Soprano Josephine / FRI 7-8-11 / Pearl Fishers soprano / Mowing painter 1907 / Frugivorous creatures sci-fi / Amontillado's darker relative
Friday, July 8, 2011
Oloroso ("scented" in Spanish) is a variety of sherry produced by oxidative aging. It is normally darker than amontillado and has a higher glycerine content, which makes it smoother and less dry. Oloroso is usually dark and nutty. (wikipedia)
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Wow. This is apparently the week of me disliking puzzles by my friends. Ironic that this puzzle had N.C. WYETH in it (3D: "Mowing" painter, 1907). The last Quigley puzzle that had N.C. WYETH in it was the one that caused me to coin the concept of "The Natick Principle" (click on "FAQ," above, and scroll down for full definition) — the "N" in NCWYETH was crossing the "N" in NATICK, resulting in a completely uninferrable cross. Two proper nouns, neither of them super famous (the name WYETH was known to me, this one's exact *initials* were not), crossing at an uninferrable letter. Unfair and thus sucky. So today, in a puzzle that (once again, for a Friday) clearly should have been a Saturday, I was struggling and finally uncovered N.C. WYETH and had a little laugh. But then I was laughing less when I finished the grid but got no "Congratulations" from my software. Uh oh. Error. But where? I tried every fix I could think of, but nothing was working. Cross I was least sure of was SUM / WIIMATE (you can see the problem already) (45D: Modern-day video game controller). SUM had this crappy too-clever clue on it (57A: Plus exercise), and I was not at all certain that SUM worked. But I ran the alphabet there, and nothing. Turns out the error was farther down WIIMATE—at the "A," which is not an "A," but an "O." Yeah, my knowledge of vowels at the end of sherries: not so good. WIIMOTE sounds like "remote," I get it, but a. I've Never heard of it and b. I wanted a word to follow WII, which seems reasonable. That cross is just fatal. I honestly haven't been Naticked in years. And yet here we are.
I liked almost nothing about this puzzle. From start to finish it felt old and clunky, and the clues felt forced. Completely un-BEQ-like. Do any of his puzzles from his website, and you'll know how Off this one is. Again, I think he's giving his cast-offs to the NYT now. I feel like ... he might have sent me a note a couple weeks back saying Will had held on to this puzzle for some ungodly length of time, i.e. he constructed it Years ago. Or maybe I'm imagining that email. To be clear, I was disliking this puzzle the entire time I was doing it, not just at the end when I couldn't finish. That was just the icing. LAICS and LADER are junk I would never expect to see in a BEQ puzzle *unless* they were propping up awesomeness (which they are not today). No idea who LIA (54A: Knight who hosts a country music radio show) or LEILA (30A: "The Pearl Fishers" soprano) or BARSTOW are (55A: Soprano Josephine) [two sopranos? yuck.]. No idea PANJABI was spelled that way (1D: Most-spoken language in Pakistan). ANEAR? A-no. NIC? Oh, -aragua (29A: Córdoba's land: Abbr.). Ugh. Just stay with Cage. What I really liked was the clue on DRAG (26A: What some performers lip-sync in) and the clue on RHOMBUS (24D: Yellow feature of Brazil's flag). But stuff like SAL SODA and IN SCALE and MONACAN just aren't good enough on a Friday for me. Hard and unpleasant? Not a great combination.
- 17A: Crystal-rubbing type (NEW-AGER) — thank god I pulled this one out, because I was struggling up there (last section to get filled in).
- 20A: Tall bloomer with candelabra-shaped branches (SAGUARO) — the cactus. Hard to see because I was convinced that 10D: "Shortfin" or "longfin" fish was TUNA, which obscured the "O" in SAGUARO.
- 38A: Footballer who co-starred in "The Dirty Dozen" (JIM BROWN) — don't remember that. Weird. Shot myself in foot here because of typo in EMO that gave me EMI and put an "I" where BROWN's "O" should be. :(
- 53A: Frugivorous creatures of sci-fi (ELOI) — Ugh. Went with EWOK. That slowed me down.
- 11D: 24th Russian letter (TSE) — ???? Really? People know that? Non-Russians? Dress it up all you want, it's still supercrosswordese.
- 7D: Norway's second-largest city (BERGEN) — Weirdly, I wrote about BERGEN just a few days ago when it showed up on the cover of one of the sleazy vintage paperbacks that I write about at my other blog ("Pop Sensation"). The BERGEN on that cover was actually referring to a county in N.J., but I'd never heard of that BERGEN.