1962 Neil Simon musical / WED 3-21-12 / Horsehide leather / Southwestern spread / Bees big company in personal care products
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Constructor: Peter A. Collins and Joe Krozel
Relative difficulty: Medium
Word of the Day: Koh-i-NOOR diamond (47A) —
The Kōh-i Nūr (Telugu: కోహినూరు, Hindi: कोहिनूर, Persian/Urdu: کوه نور ) which means "Mountain of Light" inPersian, also spelled Koh-i-noor, Koh-e Noor or Koh-i-Nur, is a 105 carat (21.6 g) diamond (in its most recent cut) that was once the largest known diamond in the world. The Kōh-i Nūr originated in the state of Andhra Pradesh in India along with its double, the Darya-ye Noor (the "Sea of Light"). It has belonged to various Hindu,Persian, Rajput, Mughal, Turkic, Afghan, Sikh and British rulers who fought bitterly over it at various points in history and seized it as a spoil of war time and time again. It was most recently seized by the East India Company and became part of the British Crown Jewels when Queen Victoria was proclaimed Empress of Indiain 1877. It was traditionally known as Syamantaka-mani and later Madnayak or the King of Jewels, before being renamed Kohinoor in 18th century by Afghan Ahmad Shah Abdali.
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ARETHA and her music are well known to me, so no trouble there (except with "BABY I / LOVE YOU"—which is really awkwardly placed on the grid and not one of the first ARETHA hits that comes to (my) mind, though I love it). The rest of the grid was at least semi-tough, or semi-toughly clued, so I think my time on this was normal. Maybe even slightly slow. I'm still getting used to what my average times are *on paper*, so ... who knows? I don't understand why this puzzle exists. She's *going* to turn 70 in four days? Has there ever been such a flimsy premise for a tribute puzzle. They probably pre-wrote it for her death, and that just didn't come fast enough, so here we go. (Sorry if that sounds cynical, but if obits are often largely pre-written, why not tribute crosswords?) I like the way the non-centrality of the singer's name is offset by the serendipitously symmetrical QUEEN OF SOUL. The choice of representative songs seems good (with the severed, upside-down "BABY I / LOVE YOU" being the notable exception).
- 30A: Nickname for 42-Across (QUEEN OF SOUL)
- 5D: 1968 hit for 42-Across ("THINK")
- 52D: With 10-Down, 1967 hit for 42-Across ("BABY I / LOVE YOU")
- 16D: 1967 hit for 42-Across ("CHAIN OF FOOLS") — here's the real serendipity: getting this answer to intersect the two main theme answers. Whole grid was built around this three-answer framework.
- 43D: 1967 hit for 42-Across ("RESPECT")
Got BLURTS right off but didn't write it in bec. I couldn't confirm crosses. I THINK I started with SORE and then RANCHO (13A: Southwestern spread). Kept looking for familiar, non-literary Spanish place names at 2D: Sancho Panza's land (LA MANCHA)—getting that answer was a big "D'oh!" Couldn't get into the NE at all from the west side. Had TH- and couldn't see THE LOT (7A: Everything), DE- and couldn't see DEAR ONE (?) (14A: Precious), COR- and couldn't see (didn't know) CORDOVAN (which seems more adjective than noun) (16A: Horsehide leather). Had to build that corner from the bottom up (slower). Rest of the grid was event-free, except for where I wrote in SORTED for SIFTED (65A: Examined thoroughly, with "through") and misspelled HOARD (51D: Stash) as HORDE. Clue on BURT'S was interesting (52A: ___ Bees (big company in personal care products)). About as good as a clue is going to get for BURT'S. Never heard of "LITTLE ME" (40D: 1962 Neil Simon musical). Always thought "Yowzer!" was spelled "Yowza!" That is all.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld