Premium Cuban cigar brand / SUN 2-26-12 / Multiple Grammy winner contestant Dancing with Stars / Fastener patented in 1939 / Feeling pervading Brat Pack movies / Spanish winds / Sod house locale
Sunday, February 26, 2012
Constructor: Daniel A. Finan
Relative difficulty: Medium
Word of the Day: KEGLER (57A: X X X lover?) —
A person who bowls; a bowler.
[German, from kegeln, to bowl, from Kegel, bowling pin, from Middle High German kegel, from Old High German kegil, peg.] (freedictionary.com)
• • •
This is a theme that might be clever in theory but is not so enjoyable to work through in practice. Whatever the overriding thematic principle may be, the upshot is that the grid is full of nonsense like TONIBRAX (great potential space alien name, btw). Might have to name the kind of puzzle that has nonsense fill in it a TONIBRAX. Anyway, as I say, the concept is interesting, but I didn't even know what it was until I was completely done with the puzzle. I just thought "I bet those missing endings are gonna be important somehow" and I kept plowing ahead assuming I'd hit a revealer or explanatory note of some kind. No luck. Turns out I never actually looked at the title, but I doubt it would've helped much. It's not like the theme answers were tough, so I didn't really need to know the theme. The fill (with a couple of notable exception) is very solid. Better than average for a Sunday, I'd say. Yes, we can all find a handful of short stuff we're not that fond of, but that's expected in a grid this big. Overall, it's a feisty, jaunty, bubbly grid with lots of Scrabbly letters and cool answers like TROGLODYTES (37D: Cavemen) and TWIST TIE (124A: Fastener patented in 1939). But what the hell is up with KEGLER? People know that word? It seems ... not common, and that is the *last* kind of word you want to start getting cute with in the cluing. Not sure why you go with KEGLER there; it's utterly unnecessarily (I rewrote that part of the grid in my head in five seconds just now). Maybe the constructor actually *wanted* that word in the grid. Seems unfathomable, but maybe. Anyhoo ... that was about my least favorite moment of the solve (also, my last moment). I also had no idea what a COHIBA was (66D: Premium Cuban cigar brand). Was sure either KEGLER or COHIBA would end up being wrong. Not so.
- 23A: Aide for a V.I.P. customer (PERSONAL SHOPPER)
- 25A: Multiple Grammy winner who was a contestant on "Dancing With the Stars" (TONI BRAXTON)
- 35A: Prozac, for one (ANTI-DEPRESSANT)
- 59A: Freudian concept (PLEASURE PRINCIPLE)
- 78A: Mountains, rivers, plains, etc. (PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY)—I didn't know there was another kind.
- 99A: Fancy salad ingredient (ARTICHOKE HEART)—you can get them at your local supermarket. I wouldn't say "fancy."
- 117A: London transportation (UNDERGROUND)
- 119A: Marlon Brando ("ON THE WATERFRONT")
- 1A: Bulb holders (LAMPS) — wrong, right out of the box. I had STEMS.
- 54A: It may be popped for fun (WHEELIE) — great answer, and a good example of how fun much of the language in the grid is. I also particularly enjoyed YODELER (73A: Jimmie Rodgers or Tex Owens, musically), MCQUEEN (86A: "The Magnificent Seven" star), and "I AM A ROCK" (61D: Song that starts "A winter's day in a deep and dark December").
- 92A: Spanish winds (AIRES) — oh I don't like this. I'd've gone with AIDES / LUDES (!) / SERTA / ROOMS. You can put drug slang in puzzles, right?
- 44D: Modern December birthstone (ZIRCON) — Pfft. "Modern." You really gonna take your cues from a 1912 National Association of Jewelers decree!? How dare they undermine the purity of the birthstone tradition. I guess anything goes nowadays, with the long hair and loud music and sexting on the ipads and what not. ZIRCON!? Bah. It's turquoise or nothing!
- 102D: Feeling pervading Brat Pack movies (ANGST) — Remember yesterday when I explained exactly how much of a [Reagan-era teenager] I was. So, yeah, I got this one.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld