Papuan port / SAT 5-5-12 / Taxonomy suffix / 1945 Tommy Dorsey hit / Pungent fish topper / Film with protagonist Z / Common barn roof / Philippine province on Luzon / Onetime Lake Texcoco dweller / Beatles If you wear red tonight
Saturday, May 5, 2012
Constructor: Ned White
Relative difficulty: Challenging
Word of the Day: GAMBREL (2D: Common barn roof) —
A gambrel (also known as a Dutch gambrel) is a usually-symmetrical two-sided roof with two slopes on each side. The upper slope is positioned at a shallow angle, while the lower slope is steep. This design provides the advantages of a sloped roof while maximizing headroom on the building's upper level. The name comes from the Medieval Latin word gamba, meaning horse's hock or leg. (wikipedia)
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AQUATEEN? (38A: Any of three title characters in a long-running Cartoon Network series) Wow. VEAL RIB ... really? I just ... I don't know what to say about an answer like that. That is not a phrase I've ever heard, and I had no idea that a VEAL RIB could be a [Steak or chop choice]. Those sound like different things ... from ribs, ... but I'm not a big meat-eater, so maybe people eat VEAL RIB a lot and it's a major thing. But I used to eat much more meat, and I can't remember ever seeing those words together like that. RIVER PO?? (60A: It forms much of Lombardy's southern border) God that's awful. Can we do that now? Just put RIVER before the name, like RIVER DANUBE or RIVER MISSISSIPPI??? NEHI SODA, not much better. There is no other NEHI. NEHI SODA = redundant (36D: Drink that had a Wild Red variety). Am I going to confuse it with a NEHI blender or a NEHI razor?
DELIBES? (65A: "Coppelia" composer) I barrrrrely know that name. Came to me from somewhere, and thank god, 'cause that corner is nuts. Not as nuts as the NW, though; I had an error there. Never heard of GAMBREL. Never heard of -OTA (4D: Taxonomy suffix). I'm just shaking my head at -OTA. Brought down by *&$%ing -OTA, one of the worst pieces of fill in xword history. Couldn't parse [Medium frequencies include them] to save my life, so figured it would be some engineering / physics thing I didn't know. Wrote in AMBENDS. Why not? OTE? OTA? Who can tell the difference? And AMBENDS seems as much a word as, say, GAMBREL, so ... pfft. I still don't get FINS (5D: Drum and bass parts)—total guess that ended up right (kind readers tell me "drum" is a kind of fish; news to me). Here's my report on the NE: Let's see ... never heard of BOB STAY (8A: Rope holding down a bowsprit), never heard of "OPUS ONE" (16A: 1945 Tommy Dorsey hit), never heard of RESTONS (18A: Journalists James and James Jr.), never heard of "YES IT IS" (14D: Beatles tune that begins "If you wear red tonight") ... and yet that was the corner I got the quickest.
This puzzle is a nightmare, both because it's filled with stuff I don't know (tough luck) and because that stuff seems absurd—I don't expect you to have the same ignorances I have, but I'm confident today's puzzle is going to be an ignorance bloodbath for a lot of people. A lot of smart people. This is a puzzle choked with obscurities and without a single answer that really sizzles (GRIZZLES, yes, but not sizzles). QUIRINO!? (39D: Philippine province on Luzon) Holy crap, did Maleska come back from the grave for this one? I've written way too much about this puzzle already.
- 1A: Fault line? (I GOOFED) — started with "I'M SORRY"
- 30A: Pungent fish topper (AIOLI) — one of a small handful of gimmes today. Also, EFT (59D: Small creature that undergoes metamorphosis). Actually, EFT was more "... man, I hope so" than gimme. Educated guess.
- 23A: Scary sucker, for short (DRAC) — took a while.
- 20A: Ingredient in gourmet potato chips (SEA SALT) — true enough. Not sure how it's different, flavor- (or other-) wise.
- 37A: Film with the protagonist "Z" ("ANTZ") — zero memory of that.
- 46A: With 42-Across, old ad mascot who sang "It's dandy for your teeth" (BUCKY / BEAVER) — another gimme. Thank you, "Grease" (the only place I've *ever* heard / seen the Ipana ad)
- 49A: Source of the word "robot" (CZECH) — from "R.U.R." I'm guessing.
- 63A: Central feature of St. Peter's Square (OBELISK) — again, no idea. Looking at how little I knew today, I'm surprised the grid got filled in completely at all, and that there weren't several more errors.
- 32D: Papuan port (LAE) — ouch. It hurts. Up there with -OTA among my least favorites. I've seen it before and still couldn't remember it completely. Remembered it was terrible, that it was something I'd rejected from one of my own grids before ... but couldn't remember it.
- 13D: Author of "The Stranger Beside Me," 1980 (ANN RULE) — well, at least I've heard of her. Certainly didn't know this, but was able to put it together off the -ULE.
- 45D: Relatives of dik-diks (RHEBOKS) — compared to most other answers in this grid, this was a piece of cake. That's saying something.
- 38D: Drink that has a Ruby Red variety (ABSOLUT) — superhard. Could think only of grapefruit juice.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld