Bygone Acura / WED 4-13-11 / 1987 duet Eric Clapton Tina Turner / Humanoid race in Avatar / McSorley's order / Cultural phenomenon 60s
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Constructor: Elizabeth C. Gorski
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: INTEGRA (36A: Bygone Acura that's involved in a crackup at 17-, 23-, 45- and 55-Across) — phrases containing anagrams of INTEGRA
- RED GRANITE (17A: Wisconsin's state rock)
- TANGIER, MOROCCO (23A: City on the Strait of Gibraltar) [uh ... STRAIT is in the grid (5D) ... unusual oversight]
- TEARING US APART (45A: 1987 duet by Eric Clapton and Tina Turner)
- "YOU INGRATE!" (55A: Rebuke to a thankless wretch)
Word of the Day: P.W. BOTHA (22D: 1980s South African president) —
Pieter Willem Botha (12 January 1916 – 31 October 2006), commonly known as "P. W." and Die Groot Krokodil (Afrikaans for "The Big Crocodile"), was the prime minister of South Africa from 1978 to 1984 and the first executive state president from 1984 to 1989. // Botha was a long-time leader of South Africa's National Party and an advocate of the apartheid system although, while in power, he did make concessions towards human rights. He was also a staunch opponent of Communism. // Early in 1998, when Botha refused to testify at the Mandela government's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, he was supported by the right-wing Conservative Party in his refusal but was fined and given a suspended jail sentence later that year. (wikipedia)
Whoa, this one slapped me around quite badly. First, every single theme answer was either strange or unknown to me. All of them. I'm not sure I knew TANGIER was in MOROCCO. I've certainly never heard of RED GRANITE or this alleged Tina Turner / Eric Clapton duet, "TEARING US APART" ("The song did not crack the US Hot 100"—wikipedia). And I don't think I've heard anyone say "YOU INGRATE!" ... well, ever. Maybe in a 19th century novel. But they all seem like valid answers and they certainly fulfill the theme, which is clever. Long Downs in NW and SE were surprisingly hard to come up with—again, as with theme answers, this was true for All of them. In fact, there was a brief period of time where I wasn't sure I was going to be able to get the NW at all. COHOS plural? (1A: Pacific salmon) Not clear from clue. OPART? (14A: Cultural phenomenon of the '60s) Again, not at All clear from clue. STRAIT? (5D: Naval route) I thought SEAWAY. COROT? (1D: "Woman With a Pearl" painter) He painted that? DODO could've been DOLT (28A: Nitwit), GOO is not a word I'd use to describe melted ice cream (not even close), ORG could've been COM, EDU, etc. (4D: Modern address ending) Seriously, very rough for me. Other parts I breezed through, but that corner, and to a lesser extent the SE corner (PRIORATES?? PEA SALADS??) (33D: Monastic offices + 32D: Vegan side dishes) made this one a tough Wednesday for me. Sassy and skillful enough for me to find it ultimately enjoyable, once I got over my annoyance at the significant slow-down.
Had MAXIM for AXIOM (7D: Truism) and MAY BE for ARE SO (43A: You ___ right!"). Otherwise, everything besides NW/SE corners went down without much of a fight. Really liked the clue on DEAR SANTA (39A: Line that goes to the North Pole?). In fact, besides REPR. (25D: Second ed.), I really liked most of the fill in this puzzle, even the short stuff. Very bouncy stuff (BOING!) even in the tight corners.
- 35A: McSorley's order (ALE) — got this right away, but don't really know what McSorley's is (I'm assuming it's a pub...). McSorley's Old Ale House is, apparently, "the oldest 'Irish' tavern in New York City [...] it was one of the last of the 'Men Only' pubs, only admitting women after legally being forced to do so in 1970" (wikipedia)
- 57A: Ink-colored, in Shakespeare (EBON) — "Rouse up revenge from EBON den with fell Alecto's snake" (Henry IV 2, V.v)
- 37D: Humanoid race in "Avatar" (NAVI) — never seen the movie, but NAVI will always remind me of Angela (aka Puzzle Girl)'s son, who wore his NAVI costume to the National Mall for the "Rally to Restore Sanity" this past October. He was not the most absurd-looking person there. Hell, he's not even the most absurd-looking person in this picture.
- 10D: 1984 best-selling business autobiography ("IACOCCA") — now *that* would be a good name for a city in MOROCCO. IACOCCA, MOROCCO! Just saying it makes me want to go to there.
- 45D: Formerly much-ballyhooed fitness program (TAE BO) — that's a mouthful of weird syllables for a simple TAE BO clue. "Formerly much-ballyhooed" is not a descriptor you see every day.
Oh well. I'll get 'em next week.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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