Unfermented grape juice / SUN 1-10-10 / Turkish honchos / Epicurus Democritus philosophically / Bobbin of Oz books
Sunday, January 10, 2010
Constructor: Mel Rosen
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: "CROSS WORDS" — 9 two-word theme answers (arranged symmetrically) whose two words cross at their centers
Word of the Day: STUM (33A: Unfermented grape juice) —
# (n.) Wine revived by new fermentation, reulting from the admixture of must.
# (v. t.) To renew, as wine, by mixing must with it and raising a new fermentation.
# (n.) Unfermented grape juice or wine, often used to raise fermentation in dead or vapid wines; must. (thinkexist.com)
Please don't ask me to define "must," as I just don't care.
Slightly tougher than usual, if only because of the corners — esp. the NE corner — which are quite wide open and somewhat tough to get into. I do not recognize — possibly because I am too young yet — either PARTIAL DENTURE or CALCIUM BLOCKER. Well, I've heard of the former, though I thought it was just called a "partial." The latter, new to me. Also never heard the term PRAIRIE PROVINCE, though it was highly inferrable. The NE was the real bear here, and not least because it contained an actual Bear — 14D: Chicago Bears coaching legend George (Halas). The Bear was actually the one gimme up there. The ambiguous "plate" clue on the DENTURE kept it invisible, and much of the rest of the stuff up there could have been Anything. Had PET for PAL (22D: Close one). Considered THONGS for SHADES (13A: Some beachwear). Did not quite trust ESTIMATED for 17D: In round figures — seems like "round" could be the condition of an *actual* figure. And STUM — yikes. I thought I had an error there. Completely new to me. ELANTRA managed to get me some traction up there, and slowly it all came together. I thought I was going to blaze through the puzzle at first, as I went from NW straight through the middle with no resistance; but the remaining corners held me up but good. As for quality — I don't know. I didn't find this terribly exciting. The theme is purely physical / spatial — answers have nothing inherently in common. Kind of a bust in that way. Theme answers don't involve memorable phrases or cleverness. Just meh for me, overall.
- 26A: With 4-Down, alternative to free enterprise (planned / economy)
- 24A: With 10-Down, stopover (motor / hotel) — yeah, here in America we call them "motels."
- 28A: With 16-Down, certain plate (partial / denture)
- 55A: With 45-Down, about 29 1/2 days (lunar / month) — easiest of the bunch. Flat gimme.
- 67A: With 47-Down, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta (prairie / provinces)
- 83A: With 70-Down, skilled lawyer (legal / eagle) — in the plural, a fine '80s movie starring Robert Redford and Debra Winger, and featuring the Rod Stewart single "Love Touch"
- 110A: With 91-Down, hypertension control option (calcium / blocker)
- 114A: With 95-Down, meteorological post (weather / station)
- 118A: With 104-Down, utility gauge (water / meter)
- 47A: President who took office in 1946 (Peron) — the puzzle knows that when you see "president," you assume "U.S." at first.
- 78A: Dulciana, for one (organ stop) — just ... a total mystery. ORGAN STOPs have names? That I'm supposed to know? OK.
- 96A: Leader of a musical "gang" (Kool) — had me thinking Jets / Sharks. Shouldn't Kool's Gang be capitalized?
- 103A: Epicurus and Democritus, philosophically (atomists) — ATOMISM is the theory that man can shrink himself to incredibly small sizes and then fight crime.
- 113A: Old car similar to a Malibu (Alero) — "Old" ... I don't know. "Bygone," sure.
- 1D: Potter professor Severus ___ (Snape) — gimme. Really surprised SNAPE doesn't appear more often, given its juicy common letters.
- 11D: Coats with a protective oxide (anodizes) — if you are going to shrink yourself to fight crime, this process is a must (not to be confused with #@%*ing STUM).
- 13D: Challenge for the wheelchair-bound (step) — this clue is odd. Seems either / or — either the step is small and you can go up / down it no problem, or it's big and someone has to help you. So not really a "challenge." Unless you mean "impediment" or "obstacle." I think I don't like how this clue is making me think of someone stuck at the base of a STEP going "WTF? Where's my damned ramp!? Little help!" Also not fond of the "-bound" part. Why not [Challenge for wheelchair user] or [... one in a wheelchair]?
- 35D: Gel made from seaweed (agar) — gimme.
- 48D: The Belvedere ___ (Vatican sculpture) (torso) — never heard of it. Looks like this:
- 62D: ___ Bobbin of the Oz books (Betsy) — again, never heard of her. I'm in the middle of Eric Shanower's marvelous adapation of "The Marvelous Land of Oz" (published by Marvel, of course) right now (two of the eight total issues have been published). His complete adaptation of "The Wizard of Oz" is in bookstores now and well worth a look.
- 74D: Tasted, biblically (ate of) — this clue reads dirty to me.
- 93D: Paul Anka or Dan Aykroyd, by birth (Ottawan) — huh. Interesting.
- 108D: Old "Tonight Show" starter ("Here's...") — like it.
- 112D: Baseball great who's Bonds's godfather (Mays) — probably should specify BARRY Bonds, as Barry's dad, Bobby Bonds, was also a great baseball player.
And now your Tweets of the Week — puzzle chatter from the Twitterverse:
- AviGeee Loss of smartphone = debilitating. Loss of constant access to nyt crossword puzzles = disabling.
- RachelImogenGW awake listening to music while mother does the times crossword. how fucking middle class is that?
- bennedeto Tom Hammond had a crossword puzzle in front of him, in the booth there. #Bengals #Jets
- Crosscan Sunday NYT Crossword may cure insomnia. I almost fell asleep in the middle of solving.
- lucyinglis This the life: bed, with a large nightcap, a small dog and the crossword. Rock. And. Roll.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]