Three-wheeled Asian cab /TUE 8-9-11/ Old camera settings for short / Early 1970s dance / Nickname snowboarder Shaun White / Much-derided 1980s-90s car
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Constructor: Tony Orbach
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (*for a Tuesday*)
THEME: Making soup — theme answers are familiar 15-letter names that all happen to follow the model [THE + adjective + possible soup type], clued as [Literal clue ... or some wacky kind of soup?]
Word of the Day: MAIA (1A: One of the Pleiades) —
Maia (20 Tauri) is a star in the constellation Taurus. It is the fourth brightest star in the Pleiades open star cluster (M45), after Alcyone, Atlas and Electra, in that order. The name Maia originates with the Greek: Μαῖα and Latin: Maia. She is one of the seven daughters of Atlas and Pleione in Greek mythology—stars which are also included in the Pleaides star cluster (see map). Maia is a blue giant of spectral type B8 III, and a mercury-manganese star. (wikipedia)
Tony's back! Weird: he and Janie had Sunday's puzzle, and then Janie had yesterday's LAT puzzle, and now Tony's got today's NYT. It really is their week. Today's felt toughish to me. This is largely because of a small handful of answers, most notably MAIA (1A: One of the Pleiades), of which I've *never* heard (hate failing at 1-Across) and THE FLYING TOMATO, which I remembered in retrospect, but ... who cares about retrospect when you're trying to solve a damned puzzle? I like the weirdness of the theme, and the parallel structures of the theme answers. I would totally eat two of these soups. With a BIALY, if one were offered (38A: Onion-flavored roll).
Tony let in some stuff that I think every constructor should try hard to Keep Out of his / her puzzles (with the understanding that sometimes you just Need some of these answers): MAIA (not a fan yet—like TOD, it does not feel very Tuesdayish (65D: Thomas' Mann's "Der ___ in Venedig")); AABA (man I hate rhyme schemes in my puzzles) (36A: Rhyme scheme for Frost's "Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening"); ASAS (this answer makes me yearn for a rhyme scheme) (68A: Old camera settings, for short); -ESCE (the ICKYiest of the suffixes) (44A: Suffix with opal); UIES (the less said about this oddly common bit of fill, the better); and ISPS (the most valid answer in this short list—I just don't like it) (56A: Ways to the Web: Abbr.). DREAR (62A: Gloomy, in verse) and CYCLO aren't great (16A: Three-wheeled Asian cab), but there's something oddly interesting about them that make me not gag. Might have been somewhat faster if I'd known that Okeechobee was a LAKE (was thinking SWAMP or RIVER ...), or if I hadn't gone with IONE at 1-Across or URLS at 56-Across.
- 17A: "Peanuts" figure ... or some fabulous fall soup? (THE GREAT PUMPKIN)
- 39A: Early 1970s dance ... or some smelly soup? (THE FUNKY CHICKEN)
- 63A: Nickname for snowboarder Shaun White ... or some airborne soup? (THE FLYING TOMATO)
- 25A: Much-derided 1980s-'90s car (YUGO) — it's small and ugly and will remind you of Eastern Bloc depression. You'll love it!
- 43A: Kenyan tribesman (MASAI) — I did my eighth-grade Geography report on Tanzania, which (I'm pretty sure) is how I learned about these tribesmen. I'm assuming they're not just in Kenya, but in (neighboring) Tanzania as well.
- 71A: Instrument played with a plectrum (LYRE) — If it hadn't been for MAIA, "plectrum" would've been the Word of the Day.
- 57D: One-horse carriage (SHAY) — again, very un-Tuesday like. The NYT puzzle has a strange affection for carriages.