Marco Island locale / WED 3-16-11 / What's in carrots not celery / Morlocks victims / Modern screening device / Meal with Four Questions
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Constructor: Alan Arbesfeld
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: FULL-COUNT PITCH (59A: With 61-Across, follower of the five starred clues) — Starred clues are "three BALLs and two STRIKEs," which, in baseball, is known as a FULL COUNT. What "follows" a 3-2 count? A FULL-COUNT PITCH, though ... I don't know what part of this puzzle represents the "pitch," exactly
Word of the Day: EILAT (51D: Israeli seaport) —
Eilat [...] is Israel's southernmost city, a busy port as well as a popular resort, located at the northern tip of the Red Sea, on the Gulf of Eilat (or Gulf of Aqaba). Home to 46,600 people, the city is part of the Southern Negev Desert, at the southern end of the Arava. The city is adjacent to the Egyptian village of Taba to the south, the Jordanian port city of Aqaba to the east, and within sight of Saudi Arabia to the south-east, across the gulf. Eilat's arid desert climate is moderated by proximity to a warm sea. Temperatures often exceed 40 °C (104 °F) in summer, and 21 °C (70 °F) in winter, while water temperatures range between 20 and 26 °C (68 and 79 °F). The city's beaches, nightlife and desert landscapes make it a popular destination for domestic and international tourism. (wikipedia)
There's a good idea here somewhere, but I don't quite understand how the theme revealer makes sense. Something "follows" the "starred clues"? In theory, or in actuality? I'm guessing the former, since the clues themselves can't be the "PITCH," and I don't see a "PITCH" anywhere else. Also, FULL-COUNT PITCH only works if it's imagined as a "follower" of the starred clues *taken as a set*, which is not clear from the wording of the clue. Add in the odd visual placement of the revealer (PITCH behind, i.e. to the left of, FULL-COUNT), and the whole "reveal" moment feels clunky as all-get-out. But it's always possible there's some brilliance I just don't see. Puzzle felt super-easy except for the far south (the CURIAE section), which took probably a third of my total time. I've seen CURIAE before, but couldn't dredge it up. Ditto EILAT. Took me a while to deduce COMEDIENNE—always tricky to figure out the answers in these reverse-clue-type theme answers (i.e. where the clue is the answer and the answer is the clue). "Answers" never quite feel natural (e.g. BOWLER'S ... COUP? OK. Not a phrase that trips off the tongue, but accurate enough). Not much else to say... no great answers. Not much dreck. Just a theme that feels wonky to me.
- 17A: *Ball (GREAT TIME)
- 24A: *Strike (WORK STOPPAGE)
- 29A: *Ball (LAVISH PARTY)
- 40A: *Strike (BOWLER'S COUP)
- 46A: *Ball (TV COMEDIENNE)
- 26A: What's in carrots but not celery? (HARD C) — old trick, though I considered other letters before realizing it was the first one.
- 62A: Marco Island locale: Abbr. (FLA) — All the answers I didn't know were in one place: CURIAE, EILAT, FLA, DUFFY (this last one was particularly confusing, since Julia is also the name of a *character* in "Designing Women": Julia Sugarbaker, played by the late, great Dixie Carter (49D: Julia of "Designing Women")).
- 47D: Modern screening device (V-CHIP) — I've never seen one of these in action, so the answer rarely occurs to me right away.
- 66A: Meal with the Four Questions (SEDER) — I've been to precisely one SEDER, 22 years ago. Memorable enough for me to get this with only the slightest hesitation.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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