Minor despot / MON 1-10-11 / Scottish hillside / Highway route through Whitehorse Yukon / Ancient Asia Minor region
Monday, January 10, 2011
Constructor: James Tuttle
Relative difficulty: Challenging
THEME: Follow THE BOUNCING BALL — two 13-letter answers (KARAOKE SCREEN, PING PONG TABLE) are clued as places "to follow the object named in the circled letters"—circled letters spell out THE BOUNCING BALL, and form a series of arcs that looks vaguely like the path of said ball
Word of the Day: SATRAP (52D: Minor despot) —
Satrap (Persian: ساتراپ) was the name given to the governors of the provinces of the ancient Median and Achaemenid (Persian) Empires and in several of their successors, such as the Sassanid Empire and the Hellenistic empires. // The word satrap is also often used in modern literature to refer to world leaders or governors who are heavily influenced by larger world superpowers or hegemonies and act as their surrogates. (wikipedia)
As for the theme, it's cute, but supremely thin (even counting the circled letters). As for KARAOKE SCREENs (odd phrase, not nearly as in-the-language as, say, KARAOKE BAR) ... do their balls bounce that way? That is, does the height of the ball change as much as it does in this grid's rendering? Just a question, not a criticism of the concept. Pics I'm seeing online feature text that changes color, not text with a bouncing ball. Never having participated in KARAOKE, I can't comment on the finer points of the tech involved. This puzzle feels a bit like editorial kissing-up, as Will Shortz is well known as a PING PONG enthusiast (not just in a rec room kind of way—he competes at a pretty high level, as I understand it). At any rate, it's nice to have a gimmick puzzle to shake things up on a Monday. Wasn't crazy about it, but it's at least far more memorable than a lot of early-week fare.
- 6A: Air passage (DUCT) — botched this one too. Had VENT.
- 24A: Hannibal ___, vice president under Abraham Lincoln (HAMLIN) — brain went immediately to LECTER. That's a mildly tough trivia clue. Pied piper clue deemed too remedial, Harry HAMLIN clue deemed too dated, apparently.
- 54A: Old-fashioned paper copies (DITTOS) — whoa, I don't think I've seen or heard that word since elementary school.
- 60D: WXY, on a phone (NINE) — my favorite number! And it's a telephone keypad clue?! Ted Williams is rolling over in his grave.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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