Koran memorizer / FRI 4-27-12 / Finnish architect Aalto / Pick-up sticks piece / Warp drive repairman on original Star Trek / North Pole author 1910 / Tom Detective 1896 novel
Friday, April 27, 2012
Constructor: Patrick Berry
Relative difficulty: Medium
Word of the Day: MARTA (35A: Commuting option in Georgia's capital) —
The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority or MARTA ( //) is the principal rapid-transitsystem in the Atlanta metropolitan area and the ninth-largest in the United States. Formed in 1971 as strictly a bus system, MARTA operates a network of bus routes linked to a rapid transit system consisting of 48 miles (77 km) of rail track with 38 train stations. MARTA operates almost exclusively in Fulton andDeKalb counties, with bus service to two destinations in Cobb county (Six Flags Over Georgia and theCumberland Transfer Center next to the Cumberland Mall) and a single rail station in Clayton County atHartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. MARTA also operates a separate paratransit service for disabled customers. As of 2009, the average total daily ridership for the system (bus and rail) was 482,500 passengers. (wikipedia)
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DEER) must end in an "S" and therefore Not putting in SAWYER (36D: "Tom ___, Detective" (1896 novel)), which is the only answer my brain wanted (and the correct one, it turns out). Wanted "TELL ME ... something" instead of "TALK TO ME" (great answer, btw) (31D: "I want the lowdown!"), and just the wanting of TELL over TALK kept me from seeing the *easy* PACED (34A: Expended some nervous energy) for an absurd amount of time. Wanted SPINE (?) instead of SHIRT at 5A: Back cover? Could not retrieve ALVAR to save my life (11D: Finnish architect Aalto). Here is the one place I think the puzzle itself (and not just me) is actually weak: over-reliance on odd names. This is especially true in the southern half of the puzzle, which is crammed with proper nouns, many of them totally unknown to me (MARTA? KURTIS? EWELL? — I read "To Kill a Mockingbird" just last summer, and that name clearly didn't stick At All). Never would've gotten YNEZ (50A: Santa ___ Valley (winegrowing region)) if not for OYEZ (43D: Courtroom cry). Other parts of this grid, I cut right through. But a slow start and a ridiculous amount of fussing in the region in and around (esp just SW of) JACKSTRAW (26D: Pick-up sticks piece) put me over my normal time by a good margin. BEAT for DEAD (41D: Utterly exhausted) was kind of a backbreaker too. Weak, weak work on my part. Embarrassing. I don't even know what a JACKSTRAW is. Maybe that would've helped.
Love the long answers here. "THREE TIMES A LADY!" (20A: First #1 hit for the Commodores) Not my favorite Commodores song, but good. And 15! They mostly make up for the not-great name-i-ness of the grid.
[The best Commodores song]
I think I resent KURTIS (40A: Former "CBS Morning News" co-anchor Bill) (seriously, who?) so much because a. you already forced me to remember ALVAR (!), and b. the clue wasn't this guy (the world's greatest KURTIS):
- 8D: Like a town that used to be a ghost town (REPEOPLED) — because of SPINE (ugh), I had this starting "NEW-" for a while.
- 5D: Warp drive repairman on the original "Star Trek" (SCOTTY) — one of the few things I had in the grid early on. Sadly, also the answer (along with IMAM ([Koran reciter])) that convinced me that SPINE was right at 5A.
- 6D: Koran memorizer (HAFIZ) — youch. Neverheardofit. Probably should've been my WOTD. According to wikipedia, this is "a term used by modern Muslims for someone who has completely memorized the Qur'an."
- 18D: "The North Pole" author, 1910 (PEARY) — Admiral, I presume. I didn't know if it was PERRY or PEARY, so I just waited (for ERSATZ—one of the language's greatest words).
- 9D: Schooner features (TOPSAILS) — any time the clue goes nautical, I'm pretty much doomed. I was also thinking maybe "schooner" was a kind of beer glass. Hey, look, something I'm not wrong about. For once.
- 27D: English physician James who gave his name to a disease (PARKINSON) — So the disease is his 4D.
- 42D: Literary governess's surname (EYRE) — this and MARLA and MERKEL were my flat-out gimmes in the South. If I'd moved out of the SW and found them earlier, this thing would've been wrapped up much more quickly.