Boon's Animal House buddy / WED 7-27-11 / Indiana Jones accouterment / Visigoth king who sacked Rome / Eerie 1976 movie / City at confluence Ouse Foss
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Constructor: Bill Thompson
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: NOELS (37A: Seasonal songs ... or a hint to 17-, 25-, 46- and 59-Across) — theme answers are familiar phrases where -EL has been removed from end of word in the phrase, creating wacky phrases, which are clued "?"-style
Word of the Day: ALARIC (62A: Visigoth king who sacked Rome) —
Alaric I (Alareiks in the original Gothic) was likely born about 370 on an island named Peuce (the Fir) at the mouth of the Danube in present day Romania. King of the Visigoths from 395–410, Alaric was the first Germanic leader to take the city of Rome. Having originally desired to settle his people in the Roman Empire, he finally sacked the city, marking the decline of imperial power in the west. (wikipedia)
After I got the first theme answer, my thought was "Ugh, NOEL, not this theme again." But when I was done, I looked NOEL up on cruciverb.com, and couldn't find a single puzzle that had used NOEL as a theme answer. This seems impossible. Why do I feel like I've done some version of this puzzle not just once, but many times? Weird. Anyway, not much to say about this except the theme feels pretty tired. Half the theme answers are cute (bottom half), the others, not. With so many -EL words out there that are also words (or names) without the -EL (e.g. BARREL, LAPEL, LABEL, CAMEL, etc.), not sure why those first two theme answers aren't better—or why this wasn't a Sunday-sized theme. Fill on this one is interesting in parts—NEAR THE TOP (27D: In second place, say) and RATIONS OUT (11D: Distributes stingily) are interesting phrases—but there really is far too much dreck. ALARIC over RESEEK (!!?) crossing OLE OLE and multiple WANDAS (48D: Stand-up comic Sykes and others) is super-ugly, as is the multiple OCHERS and REALES (9D: Old Spanish silver coins) crossing the never-lovely EDUCES. But, on the plus side, it's a great puzzle if you're a fan of the word "THE" — three appearances!
- 17A: Groom? (WEDDING CHAP)
- 25A: Verbal exchange about a harsh review? (PAN DISCUSSION)
- 46A: Demand during a roadside negotiation? (THROW IN THE TOW)
- 59A: Stylish Lionel? (MOD TRAIN SET) — "LIONEL" = yet another word that could've been de-EL'd
- 1A: Univ. with the cheer "Roll Tide!" ('BAMA) — obvious even without the long-running ESPN College Gameday ad built around this "cheer."
- 40A: City at the confluence of the Ouse and Foss (YORK) — "Ouse" looks distinctly French, and Foss I've never heard of, so this took some work.
- 50D: Boon's "Animal House" buddy (OTTER) — completely forgot this. Luckily, I got it all from crosses and never even saw the clue.
- 10D: Trademark forfeited by Bayer under the Treaty of Versailles (ASPIRIN) — Bayer = German company.
- 61A: Leandro's love, in a Handel cantata (ERO) — Like HERO but with an ELISION (21A: Will-o'-the-wisp feature)
- CLUEANSWER — COMMENT