Some nonnative Hawaiians / SAT 7-2-11 / Don Juan's self-description / Bootlegger's bugbear / Stage name entertainer Stanley Burrell David Adkins
Saturday, July 2, 2011
: prepared as in home cooking —often used postpositively
bonne femme> (merriam-webster.com)
• • •Did this one sitting on the couch, during commercial breaks in "Louie" (which is soooo good, btw). Had NW and the central Down, GOD'S GIFT TO WOMEN (8D: Don Juan's self-description), completed in about 1:10. Paused to watch TV. At about 3:40 I had better than half the puzzle done, and was well on my way to a near-record time. Then I hit the SW and the difficulty pendulum swung back the other way, hard. But I still ended well under 10, which is somewhat better than average for me, I think, on Saturdays. Overall, I really liked this one. The two stage name clues at the bottom were nasty (who knows SINBAD's and MC HAMMER's real names!?!? And neither of them has been big for 15-20 years, so ... ouch) (56A: Stage name of entertainer David Adkins + 58A: Stage name of entertainer Stanley Burrell), but the answers they point to are just fine. There is very little junk in this grid, and so much to love. When you keep the ugly stuff small and spread out in late-week puzzles, then you're doing great. I can handle INE and LEK (28D: Coin whose original portrait was Alexander the Great) and ANI when they are anchoring big, solid answers. It's when you get answers like that in a grouping that I start to lose my mind a little.
The 15s came shockingly easily, and I got PARISIAN just from the clue on SES (31A: 38-Down, to a 14-Down). In general, I just flew through this. So what happened in the SE? Well, MC- could've been anyone, as far as I knew, and EH- looked wrong (61A: Chemistry Web site? => E-HARMONY). Plus the clue, with its capital "Web" separated from "site," was messed up. Is that standard spelling of "website" for the NYT? Capital-W "Web" space "site?" I thought "Chemistry Web" was a name, and, honestly, besides EHUD BARAK, nothing begins "EH-," so I ground to a halt. Without crosses, nothing inside that secluded NW was revealing itself to me. Finally noticed 45D: Young follower and got it almost instantly (MORMON). This helped get me NONSENSE, and then the corner started to come together. All of my never-heard-ofs are clustered down here. Bonne FEMME? No. BEREA? It's a college in Kentucky to me (55A: Where Paul and Silas were sent, in Acts). PREENS? I know the in-front-of-the-mirror preening, but not the bird-pokes-a-hole-in-something preening (46D: Runs a bill through). Oh, crap—"runs through" like you run a comb through something? Is that really how birds PREEN? #$*&!. I know HAN Chinese as an ethnic group, but had no idea about the "characters" (59D: ___ characters (common Chinese writing)). And I already told you I didn't know MC HAMMER's real name, so ... that was rough. But gettable. Whole puzzle probably should've been a little more like that, but I have a hard time complaining about acing a Saturday, esp. one as nice as this one.
- 1A: Makeshift mask (PAPER BAG) — most familiar to me from fans of terrible sports teams. New Orleans Saints fans were famous for them, I think, back before they won a Super Bowl (when they were the "AIN'Ts").
- 24A: "Mama's Special Garden" brand (RAGU) — isn't that the title of a book of women's sexual fantasies. Oh, sorry, that's "My Secret Garden." Nevermind.
- 25A: Old Maltese money (LIRAS) — No idea Malta had this currency.
- 27A: March Madness souvenir (NET) — gimme. Champs cut 'em down at the end.
- 28A: Literature's Dolores Haze, familiarly (LOLITA) — toooo easy. I read and led discussion on this book in my senior seminar at college (coincidentally, the same college today's constructor goes to). Horrible stupid person in the class got all pretend-feminist and shut down conversation by getting all audibly offended that anyone should have to read such a horrible story. Rest of the class just sort of sat around not sure what to do. This was a memorable early teaching failure for me. Really shaped my future teaching style (encourage discussion, especially dissent, but crush idiocy in the cradle and do not lose your spine).
- 41A: Tag for some grandchildren (III) — wanted IMP.
- 62A: Faulkner family name (SNOPES) — I'm sure Joel is a well-read kid, but there is no way this was his clue. As someone well under a million years old, he'd surely have gone with the online myth-debunking website, which is name-checked in this epic new Weird Al song:
- 9D: Bootlegger's bugbear (T-MAN) — about to read Daniel Okrent's "Last Call," all about Prohibition. Can't wait. Might teach it in my Crime Fiction ('20s-'30s) course this fall. Important historical context.
- 24D: Violinists' cake ingredients (ROSINS) — Mmm, cake.
- 26D: Some nonnative Hawaiians (ISSEI) — First guess: NENES!
- 31D: Most Prestwick patrons (SCOTS) — Glasgow.
- 34D: Fallacious reasoners (SOPHISTS) — I really like the word SOPHISTRY. It's a very useful word to know. I use it often (mostly in my head or when I'm talking to myself about politics, but I think that counts).
- 44D: Vaquero's charge (RANCHO) — was reading about cattle industry earlier in the day, which somehow made me remember what "vaquero" means more quickly than I might have otherwise.