Mingo player 1960s TV / FRI 10-29-10 / Longtime enemy Wonder Woman / Quaint humilator / Locale for Olivier Award winner
Friday, October 29, 2010
The Free Hanseatic City of Bremen (German: Freie Hansestadt Bremen, pronounced [ˈbʁeːmən]) is the smallest of Germany's 16 states. A more informal name, but used in some official contexts, is Land Bremen ('State of Bremen'). // The state of Bremen consists of two separated enclaves: Bremen, officially the 'City' (Stadtgemeinde Bremen) which is the state capital, and the city of Bremerhaven (Stadt Bremerhaven). Both are located on the River Weser; Bremerhaven is further downstream and serves as a North Sea harbour (the name means "Bremen's harbour"). Both cities are completely surrounded by the neighbouring State of Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen). The two cities are the only administrative subdivisions the state has. (wikipedia)
• • •Liked this one OK. It has some fantastic mid-range answers (which, in this puzzle, are the longest answers), especially NUDE BOMB, which is a jolt from my childhood (54A: 1980 Maxwell Smart film, with "The"). Also really enjoyed FLEA BAG (40D: No posh hotel), DUNCE CAP (36D: Quaint humiliator), and the two-part BICYCLE / STAND (7D: With 6-Down, common sight outside a school building). The grid shape feels very ordinary, very common, like it was lifted right out of some generic themeless template. Its structure allows for words of only 8 letters or shorter—hence, a lot of tired, shortish stuff. High-end crosswordese like ORLE (46A: Shield border) and DENEB (45A: Star in the Swan constellation) and XIAN (23A: Capital of Shaanx province) and EXOCET (15A: Missile that sank a British destroyer in the Falklands War) rubs elbows with low-end crosswordese like INCAS and ACRO and AMO and DELE. Answers like LALALA, RESODS, SOLIDER, and NASTASE (24D: The court's Bucharest Buffoon) don't do much to endear the puzzle to me either. The puzzle is redeemed somewhat in the clues, many of which are quite clever. But I like my themelesses with somewhat more sizzly fill than this one provided. Did this one in 7-something, which is fast, but not record-fast. Didn't encounter any significant trouble. AVOCET for EXOCET started me off a little wobbly, and BREMEN was a complete unknown to me, but everything else went in fairly easily.
There's an interesting array of pop culture clues in this puzzle—I did not know the 10D: Longtime enemy of Wonder Woman (ARES), but the answer makes sense, given the classical context of her origins (e.g. I know WW worships Athena ... who, coincidentally, my daughter is dressing up as for Halloween this year). "Sk8er BOI" (50A: "Sk8er ___" (2002 top 10 hit)) I know just 'cause, and it was reinforced in my brain when it was mentioned recently on the (fabulous) podcast "The Bugle" (John Oliver and Andy Zaltzman). Avril Lavigne (the singer of "Sk8er BOI") is, for reasons too complicated and ridiculous to get into, part of a running joke on the podcast. I don't know who Mingo is (8D: Mingo player of 1960s TV), but I am vaguely familiar with the actor ED AMES (entirely because of crosswords). Looks like Mingo was the "American Indian friend" of Daniel Boone in the eponymous '60s TV series. Sounds like an evil space emperor, but I think I have him confused with Ming the Merciless and/or Mungo Jerry.
- 31A: Company at the forefront of the dot-com boom (NETSCAPE) — Yes, I remember their browser well. '90s!
- 44A: Club cousin (BLT) — sandwich, not card suit.
- 51A: Locale for an Olivier Award winner (THEATRE) — no idea what to do with this one, but answer was fairly easy to infer—got TROUPE first (42D: 51-Across unit), oddly enough.
- 9D: Sawyer's successor in Chicago (DALEY) — never heard of Sawyer, but Chicago-to-DALEY is a pretty easy move.
- 11D: Discipline symbolized by a painted circle (ZEN) — don't think I knew that. Had the "Z" so getting the answer was easy anyway.
- 12D: Style associated with washboards (ZYDECO) — off the -CO, actually wrote in ROCOCO.
- 51D: Alternative to a carpet lift (T-BAR) — wow, never heard of a "carpet lift." It's essentially a conveyor belt. They didn't have these where I skied as a kid.
P.S. One of my own crossword puzzles is featured today at Brendan Emmett Quigley's (fabulous) crossword site. Kindly check it out.
P.P.S. This made me laugh (contains profanity)
P.P.P.S. Back in September, I designed a puzzle for tomorrow. You can get it here (as .puz file or printable .pdf), or print it out below.
The Washington Brawl
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