Playable character Guitar Hero III / SUN 2-21-10 / Robert Ripley's specialty / Emulates rhabdomantist / Science duplicating nature
Sunday, February 21, 2010
Constructor: Eric "Horse's Ass" Berlin
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: "Words from the White House — word strings that sound like the names of UNITED STATES PRESIDENTs (9D: What you'll get if you read aloud 23-, 44-, 67-, 86- or 113-Across)
Word of the Day: LAWRENCE Summers (99A: Obama economic adviser Summers) —
Lawrence Henry Summers (born November 30, 1954) is an American economist and the Director of the White House's National Economic Council for President Barack Obama. Summers is the Charles W. Eliot University Professor at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. He is the 1993 recipient of the John Bates Clark Medal for his work in several fields of economics and was Secretary of the Treasury for the last year and a half of the Clinton Administration.
Rex Parker here, coming to you live from the lounge adjacent to the bar at the Marriott Brooklyn Bridge. The first day of competition at this year's American Crossword Puzzle Tournament is now over — I didn't compete and have no idea what the rankings look like, though you can check them out on-line.
[Hours pass as people come into the bar and talk to me and generally prevent me from being productive ...]
Now I'm back in my room and my wife's asleep so I'm trying to type as quietly as I can, and probably not succeeding. I liked this puzzle a lot. Theme was goofy, but in a way that made it fun to uncover. On the whole, a supremely easy puzzle. No sticking points at all except the theme answers — no, the answers themselves weren't hard, but figuring out which presidents they were supposed to sound like was, at least initially, rough. Part of the reason I like the theme is that the aural resemblance between answers and presidents is soooo tenuous at times. Answers felt like Frankenstein's monsters, unnatural patchworks that resembled human beings only be significant feats of imagination. The rest of the grid was fine — good, actually. Only one painful part — where ENISLE (94A: Strand) meets ALERS (91D: Yanks and others). Otherwise, dandy. Please note the awesomeness of non-Star-Wars OBI (81A: Japanese tie) crossing Star Wars KENOBI (63D: Skywalker's friend). If crosswordese (in this case, OBI) wants to show up to the puzzle, then you should damn well make it earn its keep.
- 23A: Anatomical pouch / Run on TV / Consume / Feel sick / Oral history (sac air eat ail lore => ZACHARY TAYLOR)
- 44A: Christmas season / Greet a villain / Speak aloud / Query / Monthly payment (Yule hiss say ask rent => ULYSSES S. GRANT)
- 67A: Least smart / Kitchen worker / Towel word / ___ Fein (dumbest chef hers Sinn => THOMAS JEFFERSON)
- 86A: Trash / Victories / "Get it?" / Do some math / Runs smoothly (junk wins see add hums => JOHN QUINCY ADAMS)
- 113A: Most shaggy / Hotel offering / Actress Goldie (hairiest room Hawn => HARRY S. TRUMAN)
- 20A: Its national anthem is "La Dessalinienne" (Haiti) — French anthem, but answer is not FRANCE. Easy.
- 27A: Appropriately named monthly of the National Puzzler's League, with "The" ("Enigma") — little insider reference for many of the puzzle dorks at the tourney this weekend. I don't belong to the League, but you don't need to to be able to infer this one.
- 26A: "Big Love" setting (Utah) — cannot work up any desire to see this show.
- 29A: Mamet play revived on Broadway in 2009 ("Oleanna") — I find most shows about academia unwatchable. Too much caricature, too inaccurate in one way or another. Best college movie ever? "Real Genius" with Val Kilmer (1986). No weighty issues like sexual harassment. Just ... Val Kilmer, unwittingly making a weapon for the government while wise-cracking and skirt-chasing all over the Pomona College campus. Good times.
- 36A: Robert Ripley's specialty (oddities) — as opposed to Tom Ripley's specialties: stalking, murdering, and identity theft.
- 41D: Science of duplicating nature (bionics) — good clue; answer was unexpected. Thought genetics might be involved somehow.
- 59D: Holder of the alphabet (Ouija) — Great clue, though I would have thought "board" would have to follow "OUIJA" here...
- 77D: Emulates rhabdomantist (dowses) — "rhabdos" = "rod, twig, stick"
- 92D: Playable character in Guitar Hero III (Slash) — onetime Guns 'N' Roses guitarist.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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