Disk-shaped sea creature / TUE 5-4-10 / Poet who originated phrase harmony in discord / Battlefield doc / Horseshoers' tools
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Constructor: Doug Peterson
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: All About the Washingtons... — theme answers are phrases that end in words for a one-dollar bill
Word of the Day: MARIANAS Trench (39D: ___ Trench (deepest point on Earth's surface)) —
The Mariana Trench is the deepest known part of the world's oceans, and the lowest elevation of the surface of the Earth's crust. It is located in the western Pacific Ocean, to the east of the Mariana Islands. The trench is about 2,550 kilometres (1,580 mi) long but has a mean width of only 69 kilometres (43 mi). It reaches a maximum depth of about 10,916 metres (35,814 ft) at the Challenger Deep, a small slot-shaped valley in its floor, at its southern end. [One problem: I'm not seeing the "S" on "MARIANAS" anywhere except in some band's name... oh, wait, I'm seeing a few "S"-versions of the actual Trench now ... weird that it is apparently acceptable in "S" and Non-"S" versions]
Back home in NY and up at my normal ungodly hour so I'm jetlagged as all hell. Thank god I already did this puzzle this past weekend, as the second puzzle at the "Crosswords L.A." tournament — this means that I basically pre-blogged it in my head while I was sitting there in the judges' room, and so don't have to do much original thinking this morning. Plus, I was smart enough to jot down all my notes last night, when I actually (re-)did the puzzle, so I'm about to go onto something like autopilot. Forgive me.
Really liked this one — it's Tuesday-easy, but with a pretty solid five entries and great long, open corners in the NW and SE. I can tell you that the most common errors on this puzzle in the tournament were UHOH instead of OHOH (14A: Anticipatory cry) — an understandable error, but one that a simple checking of crosses should have taken care of. RUSETTA Stone? No (1D: Stone discovery site => ROSETTA). The other sore spot was the far NE, where all kinds of devices got shoved into the grid where CAMS (10A: Video recorders, briefly) was supposed to be. Mainly VCRS, but also some DVDS, I think. VCRS at least gives you a semi-plausible answer at 11D: Pretty good grade (A MINUS) — I guess a C MINUS is "pretty good" if you've, say, spent most of the semester getting high, or never done any of the reading. Otherwise, people mostly finished this one successfully. I don't know what the deal with the "S" in MARIANAS Trench is — no one said a word about it at the tournament, but the more accepted name appears to be just MARIANA TRENCH. Discuss.
Oh, one other issue. SOFT SHELL ... CLAM? Many, many people (including yours truly) had never heard of such a thing and instinctively entered SOFT SHELL CRAB in that slot. However, a simple check of crosses revealed the actual answer in short order. Mercifully, there is no such thing as a thunder CRAP (34D: Sound of thunder => CLAP).
- 17A: Disk-shaped sea creature (SAND DOLLAR)
- 24A: Shift blame to another (PASS THE BUCK)
- 35A: Chowder ingredient (SOFT SHELL CLAM)
- 49A: Hit that just clears the infield (BLOOP SINGLE) — I had POP-UP SINGLE here at first, as that is what "-P SINGLE" suggested to me. BLOOP is much better.
- 58A: Auto-racing designation (FORMULA ONE)
- 1A: Dudley Do-Right's org. (RCMP) — Had to stop and think about the particular letters and their order here. RCMP (for "Royal Canadian Mounted Police") doesn't exactly trip off the tongue.
- 65A: Horseshoers' tools (RASPS) — honestly, I don't know what these are / do. Apparently, "In farriery, rasps are used to remove excess hoof wall from a horse's hoof." (wikipedia) — I really wish "farriery" had been in the clue (not a Tuesday word, I suppose).
- 8D: Union with 3+ million members, in brief (NEA) — would prefer if clue was topic-specific. Easy enough to get, but kinda dull (though, to be fair, I'm not sure how you spice up a clue for NEA).
- 45D: Poet who originated the phrase "harmony in discord" (HORACE) — I may just be learning this phrase today. I read HORACE's "Ars poetica" once. It's more famous for giving us the term "in medias res."
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]