Spellbound singer 1991 / THU 2-4-10 / Cousin of boubou / Unboring retailer / Stevenson's misanthrope
Thursday, February 4, 2010
Constructor: Matt Ginsberg
Relative difficulty: I don't know … Medium?
THEME: Anagrams — let's let the note explain: "The answers to the combined Across clues are anagrams of each other. The order in which the answers in each pair are to be entered in the grid is for you to discover." So seven seven-letter answers originating on the W side of the grid are followed immediately by their anagrams terminating on the E side of the grid.
Word of the Day: Boubou ([52D: Cousin of a boubou] => CAFTAN) —
The Grand Boubou/Bubu is one of the names for a flowing wide sleeved robe worn by men in much of West Africa, and to a lesser extent in North Africa, related to the Dashiki suit. It is known by various names, depending on the ethnic group wearing them: Agbada (Yoruba, Dagomba), Babban Riga (Hausa), K'sa (Tuareg) Grand Boubou (in various Francophone West African countries) and the English term of Gown. The Senegalese Boubou, a variation on the Grand Boubou described below, is also known as the Senegalese kaftan. The female version worn in some communities is also known as a M'boubou or Kaftan. (wikipedia)
This was easyish once I figured out what the heck was going on, but the figuring out was no mean feat, given that a. the instructions are (perhaps necessarily) convoluted, and b. the instructions were not fully legible in the AcrossLite version (actually, I use Black Ink software, so maybe the AcrossLite experience was different). I had an email alerting me to this legibility issue, which I decided to read only after I opened the .puz file and realized I had no idea what I was dealing with. I think I was stumbling on the word "combined" in the Note for some reason. I thought "combining" was some act I was going to have to perform; instead, it was just a description of how the theme clues were already laid out. Anyway, once I realized it was all a simple anagram trick, the puzzle went down pretty quickly, though I have to say that with all the fiddliness of the Note and the See-this, See-that nature of the theme clues, I kind of lost interest before I'd even really begun. This is a technically interesting and impressive puzzle, but not the most entertaining solve. I do admire the construction, and the overall solidity of the fill.
- 1A: With 8-Across, World records? * Natural seasoning (sea salt / atlases)
- 15A: With 16-Across, Division division * Cut (abridge / brigade)
- 17A: With 18-Across, Was sorrowful * Separate (grieved / diverge)
- 41A: With 43-Across, Coagulate * Galley (thicken / kitchen)
- 67A: With 69-Across, Longtime Penn State head coach * Versatile (protean / Paterno)
- 71A: With 72-Across, Moderate tempo * Done (andante / at an end)
- 73A: With 74-Across, Like St. Petersburg in 1914, 1924 and 1991 * Drift (meander / renamed)
- 48A: Stevenson's misanthrope (Hyde) — Mr. HYDE. An important work, if only because it served as the basis for this:
- 51A: Tailor's chalk, typically (talc) — if you say so. I figured it was just ... chalk.
- 8D: "Spellbound" singer, 1991 (Abdul) — as in Paula. Replaced on this season of "American Idol" by Ellen DeGeneres. Here's some vintage, epic, loony, theatrical, vintage (early 90s) Paula — in concert! She stole Madonna's Blonde Ambition hair. There are men on stilts. I ... don't know what else to say ...
- 33D: Antiknock additive (ethyl) — I always have to guess at chemicals. I've seen "ETH-" before, and "-YL," and ETHYL sounds like something, so sure, why not?
- 39D: Unböring retailer (Ikea) — between the umlaut and the "retailer" and the four-letter length, this was a gimme.
- 50D: Vintner's asset (palate) — wanted NOSE or something like it.
- 58D: Hormel canned it in 1937; Congress in 2003 (S/spam) — the first is meat and the second is unwanted email, right? So ... I don't like the clue, if only for grammatical reasons: the referent for "it" should be constant. I mean, it's cute(sy), and I get it, but yuck.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]
P.S. here, for your enjoyment, is (quite possibly) the APEX of (bad) political advertising:
Here's what I wrote to a friend who asked (IDLY) about this ad, "WTF?"
Just saw this a couple minutes ago. So ... the people of CA are ... sheep? And Tom Campbell ... well, let's see. He used to be a sheep, but then he got caught on one of those meadow pedestals and when he fell back to earth he was a guy, but he still wanted to have sex with sheep, I think, so he made this vaguely sheep-like costume but forgot that sheep don't have glowing red eyes unless they are really drunk or possessed by demons, so Carly whoever, who won't show her face because staring at it would be like staring at the face of God — awesome but blinding —she noticed Tom "Fake Sheep" Campbell and is now telling the other sheep all about it. I could be wrong.