Orphan girl in Byron's Don Juan / SUN 7-24-11 / Northernmost borough of London / Vast in verse / Noted 1991 Harvard law grad
Sunday, July 24, 2011
Constructor: Kurt Mueller
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: "Nine of Diamonds" — nine baseball phrases, which are clued as wacky non-baseball phrases (baseball is played on a diamond—hence the puzzle title)
Word of the Day: IDEOGRAM (84D: Emoticon, e.g.) —
An ideogram or ideograph (from Greek ἰδέα idea "idea" + γράφω grafo "to write") is a graphic symbol that represents an idea or concept. Some ideograms are comprehensible only by familiarity with prior convention; others convey their meaning through pictorial resemblance to a physical object, and thus may also be referred to as pictograms. (wikipedia)
Once again it's hot and once again I'm tired (more so), so this time the write-up really will be short. This puzzle should break hard, difficulty-wise, depending on whether you're a baseball fan or not. Once I caught onto the theme, I needed only a cross or two to get most of the remaining theme answers. Not much challenge. In fact, I finished this in 7:35, which is about a minute and a half faster than my previous NYT Sunday record. That ENFIELD (77A: Northernmost borough of London)/ NGO (78D: Vietnam's ___ Dinh Diem) section gave me a little fright (don't know either), but the fill and cluing elsewhere were a cinch. I barely noticed most of the theme answers, so my attention went more to the fill. There wasn't a lot to love—IDEOGRAM and RUBS IT IN (51D: Adds insult to injury, say) are OK, but otherwise, not much stands out. STOOP TO (82D: Reach at a lower level) is awkward as a stand-alone phrase; SPEWERS would be unfortunate in the singular—it's worse in the plural (24D: Some volcanoes); and CCC is just ... I don't know what (62D: Junk bond rating). But aside from an ENORM (77D: Vast, in verse) here and a NOSER there (91A: Brown-___) , everything seemed fine. Forgettable, adequate, fine. The theme concept is kind of cute—I just wish there'd been more resistance in this thing.
- 23A: Cuts in a cardboard container? (BOX SCORES)
- 31A: Yelled initially? (CALLED OUT AT FIRST)
- 44A: So-so formal dance? (FAIR BALL)
- 46A: Went far too slowly during the 10K? (WALKED IN A RUN)
- 63A: Piece of black-market playground equipment (SWING FOR THE FENCES)
- 83A: Wool or cotton purchase request? (BATTING ORDER)
- 85A: Disgusting advice? (FOUL TIPS)
- 98A: Whiskey bottle dregs? (BOTTOM OF THE FIFTH)
- 113A: Nobleman after a banquet? (FULL COUNT)
- 37A: 26 of the 44 U.S. presidents: Abbr. (ATTYS.) — interesting stat, but that doesn't quite make up for the ugliness of ATTYS.
- 58A: Arizona is the only state to have one (ZEE) — fantastic clue.
- 107A: Coporate shake-up, for short (REORG) — one of my least favorite crosswordisms, but I used it once, so I can't complain too much.
- 114A: Rita Hayworth's femme fatale title role of 1946 ("GILDA") — an early and important movie in the film noir canon.
- 118A: Toothpaste brand once advertised as having the secret ingredient GL-70 (GLEEM) — guessed it off the "M" but had no idea about the advertising claim.
- 13D: Orphan girl in Byron's Don Juan (LEILA) — yuck. Make it Ali or don't make it at all.
- 99D: Noted 1991 Harvard Law grad (OBAMA) — see ATTYS., above
- 2D: Perform Hawaiian music, say (CROON) — I was utterly unaware that Hawaiian music had anything to do with crooning.
- 98D: Confederate general who won at Chickamauga (BRAGG) — must be the guy the Fort is named after. The only BRAGG I know (very well) is Billy:
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld