Chess master Averbakh /SAT 12-18-10/ Intergenerational MTV reality show / Old Rory Calhoun TV western / Poule's counterpart / Shalom Meir Tower locale
Saturday, December 18, 2010
- Soiling or the condition of being soiled.
- A blot, stain, or smudge. (answers.com)
• • •Wow, I really wish I'd gotten SOILURE out of the way early on, because that is one horrible, ugly, anti-climactic way to end your puzzling experience, let me tell you. Truly one of the most off-putting words in the English language. It's barely sayable. My mouth does not want to make that succession of sounds. What's wrong with "soilage"? (which can also mean "green crops for feeding confined animals," which is strange, considering "silage" is also a kind of animal feed...). Seriously, say SOILURE out loud. Unless you are French (and maybe even then) you sound like a dirty idiot. OK, now that that's over, aside from REGINAL (yuck) (11D: Queenly), I thought this puzzle was a blast, and very much on the easy side. If I hadn't had a rock solid POLLUTE for SOILURE, and if I hadn't had to run the alphabet to get that "R" in SOILURE, I would've rated this "Easy." But the hold-up there was significant for me, and then I had a tiny bit of trouble in the NE, with PEI for LIN (18A: Designer of Alabama's Civil Rights Memorial) and no recollection of GELÉE (38A: French frost) and only dim crossword memories of SABU. Every other part of this puzzle, however, I flew through. Wed-Thur.-level for me, which is strange, considering how brutal Brad Wilber puzzles can be.
[Dear syndicated solvers—It's pledge week here at the Rex Parker site (thru Saturday) —read my pitch for donations in the opening paragraphs of this past Sunday's write-up, here ... and thanks for your faithful readership (and the many kind messages I've received so far)]
ECHO SOUNDER is too technical to be very interesting to me (1A: Aid in deep diving), but the other long stuff up there is great, as are the words in that section's SE counterpart. Just lovely. Helped quite a bit today by two pieces of random pop culture knowledge. First, ESME (1D: Woman in all four "Twilight" novels). Total gimme, though I don't remember that name at all from "Twilight." I just remember seeing the name clued via "Twilight" at least once before, and marveling at the non-Salingerity of it all. I also knew "DATE MY MOM" (30D: Intergenerational MTV reality show), only I thought it was "DATE MY DAD." Dropped it down without a single cross, I think, and then changed DAD to MOM after seeing the easy clue for SEM. (56A: Father's alma mater: Abbr.). Guessed "THE TEXAN" (39A: Old Rory Calhoun TV western) from "THE T..." and the resulting "X" made NIXON ERA (34D: When William Safire worked at the White House) supereasy to get. From there, swept through the whole SE right up to SECT (35D: One may be Protestant) without so much as blinking. Then inched my way through the middle of the grid, then set about squeezing both the NW and NE. Overall, not quite as exquisite as yesterday's grid, but still a very accomplished piece of work.
- 16A: Sch. with a 60-foot "Praying Hands" sculpture (ORU) — Figured it was some "U", which was semi-helpful in picking up JUNOESQUE (14D: Queenly)
- 25A: Marine muncher on mangrove leaves (MANATEE) — I like how the answers carries on the alliteration.
- 28A: Heroine of Inge's "Picnic" (MADGE) — I know only one MADGE ... wasn't she the Palmolive commercial waitress played by Ida Morgenstern? Wait, no, she was the Bounty lady ... who was the "You're soaking in it" lady? Oh, man. OK, MADGE *is* the Palmolive lady ... but what's Ida Morgenstern's name in the Bounty commercials then? Man oh man, I'm really screwed up. Nancy Walker is *Rosie* in the Bounty ads. Ida Morgenstern is the *fictional* character Nancy Walker played on "Rhoda." Well, I'm glad that's cleared up now.
- 32A: Poule's counterpart (COQ) — easy for me, but I'm not thrilled about this French word being so close to that other, less well known French word.
- 35A: Actor awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross in W.W. II (SABU) — he's just some guy who lives in crosswords, as far as I know.
- 41A: Disney character prone to spoonerisms (DOC) — clearly haven't seen "Snow White" in a long time, as I don't remember this at all.
- 46A: "Saving Fish from Drowning" novelist (AMY TAN) — had AMY before I ever saw the clue, so no sweat.
- 48A: Spider, Snoopy or Intrepid: Abbr. (LEM) — without "Intrepid," I'd have been lost on this one.
- 51A: Artwork depicted in Dali's "The Hallucinogenic Toreador" (VENUS DE MILO) — that's a great title for a painting.
- 25D: Israel Philharmonic maestro (MEHTA) — for the first few years of his life, I called my cat "ZUBIN" a lot. For no good reason. His real name sounds nothing like "ZUBIN." I just liked the way it sounded.
- 31A: Home to Mohammed V University (RABAT) — took a few crosses to turn up. The "B" was key.
- 47D: Chess master Averbakh (YURI) — no way in hell. Thankfully, it didn't matter. Never saw the clue; crosses were all quite easy.
- 44D: Rival of Yastrzemski for 1960s A.L. batting titles (OLIVA) — Got it off the "V" from IRA ROLLOVER, which I got off the "IR-" (eeeeasy clue—55A: Financial option upon leaving a job).
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]