Princess in Nintendo game series / THU 8-11-11 / Joint US Canada military org / So-called Family City USA / First major publisher board games US
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Constructor: Parker Lewis
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: SEQUENCEs (3D: Any of the clues for 17-, 34- or 57-Across) — theme answers are formulae; their clues are the SEQUENCEs that result when the VARIABLE is "replaced in turn by 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 ..." (37D: In the answers to 17-, 34- and 57-Across, it was replaced in turn by 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 ...)
Word of the Day: TSWANA (12D: A language of South Africa) —
Tswana or Setswana is a language spoken in Southern Africa by about 4.5 million people. It is a Bantu language belonging to the Niger–Congo language family, and is closely related to the Northern- and Southern Sotho languages, as well as the Kgalagadi language and the Lozi language. // Tswana is an official language and lingua franca of Botswana spoken by almost 1.1 million of its inhabitants. However, the majority of Tswana speakers are found in South Africa where 3.4 million people speak the language. Until 1994, South African Tswana people were notionally citizens of Bophuthatswana, one of the few bantustans that actually became reality as planned by the Apartheid regime. A small number of speakers are also found in Zimbabwe and Namibia, where 29,400 and 12,300 people speak the language, respectively. (wikipedia)
This is a puzzle that is interesting to contemplate after the fact, but a terrible plodding bore to solve. A stunt puzzle that is more about showing off constructor cleverness than providing an entertaining solving experience. It's all number sequences and cross-references and arbitrary formulae. I just didn't care. Ever. I guess the formulae aren't arbitrary, exactly, in that they've been carefully chosen for their 15-letterness. Anyway, I enjoy doing math during my solving about as much as I enjoy having to draw on my puzzle to figure out some meta-baloney aspect of the theme. I think this is Parker's debut. Considering he has made the lamentable, rookie decision to go for a pangram, the fill is quite decent. BEEST is bad (49D: Ending with wilde- or harte-), and TSWANA is godawful (12D: A language of South Africa), but most of the rest is tolerable to pretty good. Parker spent a lot of time ... somewhere in Africa, if I'm remembering our conversation from ACPT correctly, so maybe TSWANA is somehow dear to him. As fill, it's garbage. Kill your darlings.
I should add that Parker is an exceedingly nice young man who gave me a rebus puzzle at this past year's American Crossword Puzzle Tournament (an actual rebus, with pictures, written out much the same way as today's theme answers): STORE + BOX - BOOTS + PAW + ROCK - COW + ZERO [written "sin (π)"] - OZ = REX PARKER. It's highly adorable and I have it sitting right by my desk.
- 17A: 3, 6, 11, 18, 27 ... (X SQUARED PLUS TWO)
- 34A: 4, 2, 4/3, 1, 4/5 ... (TWENTY OVER FIVE X)
- 57A: 8, 1, -18, -55, -116 ... (NINE MINUS X CUBED)
- EPSON = printer maker (10D: Printer brand)
- EPSOM = salts and race track
- EBSEN = actor BUDDY of "The Beverly Hillbillies" and "Barnaby Jones"
- 5A: Princess in a Nintendo game series (ZELDA) — never played it, but guessed it correctly (after waffling for a split-second between ZELDA and ZENDA)
- 14A: So-called Family City, U.S.A. (OREM) — gimme! I've had to clue it before, I guess, or else I really perused OREM clues at some point. Anyway, this confirmed my first guess of ROXY at 1D: Classic theater name.
- 22A: Joint U.S. / Canada military org. (NORAD) — no idea about this one, though the acronym is vaguely familiar from that Santa tracker website. How you get from North American Aerospace Defense Command to NORAD, I don't know.
- 60A: First major publisher of board games in the U.S. (IVES) — really? Never heard of 'em. Composer Charles. Rotund singer/actor Burl. Printmaker partner of Currier. I've heard of those guys.
- 4D: Bird whose name is a Midwest school's initials (EMU) — that's Eastern Michigan University, which I know only because it was down the street from U. Mich., Ann Arbor.