Children's author Eleanor / FRI 6-1-12 / German composer palindromic name / Superlawyer Gerry / Singer Morse with 1952 hit Blacksmith Blues / Grapefruit taste-alike
Friday, June 1, 2012
Constructor: Joe Krozel
Relative difficulty: Easy
Word of the Day: REGER (45A: German composer with a palindromic name) —
Johann Baptist Joseph Maximilian Reger (19 March 1873 – 11 May 1916) was a Germancomposer, conductor, pianist, organist, and academic teacher. [...] Reger produced an enormous output over little more than 25 years, nearly always in abstract forms. Few of his compositions are well known in the 21st century. (wikipedia) [this was my WOTD on Christmas of last year, but clearly I didn't remember, so maybe I will this time ... ?]
• • •
SEDATER got me started and then RECHOSE put me over the top). It's a 52-worder. That is obscenely low, and virtually no one can fill such a grid well (below 60 and basically it's Patrick Berry and no one else). I took one look (seriously, one) at the grid, and thought "oh, he can't fill *that*. That's hard." Doesn't look so daunting, actually, but huge chunks of intersecting 7s are borderline impossible to fill with anything but forced, odd fill (at best). And the results (future or otherwise) are predictable: heavy reliance of RE- and -ER (and -ERS, and -ERED), heavy reliance on RLSTNE, odd plurals, virtually nothing of any real interest (I'll give polite applause to "IT'S HERE!" and "YES IT IS" (and then back off the applause slightly when I realize "IT'S ELEMENTARY" puts us into excessive IT territory).
If you liked this a lot, I don't know what to say. No, I do—imagine it was much harder. Would you still like it? People tend to cut (relatively) easy puzzles a Lot of slack. Actually, if you did like it, I would love to hear why. I have certainly done worse puzzles—this one just gave me that dejected "oh, man, *this* again?" feeling. Fellow xword enthusiasts / constructors I know were already excoriating this thing in our Facebook group before I'd even finished, though one accomplished (some might say 'studly') constructor put up a valiant defense of it (as did one very accomplished solver). It's very, very hard to fill a 52-worder, and this one ... is filled. So that's ... something. Anyhoo, I don't like saying critical things about botched stunt puzzles any more than you like reading them, I'm sure. I can only deal with the grids I see before me. I have no reason to love or hate any one constructor's puzzles more than another's. Well, actually, there's one constructor (*not* Krozel, whom I don't know) who's a Total asshole, whose puzzles I do enjoy dismantling—but *only* when they call for it; sometimes they don't.
SERGEI) was a gimme (the remake of this movie is currently in theaters—you should totally go see it). Then I crossed it with MEAGER (11A: Opposite of ample). Then I tried IT'S NOT ROCKET SCIENCE (too many letters) and IT'S NOT BRAIN SURGERY (ditto) for 21A: "This doesn't exactly require a Ph.D." (IT'S ELEMENTARY), which was wrong but the correct IT'S got me TAOISTS (3D: Some Asian believers), and thus the NW was broken open. Once you break open a grid like this, with big answers linking the different quadrants, things move rather quickly. O'LEARY (9D: Last name in Chicago lore) was a gimme from the get-go, so everything up there in the NE fell fast. Slight pause trying to move south of the equator, but only slight. TIN STAR (35A: Wild West symbol of authority) and FIESTA (33D: Piñata-hitting occasion) got me restarted, and then slid right into the SE to finish things up (with the forgotten REGER). I can't say it wasn't smooth, in that I had no trouble. I'm familiar with this constructor's style, so that helped. I don't know. The puzzle's harmless, but I'd really like to encourage constructors (yet again) to put the quality of the fill and the entertainment value of the puzzle above the stunt. Your stunt has to work. You must stick the landing. Please. Please.
- 1A: Children's author Eleanor (ESTES) — I was in ESTES Park, CO two days ago. Gorgeous. Not familiar with this ESTES, but knowing this constructor, and seeing this grid, her name was not that hard to infer from a cross or two.
- 13A: Grapefruit taste-alike (POMELO) — marking the first time I've ever seen the word "taste-alike."
- 31D: Singer Morse with the 1952 hit "The Blacksmith Blues" (ELLAMAE) — no idea. Crossing REGER could've been dangerous, but somehow "E" seemed the only realistic option.
- 34D: Superlawyer Gerry who wrote "How to Argue and Win Every Time" (SPENCE) — I seem to remember some book of his (or books, possibly) around the house when mom was in law school (the '80s). I know his name, anyway.
- 37D: "Old Time Rock & Roll" rocker (SEGER) — now imagining what a SEGER/REGER collaboration would sound like. Probably like a MANATEE (39A: SeaWorld attraction).
- 25D: Things people "do" in the early afternoon (LUNCHES) — and not, as I'd hoped, NOONERS.
- 1D: Enclose in a recess (EMBAY) — appropriately, an anagram of MAYBE, as in "MAYBE that's a word ... MAYBE ..."
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld