Competitor of Bloomie's / THU 9-9-10 / Versailles valedictions / McCarthy associate Roy / Units of chains x furlongs / Electron-swathed nuclei
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Constructor: Kevin Wald
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: ...typographically — theme answers are words that describe shapes represented by black squares in the grid
Word of the Day: LEA Michele (38D: Michele of "Glee") —
Lea Michele Sarfati (born August 29, 1986), known professionally as Lea Michele, is an American actress and singer. Michele began working professionally as a child actor on Broadway in productions such as Les Misérables. She appeared in several more musicals before being selected for the lead role in the hit musical Spring Awakening, earning a Drama Desk Award nomination for her performance. She has recently received widespread acclaim for her role as Rachel Berry, which has accumulated Emmy and Golden Globe nominations, in the Fox television series Glee.
An ingenious puzzle, but one crucial cluing problem (which I ran into early) made the puzzle more irksome than entertaining, in the end. The problem: 26A: Octet of black squares in the middle of this grid, typographically. The problem part II: There simply is no "octet" in the "middle of this grid." There are nine black squares across the middle, and nine in the line I assumed was in question—the diagonal set of squares *straight* through the "middle of this grid." Asking me to see the two sets of four black squares as an "octet" (and then as TWO DASHES—not nearly as coherent a unit as the others) is not particularly reasonable. All the other square sets involve contiguous squares. This mislabeling issue killed the puzzle for me. I figured it all out, and ended up very impressed at the symmetries involved in this puzzle's construction, but the "octet" snafu sucked the life out of this one early on, and I never quite got that life back.
Other theme answers:
- 9A: Lower septet of black squares in this grid, typographically (SEVEN)
- 18A: Higher septet of black squares in this grid, typographically (CAPITAL ELL) — :( would you have accepted CAPITAL DEE as an answer? I didn't think so.
- 45A: Nonet of black squares in this grid, typographically (SLASH MARK)
- 54A: Higher pair of black squares in this grid, typographically (APOSTROPHE)
- 60A: Lower pair of black squares in this grid, typographically (COMMA)
- 5A: Work with singing Egyptians (AIDA) — gimmes like this one kept things rolling. AIDA must be the most popular opera title in Crossworld.
- 14A: "Late Show" host, colloquially (DAVE) — easy, once I remembered which of the late-night shows is called "Late Show."
- 20A: Bone on the pinkie side (ULNA) — weird clue. "... pinkie side OF ...?"
- 34A: Groan trigger (PUN) — finding PUN clued via its groan-inducing capacity a lot these days.
- 23A: McCarthy associate Roy (COHN) — first thought: Charlie McCarthy. SNERD didn't fit, and his first name is "Mortimer" anyway.
- 35A: Much-read book of 150 poems (PSALMS) — something about "Much-read" screamed "Bible" to me.
- 8D: Versailles valedictions (ADIEUS) — whenever I teach Donne's "Valediction: Forbidding Mourning" (every year), I start by asking what "valediction" means. Inevitably, almost no one knows. This leads to a lesson on Looking Sh*t Up!
- 28D: Competitor of Bloomie's (SAKS) — not sure if I'm proud or ashamed of getting this easily. First thought: Macy's. Then ... bam.
- 35D: New Jersey city, river or county (PASSAIC) — I know virtually nothing about NJ. I must know this place from dialogue in movies or TV. Maybe "The Sopranos?"
- 43D: Outdoor summer pest, slangily (SKEETER) — off the "K"! For the win!
- 51D: "Got it," jocularly (AH, SO) — if, by "jocularly," you mean, "in a way that mocks Asians," then yes.
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