Eponymous engineer / SUN 3-28-10 / Follower of Christopher or Carolina / Six-time baseball All-Star Rusty / World capital 12,000 feet / Eggy quaff
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Constructor: Ed Sessa
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: "WHAT MAKES IT ITCH?" — a puzzle, which is somehow not about dandruff, athlete's foot, or other, less speakable malady. "-CH" is added to the ends of words in familiar phrases, creating wacky phrases, clued "?"-style.
Word of the Day: TERNE (46A: Lead and tin alloy) —
Terne is an alloy coating of lead and tin used to cover steel, in the ratio of 20% tin and 80% lead. // Terne is used to coat sheet steel to inhibit corrosion. It is the one of the cheapest alloys suitable for this, and the tin content is kept at a minimum while still adhering to a hot-dipped iron sheet, to minimize the cost. (wikipedia)
An easyish, non-OGREISH puzzle (84D: Beastly), with hardly any sticking points. Simple idea, nicely executed. Very undemanding grid (just seven theme answers) allows for a generally interesting and mostly smooth overall quality to the grid. I noticed an error when checking over my grid. I had ENURE for 66A: Get used (to), which is *a* correct answer to the clue (that exact clue has been used for ENURE before). Sadly, the stupid [Old Japanese coin] is a RIN, not a REN, and so, today, INURE was the correct way to go. And here I thought someone had found an interesting new clue for that damned animated dog. No. Hey, REN is a dog. And the most common clue for RIN — RIN Tin Tin — is a dog. Interesting. Ish. Also, if you replace the "U" in "ENURE" with a "T" and then anagram it, you get the one word (besides RIN) I had *no* clue about today: TERNE. I know TERN as a shorebird common to North American crossword grids. As an alloy: new to me. Coincidentally, the non-bird TERNE crossed the birdy WREN (41D: Follower of Christopher or Carolina), which I also had some trouble getting. Luckily for me, SARA LEE (51A: Food giant based in Downers Grove, Ill.) and HELOISE (40D: Hint offerer) eventually helped me corral this section. They're surprisingly tough broads.
- 23A: Problem for a crane operator? (NO-WINCH SITUATION) — one small issue: "operator" in the clue when OPER. is in the grid at 19A: Phone abbr.
- 38A: Exceptional soldier on his only tour? (ONE-HITCH WONDER)
- 68A: What kind, decent people wear? (MENSCH FASHION)
- 98A: Hidden help for one who's trying to quit smoking? (PATCH ON THE BACK)
- 117A: Instruction #1 for roofers? (GET A LOAD OF THATCH) — this and PATCH... are my favorites
- 16D: Hit below the belt? (MAKE A BAD PUNCH)
- 56D: Really angry group? (HOT CROSS BUNCH)
Some enjoyable fill today. In graduate school, I studied and wrote about anti-MENDICANT (specifically, anti-fraternal) literature of the fourteenth century (it's true), so that word was an oddly nostalgic piece of cake (14D: Beggar). Other medium range fill that seemed original and interesting:
- CIGAR CASE (47A: Cuban's home?) – thought this might be a theme answer at first. Then figured CASTRO was involved somehow. Wrong and wrong.
- DESCEND ON (90A: Arrive unexpectedly en masse) — a great clue for fresh idiomatic phrase.
- NEW HIGH (88A: Wall Street landmark?) — a bit of a stretch, perhaps, but I admire this answer's moxie, so thumbs up.
- 5A: World capital at 12,000 feet (LA PAZ) — was looking for LHASA, which is at ... 11,812 feet. You can understand my confusion.
- 10A: Rugby gathering (SCRUM) — "Gathering" is a funny word for SCRUM. It's not a conference or a seminar.
- 20A: With 21-Across, native Oklahoma group (OSAGE / TRIBE) — TRIBE seemed superfluous here. I mean, OSAGE means the "TRIBE." It's not like I needed the second half of the answer to make sense of it. Why not just clue 21-Across as [20-Across, for one]?
- 62A: Motorist's no-no, for short (DUI) — first thought was "UEY," but that's only a no-no sometimes.
- 73A: Grouchy Muppet (OSCAR) — you'd be grouchy too if you were green and lived in a trash can.
- 80A: "___ Mucho," #1 hit for Jimmy Dorsey ("BESA ME") — why is this song so familiar to me? Did someone do a memorable parody of it? Here's a ska version by Elvis.
- 107A: Eggy quaff (NOG) — a trifecta of horrible words, each of them at least vaguely nauseating to me.
- 2D: Expo '74 city (SPOKANE) — I'm headed there in a little over a month — actually, I'm flying into there, and then heading over to St. Maries, ID for my grandma's 90th birthday party. It'll be a hard, fast, and (assuming all goes well) entertaining trip down memory lane. As longtime readers may know, my grandma is the first person I ever saw work a crossword.
- 5D: Keepsake on a chain (LOCKET) — wanted RABBIT'S FOOT. Then wanted TRINKET.
- 17D: Six-time baseball All-Star Rusty (STAUB) — I remember him as a thick, blond (red-headed?), power-hitting Tiger (though he played for a lot of teams). Interesting fact: in 1978 (acc. to wikipedia) "Staub became the first player to play in all 162 regular-season games exclusively as a designated hitter."
- 81D: Home of Elmendorf Air Force Base (ANCHORAGE) — this reminds me of the book I just finished: "Game Change." In that ANCHORAGE reminds me of Alaska reminds me of Palin. Wish the book had been somewhat more substantive and less gossipy, but it was Very entertaining in parts.
- @leathellin My morning plan would be working perfectly if I hadn't woken up hopeless at crosswords.
- @aobehr Love that my wife will ask for my help doing the Post crosswords, then will belittle me for knowing the answer.
- @Skinbro Watching morbidly obese, middle aged women doing crossword puzzles in a dainty fashion makes me happy.
- @timpawlenty Ask me if you need help with 51 across in today’s NY Times crossword puzzle. http://bit.ly/aHpYpJ
- @megchapin worst crossword puzzle clue ever: "will smith's music." answer: Rap. uhh... hardly
- @CEDownes it's amazing how many crossword answers I get just from 20 years of watching the Simpsons
- @jwisser "Burt's ex", as a crossword clue, immediately caused me to think "Ernie?".
- @marcschaubjr Why is "LONI" still a crossword answer and "Burt's Ex" still the clue? What decade is this?
- @aimeemann This health care bill thing has almost overshadowed my finishing the New York Times crossword puzzle.
- @ElayneBoosler Ha! I'm 99 Down in this Sunday's L.A. Times Xword puzzle. U know every1's spelling it with an "i" and it aint working out.
- @MrJoshEarl Justin Bieber starts every morning by ruining his Dads crossword by writing 'Balls' in the 5 down section #BieberFacts
- @tomwp L-O-L: Sunday NY Times crossword has the clue "Sound while jerking the head" Will Shortz you perv
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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