1942 Philippines fighting locale / THU 5-27-10 / Japanimation character with line school supplies / Bar mitzvah party staple
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Constructor: Josh Knapp
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: DOUBLE-SPACED — the compound adjective "DOUBLE-SPACED" can be found, literally double-spaced, in the fifth and eleventh columns of the grid
Word of the Day: MASADA (1A: Israeli tourist attraction on the Dead Sea) —
Masada (Hebrew מצדה, pronounced Metzada (help·info), from מצודה, metzuda, "fortress") is the name for a site of ancient palaces and fortifications in the South District of Israel on top of an isolated rock plateau, or horst, on the eastern edge of the Judean Desert overlooking the Dead Sea. After the First Jewish-Roman War a siege of the fortress by troops of the Roman Empire led to the mass suicide of the Sicarii rebels, who preferred death to surrender. (wikipedia)
Email exchange between myself and fellow blogger Amy Reynaldo at about 10:30 pm last night:
- Me: "uh ... I liked tomorrow's puz, but what exactly does the last word in 6D [i.e. LINES] refer to?"
- Amy: "I asked the same thing in my post. Which ones? Where?"
When my wife finished the puzzle, her first words were, "What am I missing?" She didn't understand what "BETWEEN THE LINES" meant either (6D: Where to look for hidden words in this puzzle's fifth and eleventh columns?). The letters in DOUBLE-SPACED are no more "BETWEEN THE LINES" than any other letters in the grid, unless by "LINES" you mean "black squares" (which are not, technically or otherwise, LINES — maybe some math person can help me out here). I really enjoyed solving the puzzle, and love the grid shape, but don't think "BETWEEN THE LINES" is a defensible, or even comprehensible, entry. Epic fail as a theme-revealer.
Good thing those (apparently) unchecked squares ended up spelling out a phrase, because otherwise I'd have been a dead man at MASADA [addendum / coincidence—just watched an episode of "The Simpsons" that I've had sitting on my DVR for months. In it, the Simpsons visit the Holy Land. Tour guide refers to MASADA almost immediately]. Now that I look at it, I know I've seen it somewhere, but I'd have had to guess at that "D." Also needed all my crosses to get BATAAN (7D: 1942 Philippines fighting locale), which, like MASADA, has a vague look of familiarity, but also looks like RATTAN and BHUTAN and BANTAM all got together for a party. Had a lot of trouble coming up with stupid WIS. (sorry, cheeseheads) (15D: Mich. neighbor). Thought I'd exhausted all the neighbors of Michigan, where I lived for eight years — IND, OHIO, ONT — but I clearly forgot about the Upper Peninsula ("The Michigan of Canada").
Thought the fill, in general, was smoking hot on this one. Huge grin at HELLO KITTY (17A: Japanimation character with a line of school supplies) — I'll let Andrea Carla Michaels tell you the details. As I understand it, she had a puzzle rejected not too many years ago, in part because it contained HELLO KITTY, which Will had never heard of. After Andrea told me that, I put HELLO KITTY in a puzzle, which was rejected by Patrick Berry (at the Chronicle of Higher Ed) for non-HELLO KITTY reasons (side note—best rejection letter ever), but before I could turn around and send it somewhere else, a puzzle with the same theme, with HELLO KITTY also as a theme entry, showed up in the (then non-defunct) New York Sun (to this day, I consider constructor Joon Pahk my mortal enemy). These things happen.
- 29A: 1927 Upton Sinclair novel ("OIL") — until this very second, I was reading the clue as [1927 Sinclair Lewis novel]. How far can I take that name string? Upton Sinclair Lewis Carroll O'Connor. Not very far.
- 31A: Neat (SPRUCE) — Shouldn't this clue be [Neaten]? Hmmm, apparently it can stand on its own as an adjective, but I've never heard the word unfollowed by "up."
- 42A Handout from an aspiring musician (DEMO) — speaking of aspiring musicians, went to my daughter's elementary school's Spring Concert last night. For some reason, daughter insists on being in Everything: chorus, orchestra, band. First highlight of night was band's "Theme from Rocky," if only because it was one of the first pieces that wasn't sappy, insipid, cutesy, or childish. Huge applause. Later, the jazz band played, and their (awesome) conductor had many of those kids doing improvised solos! Crazy noise! It was both hilarious and inspiring. Each kid got huge applause. Later, they dusted off the long unused school theme song (written 1916) and brought up a couple of guys who went to the school in the '30s to sing it with the kids. Even the most jaded, disaffected, talk-through-the-whole-performance parents were singing along (lyrics were projected on a big screen up front). Easily the best school-related event I've ever been to.
- 51A: Bar mitzvah party staple (HORA) — I was really looking for food here.
- 1D: Sighting at a punk rock concert, maybe (MOHAWK) — This guy Puck on "Glee" has a MOHAWK. I was finding it mesmerizing last night, for reasons I don't quite understand. I mean, it's been there all season, but for some reason I was fixated on the texture ("Is that fake?") and then trying to imagine what he'd look like if his whole head were covered with hair. MOHAWKs are better than FAUXHAWKs (a word that has also been in the puzzle).
- 4D: Communication system for the gorilla Koko: Abbr. (ASL) — I learned KOKO from crosswords. Once put KOKO in a grid that also contained "OK, OK!"
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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