City known as Salisbury until 1982 / FRI 3-18-11 / Carpaccio base / Pretty ballerina in Abba song / Jules Verne harpooner Land
Friday, March 18, 2011
The Hec Crighton Trophy was presented to the Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union in 1967 by the board of directors of the Canadian College Bowl, to be awarded annually to the athlete deemed to be the most outstanding university football player in Canada. The trophy is named after the late Hec Crighton, who was a coach, referee and teacher, and author of the CIAU Rule Book and the Official Football Rule Book. The first recipient of the Hec Crighton Trophy in Canada's Centennial Year of 1967 was Mike Eben of the University of Toronto. Like Eben, most winners have gone on to professional careers in the Canadian Football League. The 1987 winner was Jordan Gagner of the UBC Thunderbirds. St Mary's Huskies quarterback Chris Flynn became the first player to win the award 3 times (1988-90). Two-time recipients in the 1990s were the University of Western Ontario's Tim Tindale (1991, 1994) and Eric Lapointe of the Mount Allison Mounties (1996, 1998). (The Canadian Encyclopedia)
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A bit out of my wheelhouse much of the time, but a fine puzzle overall, I think. I especially admire SLOW NEWS DAY (6D: When there's nothing doing) and HIGH AS A KITE (24D: Wasted) — always good to go for fresh, original material in your themelesses, I think. Screw low word counts—give me a lively, well-filled, interesting grid over a stunt grid any day of the week (well, especially Friday and Saturday). Weirdly uneven solving experience today, as I destroyed the NW corner in a matter of seconds only to peter out completely in the middle. Then GENII (48D: Guardian spirits) gave me the entire SE corner pretty quickly, and I sort of hacked my way slowly through the W and SW, ending up in the central NE (which was the toughest part of the grid for me by far). The "L" in LEERS AT / BALE was the last letter in. I couldn't see how a BALE was a [Farm delivery] (wanted FOAL or CALF) and the "Surveys" in the LEERS AT clue was a total curve ball (18A: Surveys, usually with negative responses). Thought it was a noun. Then thought it was a verb relating to the asking of questions. Bah. I think the lynchpin up in that areas was HEC (not great to have such a terrible piece of fill be such a crux, but oh well). *If* that had been remotely gettable, I would finished much sooner ("C" and "H" would have been valuable, answer-revealing letters). But no. Though BELIED was DENIED, though CHARIOT was ... uh, CHORIST? (38A: Part of an ancient procession) Is that a thing? Couldn't see how PIE was an [Organizational figure], and don't know TOE-IN as [Wheel alignment]. So, yeah, that whole big white area was rough. If only I could have come up with KEELHAULS sooner (29A: Severely rebukes), but the damned "H" was hidden, and the "K" took me forever—KOREAN is [Ethnic cuisine]? I mean, yes, it is. But clue may as well have been [Random ethnicity]. Boo to clue. But I'm basically at the stage where I'm getting annoyed at any clue that makes me work for more than a few seconds—I'm heading to the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament (ACPT) tomorrow, and I'm in fighting mode. Any answer I can't knock to the floor instantly only *$&%es me off.
Apparently I don't know what "carpaccio" is, as RAW FISH came into view while I furrowed my brow and silently said "huh" to myself (1A: Carpaccio base, maybe). I think I thought it was something to do with mozzarella and basil and tomato. Or maybe some kind of deli meat. Turns out carpaccio is raw meat / fish pounded flat and served as appetizer. Didn't like FLANS as a plural and especially didn't like the CREME tie-in. CREME is an Oreo word. Never seen it anywhere near a FLAN (or a flock of FLANS, for that matter) (4D: 23-Down caramel desserts) [wait: I know "crème caramel'=FLAN in French, but if that's the way "CREME" is being used here, then "desserts" seems redundant. Like [Gateaux desserts] for "CAKES"]. Loved the clue on HARARE (7D: City known as Salisbury until 1982), but mainly just loved that I had heard of HARARE before—only city I could think of that started HAR- in six letters. Heard of NED Land (47A: Jules Verne harpooner ___ Land), but never heard of NINA the ballerina. Heard of Fernando ... and Chiquitita ... but NINA? Looks like "NINA, Pretty Ballerina"'s great claim to fame is that it "reached #8 on the singles chart in Austria" (wikipedia). That's some serious pop cred right there. I guess the puzzle needed an answer that would make GINO Vennelli look well and truly famous (48A: Singer Vannelli of 1970s-'80s pop).
- 16A: He succeeded to the Chrysanthemum Throne in 1989 (AKIHITO) — the current Emperor. Dismal times for Japan right now.
- 25A: Ulysses S. Grant was its eighth pres. (NRA) — figured it probably wasn't CSA, and this seemed the most natural option.
- 28A: State sch. in Kingston (URI) — So ... not Jamaica?
- 52A: Standard with the lyric "Ain't these tears in my eyes tellin' you?" ("AM I BLUE?") — I learned this song from a TV ad in the 70s/80s, but which one I cannot remember. It's kind of killing me right now, actually.
- 59A: Beady-eyed and sneaky (RAT-LIKE) — seems right.
- 26D: Home to more than 5 1/2 million Arabs (BAGHDAD, IRAQ) — this is how I ended up changing DENIED to BELIED—solving this answer from the bottom up.
- 53D: La ___ (Hollywood nickname) (LIZ) — I've also seen this moniker applied to crossword constructing legend LIZ Gorski. Like the little pair of Old Hollywood answers down here (LIZ next to a Marilyn-strummed UKE) (54D: Marilyn Monroe played one in "Some Like It Hot").
P.S. I have somehow not made any arrangements to have someone cover blogging for me the next couple of days (I'll be in Brooklyn, as I indicated above), so ... whatever you get will be a surprise, to me as well as you.
P.P.S. I have today's Wall Street Journal puzzle ... ooh, look, it's already up. Download a .pdf version here.
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