Santos rookie of 1956 / SAT 1-15-11 / Arizona National Monument Pueblo ruins / Byzantine weaving output / 1954 Patti Page hit / Port on Panay Gulf
Saturday, January 15, 2011
The Wupatki National Monument is a National Monument located in north-central Arizona, near Flagstaff. Rich in Native American ruins, the monument is administered by the National Park Service in close conjunction with the nearby Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument. [...] Wupatki was first inhabited around 500CE. A major population influx began soon after the eruption of Sunset Crater in the 11th century (between 1040-1100), which blanketed the area with volcanic ash; this improved agricultural productivity and the soil's ability to retain water. By 1182, about 85 to 100 people lived at Wupatki Pueblo and by 1225, the site was permanently abandoned. It was a 100-room pueblo with a community room and ball court; making it the largest building for nearly fifty miles. (wikipedia)
• • •Barry Silk appears to have gone on a trip to Arizona some time in the past few years and just collected a boatload of crazyass names to put into puzzles. As I looked at the clue for WUPATKI (about which I had no clue at all), I recalled another puzzle with an Arizona monument of some kind, and an equally strange-looking name. Turns out—that was yet another Barry Silk puzzle. That time, it was TUZIGOOT. I get that these words are awesome from a letter-by-letter perspective, but enough. I tend to dislike uninferrable, semi-obscure trivia (esp. with names from other languages, and today had a few such answers: WUPATKI, ILOILO (39D: Port on the Panay Gulf), NIDRE (51A: Kol ___ (Yom Kippur prayer)) ... I got bitten by ILOILO once a few years back, so I could guess (guess!) that one OK, but I know most folks won't know it). Overall, this is pretty tepid as Silk puzzles go. No long answers that really sing. Big chunks of white, mostly adequately filled, but ... that's all. Just adequate. Really liked LIKE I CARE (18A: "Whatever") and (for some reason) T-MINUS (42D: Countdown term), but nothing else had much energy.
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Don't know what a MINI-SKI is (16D: Bit of bunny slope gear). I'm guessing it's a miniature ski. I had SNOW SKI. Shakespeare familiarized me with the word DAMASK, so DAMASKS was easy enough to get to (29A: Byzantine weaving output). I was lucky to have ESPNZONE be a gimme (2D: Sports-themed restaurant chain) (first word in the grid, with no crosses—then straight to AZALEA, which I knew was poisonous—22A: Plant toxic to sheep and goats—because my sister and I once used them as drink garnishes at my dad's big radiology pig roast backyard party. Someone eventually informed us that maybe that wasn't such a good idea). AVEO is nice and contemporary, as short fill goes (47D: Chevy model), though everything around it is kind of yucky. I couldn't make a lick of sense out of the clue at 6D: Santos rookie of 1956. What the hell is a "Santos rookie?" I wondered. Is "Santos" a place? A team? A state of mind? Turns out, yes, it's a Brazilian football team. Four letters ending in "E" and a vaguely South American-sounding name in the clue had me thinking PELE early on, and once WOK went in (8D: Food is often tossed in it) and PAWS followed (6A: They have soles), I knew he was the right answer. The 1978 at-bats leader, however ... yeesh (28A: Cabell who was the 1978 at-bats leader). That clue makes me laugh. If ever there was a record no one cares about... You know the dude is marginal when the best stat they've got on him is "at-bats leader one year." Poor ENOS.
- 1A: Notes' counterparts (RESTS) — went looking for some catchy phrase like "notes & ___" or "___ & notes." Found neither. Clue refers to musical notation.
- 15A: Growing part of the economy (E-COMMERCE) — sees true enough, though the clue is odd, in that it's true enough now, I guess, but vague, and maybe won't always be true. Just seems like the clue could've been snazzier. And tighter.
- 21A: Nuprin alternative (ANACIN) — "Nuprin" feels like a blast from the past. Then again, so does ANACIN. It's all Advil in this house.
- 5D: Passer and blocker's teammate (SETTER) — wanted SEEKER until I realized that I was thinking of Quidditch.
- 12A: 1954 Patti Page hit, whose title is sung three times before "Please, don't go" ("I CRIED") — god, that song must be pathetic. Let's see... hmmm, can't find it, so here's Justin Timberlake instead (roughly equivalent, right?):
- 26D: Priority box offerer (GMAIL) — easy enough, as my University switched to GMAIL last year. "Offerer" is a funny word.
- 36D: Eater seater, sometimes (HOSTESS) — "She was a one-eyed, one-horned, flying purple eater seater." Where have you gone, Sheb Wooley?
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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PS any bets on how long until the first appearance of REINCE or PRIEBUS or REINCEPRIEBUS in the grid?