Depression at mouth of volcano / SUN 5-2-10 / Malt liquor brand named after Irish nun / 19th-century Swedish writer Esaias / It's digestible sloganeer
Sunday, May 2, 2010
Constructor: Kelsey Blakley
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: "FIX-A-TION" — add "TION" to ends of familiar (mostly) phrases, get wacky phrases, clue wackily
Word of the Day: Esaias TEGNÉR (92d. 19th-century Swedish writer Esaias ___) —
Esaias Tegnér (Kyrkerud, Värmland 13 November 1782 (1782-11-13) – 2 November 1846 (1846-11-03)), was a Swedish writer, professor of Greek language, and bishop. He was during the 19th century regarded as the father of modern poetry in Sweden, mainly through the national romantique epos Frithjof's Saga. He has been called Sweden's first modern man. Much is known about him, and he also wrote openly about himself. (wikipedia)
[Gotta dispute the "much is known about him" claim; also, that's a ridiculous sentence for the first paragraph of anyone's bio. "He was a sentient, ambulatory being who survived by breathing in oxygen ..."]
Short write-up, both because it's late and because I'm on vacation in L.A. and really don't have the time, energy, or equipment to do a thorough job. I Hate writing up the puzzle without a printed-out copy that I can mark up and refer to. Do Not like toggling back and forth from browser to solving software. Also, honestly, I really disliked this puzzle on several levels, and rather than froth about it, I'd rather just make a few simple remarks and let it go. I'm just too tired. I spent all day at the "Crosswords L.A." charity tournament (a great success, about which more later, say Tuesday), where I was a judge/scorer. Enormous fun, but oddly exhausting.
Adding "TION" — unremarkable. Also, made tons of letters in puzzle easy (instant) to get (once you grasped the theme), and so cluing was (clearly) made tougher-than-normal, but not in a very enjoyable way. I liked some of the theme answers, but really disliked a couple as well. In particular, I disliked CONTRA VIOLATION, both because the clue is torturous (I barely get it), and because what the Hell is a Contra Viola. Had to look it up, and it didn't google well. Yuck. HOME DEMOTION did nothing for me either. Is a HOME DEMO a common theme? I mean, in a world largely free of door-to-door salesmen? Hmmm. And what are "King's men" / "Kingsmen"? Like ... All the King's Men? It's not a strong self-standing phrase. And the resulting answer is kind of moribund. Disappointment all around.
Then there was the fill. The following are answers that, especially taken in total, just killed the enjoyment level for me today:
- EROSE (17D: Having an irregularly gnawed edge)
- IDE'S (!?!?!?!) (35A: Malt liquor brand named after Irish nun)
- CALDERA (77A: Depression at the mouth of a volcano)
- ATOAST (I want this to be one word, i.e. "Lo, behold, the bread is ATOAST!")
- ARTIS (OK, I like this, but it smacks of desperation, i.e. "I need common letters in a certain weird order!")
- TSGTS (I grudgingly accept SSGTS, and barely tolerate MSGTS — TSGTS is just beyond the pale for me)
- RESAT (ugh)
- TEGNÉR (come on ...)
- 23A: Following the rules? (CONTRA VIOLATION)
- 36A: Variety of arbitrating techniques? (MIXED MEDIATION)
- 16D: Being forced into a smaller house, say? (HOME DEMOTION)
- 53A: Title under a photo of rain? (SHOWER CAPTION)
- 73a. Detergent factory, e.g.? (SOAP OPERATION)
- 90a. "$100 per dozen plus shipping," e.g.? (SALES QUOTATION)
- 106A: Enthronement of a metalworker? (SMITH CORONATION) — my favorite, by a mile
- 60d. Passing reference in the "I Have a Dream" speech? (KING'S MENTION)
- 26A: 2009 "Survivor" locale (SAMOA) — easy enough even if you don't watch the show. Island ... warm climate ... a cross or two and you can infer it.
- Ladle cradle (SPOON REST) — Took me a while to get the REST part. Had RACK at some point. I think we even *have* a SPOON REST on our stove top...
- 7D: Grp. with the old slogan "A deadline every minute" (UPI) — United Press International. News agency.
- 11D: "It's digestible" sloganeer, once (CRISCO) — OK, this made me laugh out loud. Bravo on the cluing. "No, seriously, it's edible!"
- 75D: "Grand" backdrop for "Shane" (TETON) — just one?
- 101D: Alternative to Chuck (CHAS) — Me: "Fringe?" (it's a "TV shows I have no business watching" thing)
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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