Massachusetts city called Tool Town / FRI 8-27-10 / Actress Chandler / Deep-sea exploration pioneer / Site of Vulcan's smithy
Friday, August 27, 2010
Athol (pronounced /ˈæθɒl/) is a town in Worcester County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 11,299 at the 2000 census. (wikipedia)
• • •I think we have a new record low population for a puzzle city ("city," really? At under 12K?), edging out ELMA, NY by 5 whole people. I had no hope with that "L," as I've never heard of ATHOL (though it sounds like something I might have mocked as unworthy years ago, and then forgotten), and DOSE sounded like a great answer to 21A: Get blitzed. I'm fairly sure "DOSE" is drug slang for taking a hit, shooting up, whatever ... though "official" dictionaries are returning only transitive verb defs. of DOSE. Whatever. Hard to care about this puzzle after that one. I mean, I get that you have to toughen it up, since the 2 sets of double-15 answers (nice, by the way), are Soooo easy to get, but make it tough by making it tough, not by making a horrible cross. Maybe ATHOL is super well known to all y'all, but Bah. It took me many, many seconds to understand how LOSE could be the answer to [Get blitzed]. TONUS? NO-nus (18A: Normal muscle tension). Come on. Boo to that corner. And INFUSE WITH (4D: Give the flavor of). Awkward. But again, the sets of 15s are gold—the only reason for this puzzle to exist.
- 14A: With 17-Across, encouragement for a trailing team ("IT'S NOT OVER UNTIL / THE FAT LADY SINGS")
- 57A: With 60-Across, risky "Jeopardy!" declaration ("LET'S MAKE IT A TRUE / DAILY DOUBLE, ALEX")
Never heard of: BEEBE (9A: Deep-sea exploration pioneer) or ESTEES (24A: Actress Chandler and others — she was in, uh, "Teen Wolf Too" and ... a single episode of "Who's the Boss?"; sure, that's puzzleworthy) or TONI (25D: Lydman of the N.H.L.) or EARLE (48D: 1960s Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Wheeler), so despite the ease with which I brought down the big stuff, this one actually took me slightly longer than my average Friday. Doesn't seem possible, as I don't recall having serious trouble anywhere, but the time is what the time is. Maybe I was slow out of the box, trying to decide between OAHU and MAUI at 1A: Lanai's county and FINS and ABES at 5A: Five-spots and OVEN and MITT at 1D: A baker might have a hand in it). I know the ATHOL / LOSE / TONUS miasma gave me fits. Ditto ESTEES (who?) / TONI (who?). But crosswordese came to the rescue with ENID (a guess—never liked "Scrubs": 1D: Often-referenced but never-seen wife on "Scrubs") and ETNA (11D: Site of Vulcan's smithy) and BIGD and ELSA (13D: The bride in Wagner's "Bridal Chorus") (it's like a crosswordese museum up there), and DRAY (first guess!) (23D: Transporter of heavy loads) and ODEA and TBAR and SST (another wing in the museum).
Wanted MUTT for IAMS (31D: Pedigree alternative) and IRON for LEAD (46D: With 34-Across, slag furnace input). Else, very doable, with the above-noted exceptions.
- 20A: It originated at Zurich's Cabaret Voltaire in the 1910s (DADA) — so that's where the 80s group Cabaret Voltaire got their name!
- 40A: Golfer who turned pro at age 15 (WIE) — as in Michelle. With that name, I'd expect to see her in the grid more often—though she really should win more if she wants to cement her crossword immortality.
- 42A: Newswoman Lesley (STAHL) — Gimme. One of my favorite big-name newspeople.
- 16D: Slugger Sandberg (RYNE) — would not have thought of him as a big crossword name, but that's twice in the past couple weeks for this former Cub and Hall-of-Fame 2nd baseman.
- 27D: Like many laid-up Brits (IN HOSPITAL) — They like to leave out definite article over there, apparently.
- 56D: Send explicit come-ons by cell phone (SEXT) — I love that this is a word, and that the NYT puzzle is cool with it. SPAM fits here, (in)conveniently.
[59D: R&B group with the hit "Ain't 2 Proud 2 Beg" (TLC)]
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]
PS Thanks to Andrea Michaels (via Michael Blake) for pointing out that I was mentioned in a Wall Street Journal blog ("Deal Journal") on Wednesday — re: the word POTASH (!?). Click here to read.