Composer known as Red Priest / FRI 6-24-11 / Old Go from flat to fluffy sloganeer / Rapid descent on skis / Beatles song complaining title
Friday, June 24, 2011
iTunes Plus - iTunes Plus is the name for the option in iTunes that allows customers to buy music at the iTunes Store that is free from digital rights management, or DRM. (about.com)
• • •My first response on hearing that we would have yet another debut from yet another teenage boy going to yet another Ivy League School = yawn. Yes, it's impressive, but the NYT has a young smart boy fetish that I find a little creepy. It's cool to see young people getting into constructing, in that it gives a glimmer of hope that the craft might survive another generation (despite the fact that the main vehicle for the visibility / promotion of the crossword, the dead-tree newspaper, will be extinct in ... 3, 2, 1 ...). But I don't care if you are 15 and making your NYT crossword debut and going to Harvard in the fall (as this kid is, according to a tweet from Will Shortz that I read yesterday—yes, he's tweeting now, @Will_Shortz). I care only if your puzzle is good. And guess what. This puzzle isn't good. . . (wait for it) ... it's great.
Here's what I didn't like: the clue on ITUNESPLUS. It's a format, not a place, so the "Where" doesn't make any sense to me. The "Where" is still the ITUNESSTORE, which I tried to squeeze into the space provided—not hard if you imagine that ITUNES and STORE share an "S" in the official corporate name. I mean, they don't, but you can imagine they do. Anyway, aside from that, I haven't got a single complaint about this thing. I think I literally said "Wow" upon piecing together the NW. Such great, fresh, colloquial phrases ... and a track off the White Album (17A: Beatles song with a complaining title=>"I'M SO TIRED"). The SE corner is almost as good. I CALLED IT! (63A: "Told you so!") This puzzle just has a great SENSE of the language, as it's used, by human beings, many of them (gasp) under 40. And yet the puzzle didn't feel unduly teeny. Teen-y. Wow, I tried to invent an adjective there and instead just duplicated a word that already existed and means something irrelevant. OK, then. What I'm saying is that with perhaps the exception of CHILL PILL (65A: Remedy for a tizzy), everything in here should be at least vaguely familiar to someone who follows the news and gets out from time to time.
I would complain about two forms of the word SEX being in the same puzzle, but I can't bring myself to complain about getting SEX twice. I just can't. (8D: Type of reproduction + 21D: Titillating transmissions) Besides, the words that share SEX are totally unrelated. At least I assume they are. Are there such things as ASEXUAL SEXTS? "What r u wearing? I'm wearing tunic & cowl. Chastity is hawt."
The NE was hardest for me, mostly because of ITUNESPLUS but somewhat because of WINER (total unknown to me, even though he's an executive producer of one of my favorite TV shows, "Modern Family") (16A: Jason who directed 2011's "Arthur") crossing AWACS (which I know *only* because of crossword experience) (10D: ___ plane). That crossing is going to take at least one person down today. Otherwise, this one didn't give me too much trouble. Had some reservations about LADED (wanted LADEN) (26A: Burdened), and wasn't sure what the article was at 27D: "Der Ring ___ Nibelungen" ("DES") (I think of "DES" as French), but DES beat NES and I moved on. Don't particularly like the clue on UNRATED (7D: Like a first-time tournament player, usually). Tourney players are UNRANKED or UNSEEDED. DVD releases of movies with certain naughty bits restored are UNRATED.
- 21A: Rapid descent on skis (SCHUSS) — thought this was just a word for ski. Didn't know "rapid" had anything to do with it.
- 31A: Honorary deg. for many a writer (D.LIT.) — Hmm... sounds vaguely familiar, but I mostly had to infer it. Honorary degrees seem silly to me. Gotta be another way to honor people besides giving them fake degrees.
- 51A: Words accompanying an arrow ("THIS SIDE UP") — Great, though my brain wanted only "THIS END UP" and (initially) gave up when it wouldn't fit.
- 4D: $ $ $ head (CFO) — first answer in the grid.
- 53D: Old "Go from flat to fluffy" sloganeer (PRELL) — Got it off the "R" in 'ENRY. No idea how I knew it. I can't remember if this slogan is from my time or not. . . yep. No wonder it's familiar: it's from that late '70s sweet spot when I was soaking in pop culture like a sponge.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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