Benedictine monk who founded scholasticism / SUN 6-10-12 / Hockey feint / Jabberwocky starter / Ben Hur novelist Wallace / First name in 1960s diplomacy / Styx song with some Japanese lyrics / Frank with album Sheik Yerbouti
Sunday, June 10, 2012
Constructor: Xan Vongsathorn
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: "Getting Around" — some words inside theme answers literally GO IN CIRCLES. This is because each answer is a kind of comment on itself, e.g. GIFT WRAPPED indicates that GIFT is "wrapped" in circles; INSIDE FASTBALL indicates that FASTBALL goes "inside" the circles; etc.
NOTE FROM THE CONSTRUCTOR (which stupid Blogger marked as "spam" in my comments section for some reason):
"IMO something crucial was lost in the editing process. The clue I submitted for 116A was something like [Be redundant, like the parts of the starred entries that don't 116-Across?]. I like this because it forces one to realize that the circled part of each theme entry is "acting out" the whole entry. ARMADILLO with nine circles around it can stand alone as a nine-banded armadillo. Similarly, PLANETS are ringed by circles.
This clue also highlights something remarkable about the "theme revealer": GO IN CIRCLES can mean to be repetitive, and part of each theme answer is in fact repetitive, namely the part that does not literally go in circles. And it applies to itself, not just the other theme entries. 116A is contained in *and* described by its own clue. Circular! And this theme would not be possible if convention was to use something other than circles to highlight letters in crossword puzzles. If AcrossLite only supported ovals...well GO IN OVALS is not a phrase.
Compare this to a more typical theme revealer, like STOP clued as [Halt, or a literal hint to the starred entries?], in a puzzle where puns are created by changing S into P, i.e. S TO P. There halting typically has nothing to do with the other theme entries. Now there's nothing wrong with that theme. But that type of puzzle is relatively easy to make, and as a result there are a lot of them. Personally, these days I rarely make a puzzle unless there is something "extra" to it! For whatever reason, here the extra thing got lost in the editing process.
There was probably a good reason. But I also think that once you understand this theme, it seems like it will be more transparent to others than it actually is. Without question, this puzzle needs *something* to help the solvers out a little more."
Word of the Day: NINE-BANDED ARMADILLO (66A: *Animal that gives birth to identical quadruplets) —
The nine-banded armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus), or the nine-banded, long-nosed armadillo, is a species of armadillo found in North, Central, and South America, making it the most widespread of the armadillos. Its ancestors originated in South America, and remained there until 3 million years ago, when the formation of the Isthmus of Panama allowed them to enter North America as part of the Great American Interchange. The nine-banded armadillo is a solitary, mainly nocturnal animal, found in many kinds of habitats, from mature and secondary rainforests to grassland and dry scrub. It is an insectivorous animal, feeding chiefly on ants, termites, and other small invertebrates. The armadillo can jump 3–4 feet (91–120 cm) straight in the air if sufficiently frightened, making it a particular danger on roads. (wikipedia)
• • •LIKE LIKE (89D: Have a crush on, in middle school lingo) and "MR. ROBOTO" (6D: Styx song with some Japanese lyrics) and (of course) WOO HOO! (84A: Cry of delight popularized by Homer Simpson). For the most part, the grid is both zingy and clean—a nice combination. Clue of the day, and candidate for Clue of the Year was 86D: Parks with no intention of moving (ROSA). Amusingest musical reference of the year might go to 7D: Frank with the album "Sheik Yerbouti" (ZAPPA).
- 23A: *Ready for the present? (GIFT-WRAPPED)
- 25A: *Makeshift swing? (INNER TUBE)
- 47A: *Brushback pitch (INSIDE FASTBALL)
- 51A: *All-in-one (SELF-CONTAINED)
- 66A: *Animal that gives birth to identical quadruplets (NINE-BANDED ARMADILLO)
- 86A: *Saturn and others (RINGED PLANETS)
- 90A: *Contents of a chest? (INTERNAL ORGANS)
- 113A: *Surfaced, in a way (BUBBLED UP)
- 116A: *Be repetitive ... or what parts of the answers to the starred clues do? (GO IN CIRCLES)
Noteworthy solving moments:
- Embarrassed my former, medievalist self by needing several crosses to get ANSELM (1A: Benedictine monk who founded scholasticism).
- Black Africa???? 2D: Afrique ___ (NOIRE) ... I have to look this up now. Wow. Yes. In French, it seems, Sub-Saharan Africa is sometimes called "Afrique NOIRE." Live and learn. This reminds me of the documentary on "Graceland" that I watched today (fantastic—music, politics, controversy)
- I'm writing something about music and crosswords at the moment, so I was recently doing database searches of common musical answers. Thus OCHS was relatively fresh in my mind (75A: Protest singer Phil).
- I prefer my BELA Bartoked, but Flecked works too (109D: Banjo master Fleck).
TWAS LEW and ALBA in the OLLY TENON ADLAI SHEEP... *
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
*98A: "Jabberwocky" starter + 17D: Duke of ___ (noble Spanish title since 1472) + 42D: Nonsense word repeated before "oxen free" + 44D: Half of a dovetail joint + 103D: First name in 1960s diplomacy + 78D: Ones you can count on?
REMINDER to constructors and aspiring constructors under 30 years of age: the "Twenty Under Thirty" contest deadline is coming up in just 10 days (Jun. 20, 2012). I'm reprinting the press release again here for the final time.