Legendary Gaelic bard / THU 7-7-11 / 1990s TV neighbor / Jiminy Cricket declaration / Mad Money airer / Skilled hoops player slang
Thursday, July 7, 2011
Constructor: Caleb Rasmussen
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: NO U-TURN (35A: Traffic sign literally violated 12 times in this puzzle) — every answer with a "U" in it makes a 90˚ TURN in the grid at that "U" (thus it is "U" TURN, even if it is not a literal 180˚ U-TURN)
Word of the Day: ASK.com (20A: ___.com (Google competitor)) —
Ask (known as Ask Jeeves in the UK) is a Q&A focused search engine founded in 1996 by Garrett Gruener and David Warthen in Berkeley, California. The original software was implemented by Gary Chevsky from his own design. Warthen, Chevsky, Justin Grant, and others built the early AskJeeves.com website around that core engine. Three venture capital firms, Highland Capital Partners, Institutional Venture Partners, and The RODA Group were early investors. Ask.com is currently owned by InterActiveCorp under the NASDAQ symbol IACI. In late 2010, facing insurmountable competition from Google, the company outsourced its web search technology to an unspecified third party and returned to its roots as a question and answer site. Doug Leeds was appointed from president to CEO on January 2011. (wikipedia)
Let me say first off that this puzzle is very clever and largely well put-together. A mild proliferation of ugly little fill means very little in a grid this ambitious. This is why God invented EPIS and INRE. I also have to give this puzzle credit for keeping its secret hidden from me til the bitter end. That is, I had no idea what the theme revealer was until I filled in the very last letter, which was the second "U" in "U-TURN." I got that answers were careening off each other in each of the four quadrants, but I didn't see what was linking them all. After I got GESUNDHEIT, I figured that 7D: Result of being left out in the cold must bend at that same "U". No idea that it would bend at an earlier "U." No idea that the revealer would bend twice (none of the others did).
Overall, I didn't find the puzzle exceedingly challenging ... until I got it right down to 7D and 35A. And I might have pieced it all together much, much more quickly had not two little answers been given insane / dated clues—and both from the same thematic universe. I cannot remember the last time I thought of / saw / heard of either Juno (the ISP) or ASK.com. The idea that ASK.com is, currently, a "Google competitor," is Laughable. Yahoo. Bing. Those can call themselves competitors. I know what the major (and even minor) search engines are because they direct traffic to this blog all day long. I see their names every day. ASK.com is usually so far down my referral list that I never see its name. And Juno. Who the hell uses Juno? Isn't that dial-up? Dial-up still exists? I had AOL for the [Google competitor] and nothing for 26D: Juno, e.g.: Abbr. Not until I ran the alphabet on IS- did hit "P" and remembered the '90s (something I generally hate doing). At that point, I *immediately* discerned GOOSEBUMPS, and then NO U-TURN. First thought: "What!? Those answers don't make U-TURNs! 90˚ turns are not U-TURNs." And then I figured it out. So my "aha" moment came at moment of severe irritation (at the ASK and ISP clues, mostly). But, as I say, conceptually, this is pretty great.
- 4D: Happen again (RECULDER) / 19A: Carry, as a burden (SHOUR); i.e. RECUR and SHOULDER
- 18A: Disagreeably direct (BRURON) / 10D: Transmitter, of sorts (NEUTAL); i.e. BRUTAL and NEURON
- 63A: Birthplace of man stars (NEBUSE) / 49D: Awaken (AROULA); i.e. NEBULA and AROUSE
- 65A: Winter item sold in pairs (EARMURVE) / 42D: Statistical shape (BELLCUFF); i.e. EAR MUFF and BELL CURVE
Skee-Lo - I Wish by christ88
- 54A: "Art is the triumph over ___": John Cheever ("CHAOS") — I don't know. Sometimes art *is* CHAOS.
- 21D: 1990s TV neighbor (KRAMER) — on back-to-back days ... and no one's mentioned "racist tirade" once. Such a forgiving lot.
- 61D: "Thou soft-flowing" stream of literature (AVON) — use of quotation marks in clue feels awkward, but I guess this is a better clue than something about cosmetics or bell-ringers or whatever.