Champagne Tony of golf / TUE 2-23-10 / Camera openings / Salsa singer Cruz / Sainted 11th-century pope
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Constructor: Joanne Sullivan
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: LANDFORMS (68A: Geographical features ... or what the circled squares in this puzzle represent) — circled squares spell out — and visually represent — various LANDFORMS
Word of the Day: Tony LEMA (53D: Champagne Tony of golf) —
Anthony David "Champagne Tony" Lema (February 25, 1934 – July 24, 1966) was an American professional golfer, who rose to fame in the beginning of golf's modern era, but had his young life and career cut short in an aircraft accident. // On the eve of his victory in October 1962 at the Orange County Open Invitational in Costa Mesa, California, Lema joked he would serve champagne to the press if he won the next day. From then on he was known as Champagne Tony, and his handsome looks, and vivacious personality added to the legend, such that Johnny Miller has stated that at the time of his death in 1966, Lema was second only to Arnold Palmer in fan popularity. (wikipedia)
I spent much of the day constructing, so my eyes are tired of staring at grids. I was ripe for puzzle grumpiness — if I'd spent hours trying to polish my grid, and then had to face a published puzzle with subpar swill in it ... well, I wouldn't have been happy. Then I opened the Tuesday puzzle, and my eyes glazed over at the sight of circles splattered in apparent haphazard fashion across the grid. Resolving not to prejudge, I started in. Fast at first, and then a bit slower as I worked clockwise from NW into the NE and E. GLACÉ gave me real trouble (36A: Candied, as fruits), and I mysteriously blanked on Mrs. Arnold Schwarzenegger, despite knowing exactly who she is and being able to picture her clearly (MARIA). Rounded the corner, into the SE via a great guess at CELIA (51A: Salsa singer Cruz). Botched 61A: References at first by dropping in ALLUSIONS, but fixed it when none of the Downs east of UND would work. Only then did I notice the theme-revealing: LANDFORMS. Only then did I look up and see what the circles were doing — forming the shapes of and spelling out various LANDFORMS. I used knowledge of the theme to put in MOUNTAIN in the S/SW, and ended my geographical journey at the MESA (mysteriously positioned in the Bay Area of the puzzle). Having finished in a slightly slower than normal time, I checked out the completed grid ... and I have to say, I really, really like it. Easily my favorite Tuesday puzzle of the year. I know, Tuesdays frequently suck and so being the best Tuesday sounds a bit like being ... like ... like Anthony Michael Hall's character (Brian? The Geek? Farmer Ted?) in "Sixteen Candles, who calls himself "King of the Dipshits." He's like ... the leader of the social outcasts. Anyway ... he ends up being very likable. And this puzzle is very likable. I'd be surprised if it didn't turn out to be one of the most imaginative and well executed Tuesdays of the year.
I think I was slightly slower than usual for several reasons. First, the circles. They're distracting and have me wondering, in the back of my mind, WTF? Second, the occasional odd fill.I've heard of MESS HALLS but had to infer MESS CALLS (34A: "Come and get it" signals in the Army). Is that "signal" a bell? Is MESS not at a regularly scheduled time? Front end of that answer is in the yuckiest part of the grid, around the area of ET ALIAE (ay ay ay!) (26A: And other women: Lat.). No idea what a PALP is, though I assume it has something to do with PALPating (2D: Sensory appendage). Yes, freedictionary.com says PALP = "An elongated, often segmented appendage usually found near the mouth in invertebrate organisms such as mollusks, crustaceans, and insects, the functions of which include sensation, locomotion, and feeding." Biggest snag, however, was 53D: Champagne Tony of golf (LEMA). Before my time, and not seen in the NYT puzzle in 12 years (!?). Appropriate that he abuts OOPS (54D: "Well, that was stupid of me!"), as I dropped the ball here for a bit.
- 31A: Grappling site (mat) — I'm sure this answer has at least one of my faithful readers all hot and bothered (the same one who was wearing an "Iowa Wrestling" T-shirt on the last day of the tournament)
- 38A: Org. that approves trailers (MPAA) — remember that seven-part review of "Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace" I showed a while back. Well, here's a *trailer* (HA ha) for the review of "Episode II: Attack of the Clones":
- 52A: Song whose title is repeated before and after "gentille" in its first line ("Alouette) — I used to think "gentille" was "jaunty"
- 21D: Tint (dye) — tried HUE at first
- 22D: Trader ___ (restaurant eponym) (Vic) — always reminds me of "Werewolves of London"
- 30D: Brideshead, for one (estate) — aargh. Held me up badly, as my Evelyn Waugh knowledge completely failed me.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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