Capital near Excursion Inlet / SAT 6-5-10 / Triumphant shout / Magna Graeca colony / Boston skyscraper nickname / Dix follower
Saturday, June 5, 2010
Constructor: Samuel A. Donaldson
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: [Triumphant shout] — same clue for 10 different answers
Word of the Day: Galina ULANOVA (15A: Galina ___, old Russian ballerina whose Moscow apartment is now a museum) —
Ulanova, Galina (gälyē'nə ūlä'nōvə), 1910-98, Russian ballerina, b. St. Petersburg. Ulanova made her debut at the Kirov Ballet (1928), where she danced until 1944. That year she became prima ballerina of the Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow, with which she first appeared in 1935, and she received numerous awards from the Soviet government. Noted for her lyric grace and beauty and the emotionalism of her superb acting, she excelled especially in Swan Lake and Giselle and in Lavrovski's version of Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet (1940), in which she created the role of Juliet. First appearing abroad in 1951, she was lauded as one of the greatest ballerinas since Pavlova. After her official retirement in 1962 she continued to teach at the Bolshoi. (Columbia Encyclopedia)
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Irony: I didn't shout triumphantly once during this puzzle. I think the concept is amusing and ambitious — ten theme answers! — but the fill I had to endure to get to the end of this thing ... let's just say you'd *better* love the theme, because there's not a lot else here to love. Any one or two or three or four of the following aren't going to bug me much, but in these kinds of numbers, the aggregate effect is sapping: OVIS, INME, ANUN, EPEE, HAEC (32D: Feminine "this," to Brutus), ANODE, AROAR, FICA, ANAS (!), SCAD (!!), SHEW (!?), ONIT, ENZO (21D: ___ Angiolini (women's shoe brand)), SUPE, ONEA, ENISLE ... and then the high-end crosswordese trifecta of ELEA, SPICA & ORLE (the official law firm of Crossworld). Since the clues on the theme answers are All The Same, there is a relentless quality of sameness to the solving experience, completely unalleviated by entertaining or intriguing words or diabolically clever cluing. Just a barrage of painful short stuff. Even some of the theme answers are really just common words (OLE, GIN, AHA, YES). Again, the theme density is very impressive. I just wish the overall quality of the grid were much higher.
I began weakly in the NW, figuring the triumphant shout at 1A would start with "I." USTA and AHA allowed me to build JUNEAU (1D: Capital near Excursion Inlet), which then prompted me to throw J'ACCUSE! down at 1A. Clever, but wrong. ULANOVA was a total unknown for me, so that had to be built letter by letter (the last letter being the "O" — POS = [Getters of letters]). There were no parts of this grid that fell particularly easily. The SE was probably fastest (I went there after the NW). Started with the random "S" at the end of what became SPRITS (25D: Sail extenders), and reluctantly used it to make SCAD (a most unlikeable word). No wait. I had SLEW at first, but then DEEDEE took me to SCAD. Thanks a lot, DEEDEE (44D: Myers who wrote "Why Women Should Rule the World"). ORLE (51A: Shield border) I knew from too many crosswords. I did not know CORTEZ at all (42D: "Lost" character Ana Lucia ___; never saw a single ep of "Lost" — zero interest ... I just know that some people on a plane get ENISLEd ...), but built her easily enough. ELEA (50D: Magna Graecia colony) I knew from too many crosswords. Same thing with SPICA (29A: Virgo's brightest star) in the NE, which is why I put those three in the law firm together. Somewhat galling to know that I am moving through the puzzle propelled almost solely by my vast reservoir of weird and/or exotic words I've only ever seen in crosswords. No fun in that.
Had most trouble getting into the NE. HURRAH for HURRAY was part, but not all, of the problem. Forgot PRU (22A: Boston skyscraper nickname, with "the"). Had HOT HEAD for HOTSPUR (18A: Impetuous sort). Had STEERS for STEEDS (20A: Occupants of 33-Across [i.e. Track adjuncts=> STABLES]) and so couldn't see ANODE (9D: Thermionic tube part). Tried YES WE CAN before I SURE CAN (13D: "You betcha!"). Etc. A good workout up there.
Theme answers, i.e. Triumphant shouts!:
- 28A: Dix follower (ONZE) — Heinrich ONZE, who followed Otto DIX as the official leader of the Freakist Movement after Dix became disenchanted and went off to paint landscapes somewhere. I think.
- 4D: Human equivalent of a horse's stifle (KNEE) — So now I know the "stifle" and the "withers." I'm well on my way to becoming a horsine anatomist with the vocabulary I'm picking up via crosswords.
- 7D: Occasions to compare noses (TASTINGS) — best clue of the day, I think.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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UPDATE, 2:45pm — If you normally solve puzzles in AcrossLite or in the NYT applet, you'll want to download a .pdf of tomorrow's puz instead: http://bit.ly/bz4jaM