Town outside of Buffalo / THU 8-19-10 / Chief Justice before Hughes / Targets of salicyllic acid / 1940 spencer tracy biopic
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Constructor: Kristian House
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: HEAD FIRST (33A: Impetuously ... or what can go on each part of the answer to each starred clue?) — "HEAD" can precede both words in each theme answer, in common phrases, though I have no idea what a HEAD PIECE is...
Word of the Day: ELMA (23D: Town outside of Buffalo) —
The Town of Elma was split from the Towns of Aurora and Lancaster. Encompassing 36 square miles with two major waterways, the Buffalo Creek and Cazenovia Creek, Elma sits squarely in the center of Erie County and can safely ["phew!"] call itself the Heart of Erie County. Over 11,304 residents call Elma home, as does Iroquois Central School, one of Western New Yorks top rated school systems, and Elma Meadows Golf Course, one of Erie Countys [sic] top public courses. Residents enjoy spending time with their family and friends at two of Elma's parks, the Elma Village Green and Creek Road Park. There are also athletic fields, a Senior Center, Town Museum, and Public Library. (Town of Elma, New York official website)
A "words that can follow" puzzle ... on a Thursday? Weird. This is a reasonably common genre of puzzle that normally falls a day or two earlier in the week. There's nothing tricky here, just some hard / ambiguous cluing, and a Ton of theme answers (impressive). Sadly, the puzzle experience was largely ruined for me by the cheap trickery of ELMA. Why in the World do you draw attention to the Worst answer in your grid by cluing it in a way that so deliberately tries to trick people into guessing a different (much more reasonable) answer (in this case, ERIE)? If you are going to trick folks, make them Like your trick once they discover it. No One but residents of ELMA is going to enjoy discovering ELMA. "Oh, 11,000 people? ... and a Senior Center? ... you don't say." The ELMA debacle is unfortunate, as there is a lot of sizzle in this grid — highlight is the HANGDOG (33D: Abject) / ERAGON (46D: 2003 Christopher Paolini fantasy best seller) crossing in the SW. Also like ROOFTOP (esp. as clued, 39D: Like the last Beatles concert, 1969) and (though I do Not enjoy his films) CAMERON, esp. next to ONE-MAN HYPE (4D: Kind of army or show + 17D: Ballyhoo).
- 16A: *One on safari (GAME HUNTER)
- 20A: *Part of stage scenery (SET PIECE)
- 26A: *What a cell doesn't need (PHONE LINE)
- 43A: *Absolutely (STONE COLD)
- 49A: *Cut off from water (LAND LOCK)
- 54A: *Person with a baton (BAND MASTER)
STONE COLD is the best theme answer here, for sure. Wish clue had gone with [Moniker for pro wrestler Steve Austin], but maybe that wouldn't have played with the older, or younger, demographic. I think of a SET PIECE as a prepared play in sports, most often involving free kicks or corner kicks in soccer. That answer did not come easily at all, as clued. Clue on ANARCHY feels awfully arbitrary (2D: "___ is the only slight glimmer of hope": Mick Jagger). Why was Jagger speaking out about ANARCHY? Why did anyone bother to write his quotation down? Had an oddly hard time with the crossing of STRAW (5A: Item sometimes having an elbow) and WARTS (9D: Targets of salicylic acid) (palindrome!!!). Could think only of STRAW as a piece of flora, and, well, I've never had to deal with WARTS before, so it wasn't until I got everything but the crossing letter that I finally figured out what the letter had to be.
- 10A: "L'Amour avec ___" (French love song) ("TOI") — Come on, everyone, sing it with me! Oh, that's right, you can't, because you don't know it. No, you don't, Frenchie.
- 30A: Objectivist Rand (AYN) — Makes her sound like a painter. My mom used to get "The Objectivist," and owns two signed copies of Rand novels, which is weird, because if you had to list a thousand people who you thought might have influenced my mother in any substantial way, AYN Rand, I assure you, would not be on that list.
- 52A: Chief Justice before Hughes (TAFT) — Me: "Hughes?" Luckily, I knew TAFT had been a Chief Justice, so it only took a letter or two to figure this one out.
- 62A: Host Gibbons of "Hollywood Confidential" (LEEZA) — a name built for crosswords. No idea what (undoubtedly horrible) show is being referred to in this clue.
- 10D: Arboreal marker (TREE TAG) — Hmmm. Can I put a TAG on anything and then make a new phrase? I'm just saying I don't know why TREEs are TAGged, and google isn't helping much. There's a game called TREE TAG. That can't be much fun. The trees can't very well get away, or chase you.
- 28D: "___, the Man," 1940 biopic starring Spencer Tracy ("EDISON") — yikes! Saturday cluing. Unless you are a serious film buff, or roughly 80+ years old.
- 37D: Actresses Crain and Tripplehorn (JEANNES) — a gimme, though I can only dimly picture one of these JEANNES (the latter), and I don't know why or where I know her from.
- 56D: One-named singer of the 1998 hit "It's All About Me" (MYA) — it's amazing I know who she is, bec. I have a serious pop music gap right around the time I was finishing my dissertation, and ... I don't know that she's done anything lately. Now M.I.A.— she's working.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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