Unagi sources / THU 7-22-10 / Worshiping figure / Wooden-soled shoe / Positive thinking exponent / Nostalgists opening words
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Constructor: Jeremy Horwitz
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: "3" — unnumbered center square has following Across/Down clues in puzzle note:
- Across: Shortest title of any #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 [Britney Spears, 2009]
- Down: Length of the eight runners-up to the Across answer, all of which are answers to starred clues in the this puzzle.
Word of the Day: KEDGES (15D: Small anchors) —
A light anchor used for warping a vessel. (answers.com)
• • •With apologies to Mr. Horowitz and his perfectly good puzzle, I can't expend much energy on this one — I am in no condition. You'd *think* the main reason for my bowing out would be the fact that my daughter was in a camp-related van accident earlier today and had to have a head wound stapled shut. But no. That ended up being ... eventful, but, luckily, not at all serious. No. I'm in no condition to write this thing up because *on top of* the aforementioned accident, I sat down to a puzzle that was half doable and then half ... incomprehensible. Top half filled, bottom half ... a wasteland. Nothing falling into place. Mostly empty. I couldn't do Anything with it. 15, 20 minutes go by (I normally do Thursdays in 6-8), I start looking up answers (which I *never* do) ... and they Don't Fit. I then look up the 1972 Michael Jackson song and sure enough, as I thought, it's "BEN." So Why Does My Puzzle Say It's FIVE LETTERS LONG!? Well, after a bit of sleuthing, I find out it's because Black Ink (my solving software) absolutely butchered the .puz file. Whatever special coding the NYT had to do to make this puzzle work did not take with Black Ink. Here are some funny moments from my nonsensical version of this puzzle—
- 40A: Unworthy of (BOWED TO)
- 52A: Succumb to mind control (CLEOPATRA)
- 39D: Greeted deferentially (HUBCAP)
So then I went and solved directly on the NYT page (in the applet), and bam, everything numbered correctly, and all the answers I'd wanted So Bad (that wouldn't fit in my Bizarro puzzle) were right where they were supposed to be. Sigh. Anyway, I think (I *think*) the puzzle is kind of cute, but my analytical mojo is spent, so who knows?
- 5A: *Jackson 5, 1970 ("ABC")
- 22A: *Usher feat. will.i.am, 2010 ("OMG")
- 45A: *Michael Jackson, 1972 ("BEN")
- 59A: *Frankie Avalon, 1959 ("WHY")
- 12D: *Michael Jackson, 1987 ("BAD")
- 32D: *Edwin Starr, 1970 ("WAR")
- 34D: *Flo Rida feat. T-Pain, 2008 ("LOW")
- 54D: *Rihanna, 2006 ("S.O.S.")
I guess I can do ...
- 19A: Capital whose name is Urdu for "place of peace" (ISLAMABAD) — ah, this was part of the grid where the clues and answers still matched. Good times ... started out very fast on this one, getting all the first Downs off of YIPS and filling in the long Downs almost immediately thereafter.
- 26A: "Harlequin's Carnival," for one (MIRÓ) — one of my favorite artists. Got this off the terminal "O."
- 28A: Nostalgist's opening words ("TIME WAS ...") — about the last answer I got before the wheels came off. After I threw IRENE CARA down (29D: "Fame" actress), it was all over. Nothing worked.
- 43D: Taft and Bush, collegiately (ELIS) — my puzzle had this in the 42D position and I confidently wrote in YALIES.
- 51A: Earliest million-dollar movie role (CLEOPATRA) — my puzzle had this clue in the 50A position. Me: "C... C... CUJO?"
- 55A: Gypsum variety used in carvings (ALABASTER) — Couldn't define "gypsum" or "alabaster" for you (though I know from poetry that the latter is white).
- 3D: "Positive thinking" exponent (PEALE) — Norman Vincent, who wrote "The Power of Positive Thinking." Infamously anti-Catholic.
- 5D: Longest book of the Book of Mormon (ALMA) — Longest? Who cares? At least give me a good reason for having to know this book. Longest. Pfft.
- 38D: Outer covering for some nuts (HUBCAP) — great clue.
- 30D: 1864 battle site that was the source of the quote "Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!" (MOBILE BAY) — not a place I'm familiar with. Got almost all of it from crosses.
- 11D: Subject of the 1997 best seller "Into Thin Air" (MT. EVEREST) — well, it's a mountain ... luckily, I had MTE- in place, so that mountain in question wasn't too hard to come up with.
- 49D: Word repeated before some relatives' names (GREAT) — another good clue. Sadly, in my screwed-up version, the answer was also five letters, and so I wrote in GREAT, which just kept me confused even longer. "Some of these answers fit ... What's Wrong With This Puzzle!?" Seriously, it was maddening. I wonder if anyone else out there actually solves in Black Ink, and if so ... what happened to you?
- 24D: Like the first of May of the end of June? (NASAL) — didn't like this trick only because of "first of May," which really should have been "beginning of May." "First" implies the letter "M" (not the NASAL consonant sound) and doesn't parallel "end of" well at all (esp. considering "June"'s last letter is "e," and asking us to imagine that a one-syllable word has a discrete "end" —here, the NASAL consonant sound of "N"— that is not letter-related is slightly irksome); there's such a thing as getting carried away with your trickiness. Elegance and consistency above everything else.
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