Ex-Runaways guitarist Ford / WED 3-10-10 / * d'amore instrument / Penguin's hangout / Terrier in whodunits / Selena portrayer familiarly
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Constructor: Gary Steinmehl
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: WITHIN COST (55A: Reasonably priced ... or a hint to 17-, 19-, 26-, 34-, 42- and 51-Across) — six theme answers all begin with CO- and end with -ST, thus putting the rest of their letters literally "WITHIN COST"
Word of the Day: GESSO (13D: Painter's undercoat) —
Gesso (Italian pronunciation: [ˈdʒɛsːo]) is the Italian word for "chalk" (from the Latin gypsum from the Greek γύψος), and is a powdered form of the mineral calcium carbonate used in art. Gesso was traditionally mixed with animal glue, usually rabbit-skin glue, to use as an absorbent primer coat for panel painting with tempera paints. It is a permanent and brilliant white substrate, as long as it is used on wood or masonite. This mixture is rather brittle and susceptible to cracking, thus making it unsuitable for priming canvas. In Geology, Italian "Gesso" corresponds to the English "Gypsum", as it is a calcium sulphate compound (CaSO4·2H2O). (wikipedia)
Quick write-up today, as I have to go receive an award for ... well, for merely staying put for ten years with the same employer, but hey, hardware is hardware. Actually, I think I'm getting a tote bag or an umbrella or something. Who knows? What I know is that the ceremony is at 8 (^&@!ing) 30 in the morning. So, moving right along...
Very jarring to go from my slowest Tuesday of the year to my fastest Wednesday of the year. I filled this one in with almost no hesitation. I think this must be my fastest time ever for a puzzle whose Main Theme Answer Was Unfamiliar To Me. I mean, I can infer what "WITHIN COST" means, but it's not a phrase I hear often (ever). "Under budget" I've heard. "WITHIN COST" kind of sort of rings a bell, but I just had to piece it together. From where I sat, it could have been [anything] COST. In fact, that tiny piece of real estate in the far SW took me longer than any other section, by a long shot (still not that long). Wasn't *positive* about NUNCA (49D: Never, in Nogales), and so was missing the "N," and the little answers in the SW were clued unobviously (except for IBM — 56D: Big Blue — which is how I began unraveling it). If I've seen OBOE d'amore (instrument) before, I've forgotten. I wanted VIE for WOO (55D: Try to win) (note: VIE would need "for" to be an appropriate answer). And TOG (57D: Dress (up))... well, the less said about that, the better.
I am impressed by the theme density, and the quality of some of the theme answers, but not so much by the theme itself. The only thing "WITHIN COST" in these answers is a bunch of gibberish. UNTAGAIN! ASTTOCOA! Also, the grid was a bit ... dull. Here's a weird fact: this grid has 25 "O"s, but only 21 "E"s. "O"s on every line but the top one. Even if you discount all the "O"s necessitated by the theme ... that's a lot of "O"s.
- 17A: Key building support (CORNER POST) — had a tiny bit of trouble here with "CORNER." Could think only of NEWEL at first. Then wrote in CENTER ...
- 19A: Across the entire United States (COAST TO COAST)
- 26A: Unable to run (COLOR FAST)
- 34A: Boomerang, in a way (COME HOME TO ROOST)
- 42A: Publisher of The New Yorker (CONDE NAST)
- 51A: Be disadvantageous to (COUNT AGAINST)
- 15A: Bone connected to the supinator muscle (ULNA) — crosswordese gets dressed up in fancy-clothes
- 58A: Ex-Runaways guitarist Ford (LITA) — Knew this was LITA before I ever saw the clue, but boy was I glad to see the clue. Best clue of the day. "Runaways" movie comes out soon, featuring ... Dakota Fanning (as you've never seen her before ...). It's not getting good reviews, but I think I might have to see it anyway:
- 63A: Name registered at many an escort service (ALIAS) — well that's a depressing clue. Student of mine gave me the complete run of Brian Michael Bendis's comic "ALIAS" to read recently. Just started, and it's fantastic.
- 1D: Drug for a poisoning victim (IPECAC) — Vomit! Enjoy your breakfast.
- 6D: Chicago exchange, for short (MERC) — short for "Mercantile Exchange." I've only seen MERC with a car clue before. Interesting.
- 9D: Selena portrayer, familiarly (J-LO) — Her very name already reads as totally dated to me. I suspect she's never going anywhere, grid-wise.
- 18D: String after Q (RST) — :(
- 27D: Penguin's hangout (FLOE) — I did not know this. I got it easily, but ... all the penguins I've seen have been in water or on land. Even in "March of the Penguins." Oh, wait. There's this:
- 43D: Simon and Diamond (NEILS) — you can't give me NEIL Diamond and not expect me to play something.
- 46A: Tennessee gridders (TITANS) — "Gridders" : football :: "Cagers" : basketball
- 53A: Terrier in whodunits (ASTA) — Remember that time that ASTA came running up with the ULNA in his mouth!? A clue! Good boy!
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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