Telecom giant headquartered Denver / SAT 6-25-11 / Practice with Wheel of Year / Chief Sassacus led one side / Where to get citation while surfing
Saturday, June 25, 2011
Piels Beer, aka Piel Bros. Beer and Piel's Beer, is a regional lager beer, originally brewed in Brooklyn, New York. Located in the East New York section of Brooklyn at 315 Liberty Avenue, it was founded in 1883 by the Piel brothers: Gottfried, Michael and Wilhelm Piel. The soft water from Long Island was preferred by German brewers and Breweries in Brooklyn proliferated at this time. Piels union employees are reputed to have been guaranteed ice cold beer on tap 24 hours a day in their union contract. Piels, in its present incarnation, is generally regarded as an inexpensive beer. (wikipedia)
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Wow, that's a lot of Qs. Impressive. A flamboyant grid with lots to love, chock full o' original, contemporary entries. Hard, but not brutally so. A little heavy on the proper nouns, but I've never been one to complain much about that. The one proper noun that really held me down was one I knew, but sadly couldn't spell correctly: GAUGUIN (7D: Van Gogh threatened him with a a razor blade). I plunked down GAUGHIN, which even now looks strangely right to me. But that "H," lord! Really kept both EMBANK and UNPEGGED (24A: Like some exchange rates) from coming into view. Thank god I'd heard of the PEQUOT WAR (from earlier puzzle experience) (22D: Chief Sassacus led one side in it), or that NE could've been Brutal. That's the answer that forced me to change WIKIPEDIA (which seemed certain) to WIKIQUOTE (27A: Where to get a citation while surfing). PIELS!? (22A: Pabst brand) I accepted that only because it looked vaguely like PILSNER. QUANTA looks like a Latin word I made up (30A: Portions). Still, I think that corner is rough in a wacky, and not a terrible way. There's a difference. Weird, unfamiliar stuff vs. ugly / forced / abbreviated / archaic stuff.
Clue that threw me the most was 43A: Practice with the Wheel of the Year (WICCA). "Wheel of the Year" sounds like an award. Maybe a racing award or something? And "Practice" could be virtually anything. But CLAUDE Rains was a gimme, and the rest of the answers in that section were easy, so WICCA showed up eventually. Significant errors included TUNDRA for AURORA (2D: Polar region phenomenon). Bafflement occurred at CHI SQUARE (which I've heard of but couldn't tell you anything about) (41A: Kind of test associated with the null hypothesis), but *not* at ISOMERS, which I threw down off just the "I" (38D: Atomically related compounds). Two UN-words, you say? A DUE and a DUO, you complain? Don't be such a CALLOW EEL. This grid is nice.
The proper nouns are nicely spread out amongst a broad range of topics, from film to music to literature to commerce. These proper nouns have it all!:
- 16A: Queen with a degree from Princeton (NOOR)—higher education!
- 50A: City where "Smokey and the Bandit" begins (TEXARKANA)—cinema vérité!
- 54A: Pap's son, in literature (HUCK)—rafting!
- 58A: Brand that has Dibs (EDY'S)—dairy products!
- 59A: Telecom giant headquartered in Denver (QWEST)—toothpaste!
- 10D: St. John's is its capital (ANTIGUA)—travel!
- 29D: Pianist Schnabel (ARTUR)—music!
- 35D: Producer for 50 Cent, familiarly (DRE)—doctors!
Plus, the return of AFTA! (10A: English Leather alternative). "AFTA II: The AFTA-party."
- 20A: "Gnarly waves, dude!" ("COWABUNGA!") — fantastic. Reminds me simultaneously of Bart Simpsons and Spicoli from "Fast Times at Ridgemont High":
- 26A: Less like nuts? (SANER) — first answer in the grid. It got me TUNDRA, which, while being wrong, got me DUHS (14A: Interjections from the obtuse).
- 34A: Watt-hour fraction (ERG) — Physics question in three letters? ERG's a good bet.
- 40D: Part of morning dress (SILK HAT) — Nice vanity answer, Barry.
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P.S. And you though *my* critiques of crosswords were sometimes extreme ... I mean, I've said a lot of things, but I don't think I've ever called for the NYT to be shut down: "Kazakh Newspaper in Hot Water over Crossword Clue" (6/25/11)