Apt." in the clue, and wondering what it was one could possibly attach to one's apartment. Yeesh. The one huge downside of Black Ink (solving software, which, in many ways, I love) is that the clue window can only be resized so much and you have to hover your cursor over a long clue in order to see all of it, and that action is *not* instant at all and so I rarely bother. But enough about software weaknesses. The puzzle was just Harder than normal. The clues on GARR and TOLSTOY are good examples of how the difficulty seems to have been deliberately ramped up. I could name ten Teri GARR films and never name "Dumb and Dumber." I could name ... well, two Tolstoy novels and never name "The Cossacks." I'm not faulting, just remarking. I really think this is quite an impressive puzzle — it's like two puzzles in one, and makes me never want to do another "words that can follow" / "words that can precede" puzzle again (sad, as I've got one sitting here that I finished just last night, HA ha).
- 14A: Othello, for one (BOARD game)
- 17A: Help for a pioneer (LAND grant) — went with LAND GRABS, initially. Seemed ... apt.
- 35A: Offering from the front desk (ROOM key)
- 43A: Unable to hear (STONE deaf)
- 30A: Experiment subject (guinea PIG)
- 37A: Classic Steinbeck story, with "The" ("Red PONY")
- 59A: T-shaped pullover (polo SHIRT) — didn't like clue. Can't see the "T" without hurting brain / lying to self.
- 62A: Animated TV character with buck teeth (SpongeBOB)
- 26A: Milne hopper (Roo) — why did this make me think THUMPER?
- 54A: Four-time platinum album of 2001 ("J-Lo") — looked at the answer I had here and wondered how I'd missed an album called "GLO." Some day I will learn to spell JIBE correctly (54D: Be in accord). Oh, wait, GIBE means JIBE ... Never mind. I'm doomed.
- 16A: Leggy wader (heron) — Gonna see if I can't find a pic of a different kind of leggy wader ... here we go. This lady appears to have found a shell while she was ... wading.
- 6D: Subject of the documentary "Smart Television" (Paar) — again, as with GARR and TOLSTOY, Bizarro Cluing.
- 8D: Half brother of Ivan V (Peter I) — with the Russians I just figure it'll be IVAN or PETER + some Roman numeral. I just wait it out.
- 9D: Active ingredient in marijuana: Abbr. (THC) — also the future Marijuana-inspired TV station: The High Channel. Or was it The Hemp Channel? I forget.
- 56D: Gambling venues (OTBs) — Off-Track Betting ESTBlishments (57A: Foundation abbr.)
- 58D: Crusading journalist Nellie (Bly) — such a great, old-fashioned, adventurous name. A swashbuckling name. Best known for traveling around the world in record time and pretending to be insane in order to write about a mental institution from within.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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