Monday, March 26, 2012
Constructor: Ray Fontenot
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (i.e. this was a Tuesday)
THEME: MOVING / VAN (7A: With 58-Down, vehicle for people on the go? ... or a hint to five strategically placed answers in this puzzle) — "VAN" "moves" thru five theme answers, diagonally, right thru the center of the grid
Word of the Day: Mischa ELMAN (5D: Violinist Mischa) —
Mikhail [originally Moses or Moishe] (Mischa) Saulovich Elman (Russian: Михаи́л (Ми́ша) Сау́лович Э́льман; January 20, 1891, Talnoye, Kiev Governorate, Russian Empire – April 5, 1967, New York, United States) was a Russian violinist, famed for his passionate style and beautiful tone. (wikipedia)
• • •
ELMAN, was particularly exasperating because it brought back memories of a messed-up clue from days gone by—specifically, from this puzzle, where [Violinist Mischa] was used to clue AUER, only *Leopold* AUER was the violinist, not Mischa. Mischa was an actor. Aaaaaaaanyway, ELMAN, eh? DURBIN, eh? (27A: Singer/actress Deanna of the 1930s-'40s) Ugh. OK. Not Monday fare for me, but OK. I love the long Downs on this one, but my main (big) problem with this grid is how invisible the theme answers are. There are so many other Across answers of the same length that they don't stand out. For some reason I find this phenomenally annoying. I'm impressed at how straight the VAN drives, but that's all I'm impressed by, theme-wise. The placement of MOVING / VAN is absurd. It's an OK puzzle, misplaced on a Monday.
- 13A: Alternative to chocolate (VANILLA)
- 21A: Sir Walter Scott novel ("IVANHOE")
- 36A: Native of Cuba's capital (HAVANAN) — not your loveliest / most plausible adjective
- 49A: State of bliss (NIRVANA)
- 61A: Desert procession (CARAVAN)
Screwed up by going with LAMÉ over LACE (2D: Fabric that doesn't block much light). Got completely befuddled by 53D: Long-haired uglies (HAGS). Had H-GS and definitely considered HOGS. NEW ERA was like pulling teeth (18A: Time of change). I made up some time at the end because I knew the crosswordy stuff like ELSA (33D: Lohengrin's love) and DAKAR and NOOR. All in all, 1m 20s longer than last week's Monday, and just a few seconds shy of last week's Tuesday.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld