Starpeace recorder 1985 / THU 3-3-11 / Language gjuho shqipe / Quested Passage to India woman / Subject of sailor's weather maxim
Thursday, March 3, 2011
Constructor: David J. Kahn
Relative difficulty: Challenging
THEME: ANDREW JACKSON/JOHNSON (39A: Either of the two presidents who also served as a 17-Across (U.S. SENATOR) from 62-Across (TENNESSEE)) — central answer in the puzzle works whether you choose JOHNSON or JACKSON
Word of the Day: Gilbert ADAIR (60A: Gilbert ___, author of "A Void," a 290-page novel without the letter E) —
Gilbert Adair (born 29 December 1944 in Edinburgh) is a Scottish author, film critic and journalist. He won the Author's Club First Novel Award in 1988 for his novel The Holy Innocents. In 1995 he won the Scott Moncrieff Translation Prize for his book A Void, which is a translation of the French book La Disparition by Georges Perec. The original book contains no instances of the letter e; Adair translated it with the same limitation. His works are compared to those of Julian Barnes, A. S. Byatt and Patrick Gale. [so ... more "translator" than "author" ... not that knowing that would've helped me one whit] (wikipedia)
Another tricky DJK tour de force. This one was tough all over for me, and it was not until the bitter end that I figured out what was supposed to be happening in the central answer ("'Either of the two...?' But ... no two presidents had the same names ... except ADAMS ... JOHN ADAMS ... well that's not right"). My version went with ANDREW JOHNSON because I came at the last name from 33D: It's rich in sugar (CANE/CAKE), and I wanted CANE from the second I got the "C." HOOK came easily too (41D: Captain James of the high seas). Only problem was BOLLS, which looked so wrong (37D: Cotton ___) ... and yet I knew that "boll weevils" were a thing ... a bug ... that gets after cotton? Seemed OK. Turned out to be right (though, curiously, my software recognized only JACKSON as "correct").
I had to struggle at least a little in nearly every part of the grid. The worst part was the NW, where TURKEY for IGUANA (1D: Creature with a dewlap) started things badly, and then, later, INCHES for LOSSES (2D: The "5" in "6-5," e.g.) really put me in a hole. Wanted GO IT ALONE early on (14A: Act independently) but INCHES said nay. Finally figured out the theme answer must be U.S. SENATOR, dumped INCHES, and it all fell into place quickly. Wanted YALE at 9D: School whose 1910 football team went undefeated and unscored upon (NAVY). Never heard of either of the literary characters (ADELA or ABBIE) (16A: ___ Quested, "A Passage to India" woman / 42A: Wife in "O'Neill's "Desire Under the Elms") or the so-called "author" of "A Void" (ADAIR). But I nailed IMO with no crosses (61D: Start of many a blog comment), even though no one ever starts comments on my blog that way, and that little answer helped make the SW the easiest quadrant by far. SE was also doable (learned "jipijapa" from an earlier puzzle, which helped). Really the NW and the eastern middle that held me up the most. I enjoyed figuring this one out, and had a genuine aha moment at the end. This is very much in the mold of the famous CLINTON / BOBDOLE puzzle of election day 1996 (wherein either answer worked and the clue was something like [Winner of today's election]). That puzzle spooked people. I doubt this one will have the same effect. But it's still pretty dang good.
- 24A: Food sometimes eaten with a small fork (OYSTER) — Had the "O," wanted OMELET (?)
- 32A: Year the first Tour de France was held (MCMIII) — if you gotta have a giant Roman numeral, it should at least have an interesting clue like this (one that was actually semi-helpful in getting at least the first three letters)
- 52A: Subject of a sailor's weather maxim (RED SKY) — at night, sailor's delight. This confirmed COOK for me. I mean HOOK. I think.
- 7D: "Starpeace" recorder, 1985 (ONO) — knew it, somehow—possibly from the three letters, possibly from having seen it in xwords before, and possibly for the vaguely ONOish-sounding quality of "Starpeace"; give starpeace a chance, man.
- 11D: Real-life character in the 1950 western "Broken Arrow" (GERONIMO) — strangely, I think the first answer that popped into my head was RED ADAIR. He was real, and there was at least one movie based on his exploits...
- 12D: Language known to native speakers as "gjuho shqipe" (ALBANIAN) — Whoa. Whoa. That is possibly the weirdest-looking language I've ever seen. Needed many crosses, the most helpful of which was the "B" from VERBS (18A: Come and go, e.g.)
- 27D: 1940 Henry Fonda role (TOM JOAD) — I prefer the 1968 Henry Fonda role of "Frank" in "Once Upon a Time in the West"
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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