Automaker Ferrari / THU 6-7-12 / Chem assay / Twins sharing star on Hollywood walk of Fame / Bygone record label / Rocker Stefani / Some Rijksmuseum holdings / Brewer Coors
Thursday, June 7, 2012
Constructor: Joe Krozel
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: I BEFORE / E EXCEPT / AFTER C (13A: With 14- and 64-Across, familiar rule not always followed) — there are two sets of four circled squares, each arranged in a square pattern: IE on top of EI. Several "I before E" and "E before I" answers run through them. Some violate the rule in question ... some don't.
Word of the Day: DURRA (48D: Sorghum variety) —
Sorghum bicolor, commonly called sorghum and also known as durra or jowari, is a grass species cultivated for its edible grain. Sorghum originated in northern Africa, and is now cultivated widely in tropical and subtropical regions. S. bicolor is typically an annual, but some cultivars are perennial. It grows in clumps that may reach over 4 m high. The grain is small, ranging from 3 to 4 mm in diameter. Sweet sorghums are sorghum cultivars that are primarily grown for foliage; they are shorter than those grown for grain. (wikipedia)
• • •A bunch of "IE" and "EI" words intersect each other. Some follow the "I BEFORE E" rule (LIEN, CEILING, HYGIENE...), some don't (WEIRD, SEIZE, ANCIENT...). Where does ONEI fit in? (21D: "That's ___ hadn't heard)
If I'm missing something, I apologize.
ASTRONOMER was going to be (58A: Studier of distant emissions). Eventually guessed RADIO because it felt like I'd heard of such a thing before. Also hadn't heard of ECOLAW (or if I had, I forgot), and honestly, off the E and A, just made it up, knowing (in my gut) it would be right (43A: Ban on strip mining, e.g.). If EXMATE is a thing, why not ECOLAW? Only thing that was truly out of left field, for me (in that I needed virtually every cross) was DURRA. Not up on my alternate names of grass types, I guess. Biggest solving mistakes today included writing in DATE for DELE (2D: Take out) and then getting most of the northern part of the grid while still having no idea what kind of TOURNAMENTS we could be talking about (15A: 5-Down and others). NE was tough for me, as my brain, even the very bendy part of my brain, wouldn't accept EXMATE as a thing. It's occurring to me now that it actually took me some time just to get the theme because of these early issues. No clue on IGN (13D: Engine part: Abbr.). OPTI- for OPTO- (11D: Vision: Prefix). Once the theme fell in, most of these problems went away. Had one last big problem at the end when I went with BIG TIME instead of BIG NAME (61A: Major). The BIG TIME / DATE snafus that framed my solving experience accounted for most of my slowness, because as I said, the rest of the grid had gimmes aplenty and was easy to mow through.
- 18A: Bygone record label (ARISTA) — a common crossword answer, but I had no idea it was "bygone." Weird to get my music news from the crossword.
- 24A: Twins sharing a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (OLSENS) — first twins that popped into my head. Their super-common letters let me know (or suspect) they were the right ones.
- 39A: Automaker Ferrari (ENZO) — one of my biggest crosswordese problems involves trying to tell this guy apart from opera star EZIO Pinza.
- 42A: ___ Tales, magazine where many H. P. Lovecraft stories first appeared (WEIRD) — love this clue. I have something of a pulp fetish. Maybe "fetish" isn't the right word. Or maybe it is, who knows? I also loved GO POOF (45D: Disappear) and OFF THE CLOCK (3D: Not paid for, as factory work).
- 63A: Some Rijksmuseum holdings (STEENS) — as with the OLSENS, the ultra-common letters led me toward the light.
- 16D: Mr. Mojo ___ (anagrammatic nickname for Jim Morrison) (RISIN') — one of those answers with really one clue. Or I guess you could go with [What you're doin' in the mornin'].
- 23D: Subject of a six-volume history by edward Gibbon (ANCIENT ROME) — had the terminal "E" and really wanted ROMAN EMPIRE (which fits).
- 38D: Rocker Stefani (GWEN) — one of those blessed gimmes I was talking about. See also EDGE (51D: Kind of piece in a jigsaw puzzle). Do not see also ANAL, wth!? (31A: Chem. assay). That's the kind of answer that needs a direct, anatomical / psychological clue, because that's all anyone's gonna see anyway, so why run away from it? Embrace your ANAL! And on that note ...