Old time actress Talbot Nita / MON 4-5-10 / Boast of some shampoos / Muscat's land / Grueling grilling
Monday, April 5, 2010
Alta is a ski area located in the Wasatch Mountains, just east of Salt Lake City, Utah. With a skiable area of 2200 acres (8.9 km²), beginning at a base elevation of 8530 ft (2600 m) and rising to 10,550 ft (3216 m) for a vertical gain of 2020 ft (616 m). Alta is one of the oldest ski resorts in the country, opening its first lift in 1939. It has an average annual snowfall of 514 inches (1,306 cm). Alta is one of three remaining ski resorts in America that prohibits snowboarders, along with nearby competitor Deer Valley and Vermont's Mad River Glen. // Alta is one of the oldest ski areas in the U.S. and is one of just a few ski areas in America that limit access to skiers (snowboarders are not allowed). It is best known for the ash-light quality of its snow, commonly referred to as "powder" snow. Located at the head of Little Cottonwood Canyon barely 30 miles from the Great Salt Lake, Alta resides in a unique micro climate characterized by high volume, low moisture snowfalls. Typical annual snowfall totals exceed 500 inches (1270 cm).
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After LOWPH (3D: Boast of some shampoos), I pretty much tuned out. This one is a dud from stem to stern, with a tired theme that feels like it's been done a million times, even if it hasn't. Not imaginative at all. Except for DOOM AND GLOOM, the theme answers are mostly lifeless. I wonder how long the list of viable theme answers is — SHAKE AND BAKE ... MEET AND GREET ... SLICE AND DICE ... I don't know that the most interesting possibilities are even in the grid. Not much that is substantial or compelling today. A real "I don't care" attitude in the non-theme fill. I mean, OMAN *and* ORAN? Come on. It's like you're not even trying. Even the longish answers in the NE and SW are just OK. The whole thing simply did not feel up to the standards of an NYT puzzle, honestly. Also, it played more like a Tuesday than a Monday, but that's more observation than complaint. I think I INSIST (4D: "No use arguing with me") is probably the most noteworthy (and likable) thing here. Never seen it before (that I can remember). Weird double-I to start. Weirder — the puzzle has two double-I answers; see also SHIITE (24A: Marjority Muslim in Iran). Odd. Curious. But not enough to rescue the puzzle from Dullsville.
- 17A: Campus/off-campus community, collectively (TOWN AND GOWN)
- 27A: Confederate flag (STARS AND BARS) — yay, Confederacy. Gotta love the treasonous flag of slave owners. Happy Monday!
- 46A: Extreme pessimism (GLOOM AND DOOM)
- 61A: Damage from ordinary use (WEAR AND TEAR)
- 1A: Going for broke, as a poker player (ALL IN) — my first answer. When I tried to confirm the Downs, I got wanted VAIL for ALTA, AXELS for LOOPS (2D: Figure skating figures), nothing for LOWPH, nothing for I INSIST, and NEA for NEA (5D: PBS funder).
- 57D: Grueling grilling (ORAL) — none of the ones I've seen (and taken) were "grueling." "Challenging," maybe, but the committee is generally on your side. They're not trying to break you. You're not tied to a chair. It's not (exactly) a hazing ritual.
- 14A: Sarge's superior (LOOIE) — when you need four consecutive vowels, I guess this is the answer you go to.
- 37A: John Lennon's lady (YOKO ONO) — his "lady?" You know, he wrote a song about her. It was not called "Lady." "Lady" is Kenny Rogers. "Woman" is John Lennon. Maybe you meant "old lady?" but I hope not.
- 44A: Hat for a military specialist (BERET) — strangely, also [Hat for a beatnik].
- 62D: "The Book of ___" (2010 film) (ELI) — Never saw the clue, which is good, as I don't remember this film at all. Now that I look it up, I did see ads. Clearly I didn't see it, but clearly someone did, as it has somehow grossed $94M.
- 18D: Old-time actress Talbot or Naldi (NITA) — "Talbot?" She brings nothing to the party. If you don't know Naldi, you sure aren't going to know the far less famous Talbot. Also, ridiculous to call them both "old-time" when one (Naldi, b. 1895) was a star of silents and the other (Talbot, b. 1930) is still living and had the peak of her career in the '60s-'80s.
- 60A: Lincoln, the Rail-Splitter (ABE) — Good thing you had "the Rail-Splitter" in there. I might have confused him with ABE, the Body-Builder, ABE, the Bank Teller, or ABE, the Vigoda.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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