National monument near Flagstaff / SAT 7-31-10 / Uninked embossed stamp / Catcher Fletcher 1990s Expos / First word Sblood
Saturday, July 31, 2010
Tuzigoot National Monument preserves a 2 to 3 story pueblo ruin on the summit of a limestone and sandstone ridge just east of Clarkdale, Arizona, 120 feet (36 m) above the Verde River floodplain. The National Park Service currently owns 58 acres, within an authorized boundary of 834 acres (3.38 km2) // Tuzigoot is Apache for "crooked water", from nearby Peck's Lake, a cutoff meander of the Verde River. Historically, it was built by the Sinagua people between 1125 and 1400 CE. Tuzigoot is the largest and best-preserved of the many Sinagua pueblo ruins in the Verde Valley.
This had many different difficulty levels, depending on what section of the grid I happened to be in. Got off to a very fast start by knowing Tim RAINES (18A: 1987 All-Star Game M.V.P.). The fact that he crosses another, much more obscure Montreal Expo is some kind of giant F*^% YOU to all the non-sports-fans out there. Yeesh (9D: Catcher Fletcher of the 1990s Expos=>DARRIN). Anyway, RAINES made that corner very accessible. Dropped OLAY down and SO SORRY across and things got very open very quickly. Went back and did the NE corner, but could only drop WINDCA- down at 12D: National park in South Dakota, as I've never heard of the park *and* did not know JAPAN could be an *adjective* (34A: Like the rarest rhino). I had ASIAN there at first [Ha ha: ERROR—it's JAVAN—oh, the perils of solving late at night, ugh]. In fact, this is the part of the puzzle I finished last. Had to close in on it from the SE (which, once I finally got to it, I finished *very* quickly).
First real thorny part came in NW, where bad guess of REGO at 6D: ___ Park (B'klyn neighborhood) got me the "O" I needed for SO SORRY but screwed me up in every other way. Finally wanted ANAEROBE (15A: Septic tank resident) and figured ANAEREBE was not a real thing, so gave up REGO (real answer is BORO), which allowed me then, finally, to put that corner to bed, but only after waiting out the second part of PIZZA- ... dimensions ended up being *really* important in that clue (1A: It may measure 16" x 16" x 2"). XEROSIS, never heard of it (8D: Possible result of vitamin A deficiency). From WINDCAPE [WRONG: actually WINDCAVE] to XEROSIS to the SW, where the biggest WTF was lying in wait for me. A word that I didn't know, as well as a word that had Not A Single Inferrable Letter. None. TUZIGOOT!? Once I decided RAZE (43A: Word whose antonym is its own homophone) and FIG (53A: Whit) were right, there was nothing left to do but finish the puzzle and then google to see if that nonsense word was, in fact, a thing. And it was. SW was the only corner w/o a complete Unknown, and, not surprisingly, the easiest for me to bring down.
Wait, am I reading this right? "Septic" in the ANAEROBE clue (15A: Septic tank resident) and SEPTIC as an answer at 46D: Infected. Wow, that's a mistake someone should have caught.
- 16A: Accidentally uninked embossed stamp (ALBINO) — I have no idea what this means. Can't even fathom a context. Oh, a *postage* stamp. This is a term from philately. Who doesn't love those?
- 9A: It was sung in Rocky Balboa's neighborhood (DOO WOP) — back when I thought DARRIN was JARRED, I had this answer starting JOO-. I was afraid to finish it.
- 17A: "___ to Power" (Frederick J. Sheehan's exposé of Alan Greenspan) (PANDERER) — don't like fill-in-the-blanks this long. Also, this feels an axe-to-grind clue. Dislike.
- 30A: Traditional gathering place in old Europe (INN) — ??? "old Europe" is pretty vague and INN is pretty common. This clue is trying too hard.
- 31A: Literary character whose first word is "'Sblood" (IAGO) — four letter, Shakespearean English, kind of a gimme.
- 41A: New Age mecca in the Southwest (SEDONA) — didn't know it was a mecca. It looks gorgeous and I want to go to there.
- 52A: Interior designer Aarnio (EERO) — Finnish, four letters, it's Saturday: Ta Da!
- 54A: One of his aliases was Theo. LeSieg (DR. SEUSS) — Just yesterday I was staring at that alias on a book in Barnes & Noble. It was the first time I'd seen it. And now here it is. Hurray, coincidence! (LeSieg is, of course, GEISEL backwards)
- 62A: Philippine port (ILOILO) — Learned this from crosswords. No IDEA what I'd have done at the TUZIGOOT crossing if I hadn't know ILOILO. Geographical cruelty. Surely someone out there got Naticked upside the head by this crossing.
- 26D: The Plame affair, informally (C.I.A. GATE) — Uh, the Plame affair, informally, is called PLAMEGATE. You can look it up.
- 29D: Retired runway model (SST) — not Carol ALT? Huh.
- 35D: Coating of cheese (PARAFFIN) — by which they mean "thing that coats cheese," ugh. Trying Too Hard.
- 42D: Jabber in a mask (EPEEIST) — not sure I like the word, but I loooove the clue.
- 47D: Musical work whose name means "valiant" ("EROICA") — one of the most common musical work names in all of crosswords, so even if you didn't know the info in the clue, a cross or two should've been all you needed.
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