Lemonlike fruit / MON 2-22-10 / Parts of a bride's attire / Caesar whose forum was TV / Depressed urban area
Monday, February 22, 2010
Constructor: Steve Dobis
Relative difficulty: No idea
THEME: 28A: Parts of a bride's attire for this puzzle — theme answers start with words that can follow SOMETHING (as in the phrase "SOMETHING old, SOMETHING new, SOMETHING borrowed, SOMETHING blue") (36A: Word that can precede the starts of 18-, 20-, 53- and 58-Across)
Word of the Day: NEW CALEDONIA (20A: Island east of Australia) —
New Caledonia (French: officially: Nouvelle-Calédonie; colloquially: (la) Calédonie; popular nicknames: (la) Kanaky, (le) Caillou), is a colonial collectivity of France located in the subregion of Melanesia in the southwest Pacific. It comprises a main island (Grande Terre), the Loyalty Islands, and several smaller islands. Approximately half the size of Taiwan, it has a land area of 18,575.5 square kilometres (7,172 sq mi). The population was estimated in January 2009 to be 249,000. The capital and largest city of the territory is Nouméa. The currency is the CFP franc. // Since 1986 the United Nations Committee on Decolonization has included New Caledonia on the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories. New Caledonia is set to decide whether to remain within the French Republic or become an independent state in a referendum to be held between 2014 and 2019. // Nouméa, the capital, is also the seat of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (formerly the South Pacific Commission), an international organization. (wikipedia) [notice how "Australia" appears no where in this discussion...]
Welcome back! Wait, you guys didn't go anywhere. I was the one who was away this weekend. The tournament in Brooklyn was a lot of fun, though I did not participate. That last sentence appears to make little sense, but is true nonetheless. I was on the periphery of the tournament all weekend, seeing friends and meeting new people and turning my voice recorder on at various, occasionally inappropriate times to try to capture the wisdom, eloquence, and occasionally drunken ramblings of various constructors, editors, and solvers. While the participants were solving, I went into Manhattan for soba noodles (Saturday), or slept late (Sunday). I also got to see really good friends and their brand new baby. There wasn't nearly enough time to see or talk to everyone I would have liked to. There is a new champion, as most of you know by now: Dan Feyer, a guy who trained for his first tournament by solving every crossword I ever wrote about and reading every write-up I ever wrote. One of the first things he told me two years ago was, "I'm probably the only person besides your mother who's read every word you've ever written." And now he's the champ. The other two finalists, Anne Erdmann and Howard Barkin, would have made excellent champions as well — I don't know Anne, but I do know that she was the only woman besides Ellen Ripstein to be on the stage for the finals in the past quarter century; I do know Howard, whom I met at my very first tournament three years ago and who is possibly the nicest guy in the world of crosswords (populated almost exclusively by very nice people). Tyler Hinman was out of the running because of a tie-breaker rule (he finished the main round of 7 puzzles tied for third). This was disappointing to me and a lot of people, as we would have loved to see him defend, but he was gracious in defeat and generous in his praise for Dan and got a *huge* standing ovation when he was announced as the fourth-place finisher (and, for the last time, champion of the Juniors division). It was actually pretty moving. Everyone was excited for a new champ, but everyone still (rightly) stands in awe of Mr. Hinman's skills (and string of 5 championships in a row). Like the Terminator, he'll be back.
OK, on to this puzzle. I did it on paper, with the grid in the wrong part of the page (upper left is great if you're left-handed; I'm not). I wish I could figure out how to make Black Ink (my software) MOVED THE DAMNED GRID TO THE OTHER SIDE OF THE PAGE. If anyone has the answers, please hit me up with an email, thanks. Plus I was bus-lagged, despite not changing time zones. Anyway, I was slow, but refuse to believe it was the puzzle's fault. Grid construction is cool / odd / possibly harder to flow through because of that creamy middle that you can only access via narrow passages at E and W. Also, NEW CALEDONIA!? I've heard of it, but had no consciousness of its position vis-a-vis Australia. ALLE is not a German word I ever care to see in the puzzle again, but it was pretty inferrable (6D: It means everyone to Hans). The clue on THEME confused rather than clarified things ... for a bit. Once I hit SOMETHING, the rest of the puzzle went down fast. Bottom half is a breeze when you can put in BORROWED and BLUE without even reading the clues involved. I know I have seen variation(s) of this theme before, but not executed in this cockeyed, interesting way, with a Beatles song in the middle. Generally interesting theme answers and gigantic NW / SE corners also give this puzzle added interest. I want to say "Approved," but fear that is ©Brendan Emmett Quigley. Hell with it; I'll pay him later. Approved!
- 18A: Nickname for Andrew Jackson (OLD HICKORY)
- 20A: Island east of Australia (NEW CALEDONIA)
- 53A: Dangerous thing to be living on (BORROWED TIME)
- 58A: First prize at a fair (BLUE RIBBON)
I figured the nose picked up SCENT, not SMELL (my answer is much more natural-feeling and in-the-language ... just wrong) (50A: What the nose picks up). I tried AMIDST for AMONGST at 1D: Surrounded by, but petered out at about the fifth letter (how did it take me that long!?) when I realized it wouldn't fit. Otherwise, mostly smooth sailing.
- 39A: Smart ___ (wise guy) (ASS) — wouldn't put this in because it just seemed too crass for the NYT. Maybe this is the donkey kind of ASS, so permissible.
- 61A: Force felt on the earth, informally (ONE G) — a great piece of crosswordese that must leave many people baffled the first time they see it. "Are you sure it's not OLEG, honey?" "Yes I'm sure!"
- 4D: People's worries (CONCERNS) — OK, this I don't get. Why is "People's" in this clue. Whose worries are they gonna be? Woodchucks' worries? That part of the clue was so weird that I figured "People" must refer to the magazine, and so I considered RENEWALS.
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