Physical feature Britain's Lord Nelson / WED 2-9-11 / 1930s org with blue eagle logo / Richard nominated seven Oscars / Distant relative of Monterey
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Constructor: Victor Barocas
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: SKIPJACK (46A: Certain tuna ... or what this puzzle's 10 starred clues do) — clues are missing "Jack"
Word of the Day: Natter[jack] (12D: *Natter, e.g.=>TOAD) —
The Natterjack Toad (Epidalea calamita, formerly Bufo calamita) is a toad native to sandy and heathland areas of Northern Europe. Adults are 60 – 70 mm in length and are distinguished from the common toad by a yellow line down the middle of the back. They have relatively short legs, and this gives them a distinctive gait, contrasting with the hopping movement of many other toad species. // Natterjacks have a very loud and distinctive mating call, amplified by the single vocal sack found under the chin of the male animal. (wikipedia)
[H]ere is a man who wants the public for the mystery story in its
primitive violence and also wants it to be clear that he,
individually, is a highly literate and sophisticated character. A
car is "acned with rust", not spotted [...] "The seconds piled up
precariously like a tower of poker chips", etc. The simile that does
not quite come off because it doesn't understand what the purpose of
the simile is [...] When you say "spotted with rust" (or pitted, and
I'd almost but not quite go for"pimpled") you convey at once a
simple visual image. But when you say "acned with rust" the
attention of the reader is instantly jerked away from the thing
described to the pose of the writer. This is of course a very simple
example of the stylistic misuse of language, and I think that
certain writers are under a compulsion to write in recherche phrases
as a compensation for a lack of some kind of natural animal emotion.
They feel nothing, they are literary eunuchs, and therefore
they fall back on an oblique terminology to prove their
distinction. (letter to James Sandoe, April 14, 1949)
So much of the rest of the grid was quite lovely. [Palace-related] is a weak and unnecessarily oblique clue for ROYAL, but other than that, I don't have many (non-theme-related) complaints. HALF DEAD is a very nice entry (23A: How a hangover sufferer might feel).
- 16A: *Cracker feature (TOY SURPRISE)
- 33A: *Union, e.g. (FLAG)
- 40A: *It's bad when it knifes (SEMI)
- 56A: *Flap (GRIDDLECAKE)
- 10D: *Daniel's home (TENNESSEE)
- 12D: *Natter, e.g. (TOAD)
- 22D: *Start of the name (CAPITAL J) — last reason to dislike this one: we already have "the name" JACK in one of the other clues (10D)
- 24D: *Necessitator (FLAT TIRE) — last reason to dislike this one: "Necessitator!?"
- 32D: *Black (TWENTY-ONE)
- 51D: *Distant relative of Monterey (BRIE) — or EDAM, I suppose. Nice to have flexibility with a lot of these answers...
Started with a miscue: HUGH for CARY (1A: Grant for a movie?). That is a Not Great "?"-clue, as its trick is transparent and the phrase "Grant for a movie" doesn't really play on words very well. I had no idea Richard BURTON was Oscar-nominated so many times (14A: Richard nominated for seven Oscars). I can't name anything he was in except "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" Not sure which org. NRA is supposed to be today (18A: 1930s org. with a blue eagle logo). Aha, National Recovery Administration. All that alphabet soup stuff, except TVA and WPA, eludes me. SIMPSON was right up my alley (27A: Springfield family name), but when was the last time TAE BO was "much-advertised" (41A: Much-advertised exercise program)? I haven't seen Billy Blanks in an ad for what seems like a decade. I'm sure he's still out there, but I don't see him. E*TRADE was a welcome gimme (60A: Nasdaq company with an asterisk in its name), though I always want that asterisk to have its own square ... that would be an interesting puzzle. It could cross *NSYNC.
I thought the bad thing to be over was a BARREL :(
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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