1957 hit for Perry Como / SAT 3-24-12 / Oyster Bay hamlet / Melodic passages / Jerboa's home / Volstead Act opponents / NYC commuting debut of 1904
Saturday, March 24, 2012
Constructor: Barry C. Silk
Relative difficulty: Medium
Word of the Day: SYOSSET (24A: Oyster Bay hamlet) —
Syosset is a hamlet (and a census-designated place) in Nassau County, New York, in the northeastern section of Town of Oyster Bay near the North Shore of Long Island. The population was 18,829 at the 2010 census. It is served by the Syosset railroad station, the Syosset Post Office, the Syosset Central School District, the Syosset Public Library, the Syosset Fire Department, and the Jericho Water District. (wikipedia)
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ODER-NEISSE (26D: ___ Line (German/Polish border)), an answer I retrieved from the deepest depths of my brain (after discarding ODENSE-something) only because I'd run into it in crosswords before. An answer like that is a real drag, because if you don't know it (and why should you?) there's virtually nothing about it that's inferrable, so you can only get it through slow process of torture. Strap it to a chair and pull its teeth. Miserable. This is the big problem with the puzzle's worst answer—SYOSSET. This is NY provincialism at its worst. A "hamlet" no bigger than, oh, let's say, TRURO (gag), and its spelling is nuts, and and and. That's the sore-thumbiest answer I've seen in a long time. Everything else in this puzzle is at least plausbily familiar to all. Famous names, general vocabulary, some crosswordese (see ARIOSI, e.g. 21A: Melodic passages). And then there's SYOSSET. There's no reason anyone outside the greater NY area should know what the hell that is. Is it fair? Well, all the crosses are gettable (or, in the case of "IVY ROSE" (???) inferrable (11D: 1957 hit for Perry Como)), so, yeah, sure. But torturous tooth-pulling metaphor applies here, too. Moreso. That answer nearly WHELMed me. And by the way: if WHELM means [Overpower], then "overWHELM" means ... [Overoverpower]???
- 15A: Writer who held 14 honorary doctorates (ISAAC ASIMOV) — ASIMOV shows up not infrequently in puzzles. Not many V-ending words out there.
- 29A: Singer of the 2011 #1 hit "Someone Like You" (ADELE) — Justifiably, deservedly famous now. Hurray.
- 40A: Jerboa's home (DESERT) — forgot jerboas were animals and went looking for a country.
- 46D: "Ev'rybody Wants to Be ___" (Disney film tune) ("A CAT") — nooo idea. This is from ... "Lady and the Tramp"??? No. Dang it. It's 1970's "The Aristocats." Never seen it.