Widows allowances / SAT 11-13-10 / European neolithic monument / Kitschy stuffed toys / Red cocktail for short
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Ehud Barak (Hebrew:, born Ehud Brog on 12 February 1942) is an Israeli politician who served as Prime Minister from 1999 until 2001. He is currently leader of the Labor Party and holds the posts of Minister of Defense and Deputy Prime Minister in Binyamin Netanyahu's government. (wikipedia)
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There's not a single answer in this grid that I haven't heard of (including, I think, IAN — 53A: Actor Somerhalder of "Lost"), and yet it was still pretty damned hard. That NW corner should've been easier than it was, what with COSMO (1D: Red cocktail, for short), ODES, and ATONE going straight in. But STONEHENGE wouldn't stretch far enough at 17A: European neolithic monument (STONE CIRCLE), and then I really screwed myself by seeing straight through the clue at 6D: Supermarket lines, for short but entering not UPC but ... CPU! Ugh. Had to abandon the NW and reboot in the NE via STERE and ENSUE. Had trouble over there as well, where I wanted HOSTELIER (a word I apparently made up) or HOSTESSES instead of HOSTELERS for 14D: They may take you in at night, and FIRESTONE instead of WIRESPOKE for 12D: Kind of wheel. Would've gone with JUMP ROPE at 32A: Play at recess (SKIP ROPE) were it not for the resulting terminal "J" it created at 8D: Five Norwegian kings (HARALDS). Even after I got the NE corner, I couldn't follow it down to the SE and had to reboot yet again. Somehow sussed out DEMOS at 44D: Shows at an expo — probably by just inferring the past tense suffixes on ERRED and YARDED — and then threw OPINIONATED across off just the "O" (my only real coup of the night) (57A: Like critics). Managed to fight my way through the underbrush down there, and then moved into the SW (via HIBACHI, which was obvious from its terminal "I" — 34A: Coal holder). At this point, things sped up considerably, and I (finally) blew into the NW, discovered my CPU-for-UPC error, and finished things up. Last letter was the "L" in LUTED (2D: Played some dulcet tones).
Liked the puzzle, in case that wasn't clear. SOCK MONKEYS (59A: Kitschy stuffed toys) and CLAP PUSH-UPS (1A: Calisthenics for show-offs) are (symmetrical!) winners, and everything else is very smooth. Biggest surprise—how Didi CONN spells her last name (52D: Didi of "Grease" and "Grease 2"). I wanted KAHN. Or CAHN. EYE WINK feels slightly redundant (I mean, really, what other kind of WINK am I going to give you? HAND WINK? EAR WINK?) (38D: Sign meaning "Let this be our little secret"). YARDED is probably the iffiest looking thing in the grid, and it's not so bad (31D: Penned in). Crossing an "ERR" word (ABERRANCY) with an "ERR" word (ERRED) at the "ERR" ... well, that's not great, but otherwise, a very nicely constructed puzzle.
- 25A: Bit of centurion gear (SANDAL) — For a while, just had the "L," and couldn't think of a thing.
- 36A: British form of 33-Down (SNOOKER) / 33D: See 36-Across (POOL) — One of the funniest parts of the new IFC show "The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret" involved a back-and-forth between Todd (David Cross) and a professional SNOOKER player over the proper pronunciation of SNOOKER. Pro ends up getting angry and beating Todd severely with a SNOOKER cue.
- 39A: Widows' allowances (DOWERS) — no idea why I knew this. Feels medieval.
- 40A: Many a character on "The Big Bang Theory" (NERD) — really enjoyed Conan's interview with actress Charlyne Yi the other night, wherein she told a hilarious story about getting hired and fired from this sitcom before it ever aired.
- 41A: Web site with the subheading "Merchant Services" (PAYPAL) — took me far too long, considering I'm a regular user.
- 52A: Air traveling over snow? (CAROL) — Oh. "Air." I see.
- 54A: Rental for many an apartment dweller (MINI-STORAGE) — good answer. Went looking for an actual object, not ... space.
- 26D: Hamilton and Hunt (LINDAS) — Two H-actresses. Nice touch.
- 55D: Word accompanying "Much," "Little" and "Late" in a 1978 #1 hit (TOO) — whoa, serious childhood flashback. Very memorable song ... from the summer my parents got divorced; coincidentally, that's the summer I really started listening to the radio. In earnest. Kind of obsessively. I know Top 40 songs from the late '70s very, very, scarily well.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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P.S. Happy Birthday to my mom! (and, coincidentally, crossword constructor Natan Last)