Siberian native / THU 6-14-12 / Co-star of Showtime's Homeland / Cravat alternative / Bergman's 1956 Oscar-winning role / When repeated 1968 name in news / Corrida chant
Thursday, June 14, 2012
Constructor: Tracy Gray
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: RIGHT ON RED (41D: Legal maneuver ... with a hint to answering seven clues in this puzzle) — seven Down answers turn right (i.e. become across answers) at the letter string "RED" (affected Acrosses are simply clued with a "-")
Word of the Day: MOCHA (64A: Yemeni port) —
Mocha or Mokha (Arabic: المخا [al-Mukhā]) is a port city on the Red Sea coast of Yemen. Until it was eclipsed in the 19th century by Aden and Hodeida, Mocha was the principal port for Yemen's capital Sana'a. // Mocha is famous for being the major marketplace for coffee from the 15th century until the 17th century. Even after other sources of coffee were found, Mocha beans (also called Sananior Mocha Sanani beans, meaning from Sana'a) continued to be prized for their distinctive flavor—and remain so even today. (wikipedia)
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RIGHT ON RED (which I had already written in), and I would've been able to hand myself three free squares. But I didn't not do that, and as a result had just the "E" instead of the "RED" string, and ... well between that and not knowing MOCHA and not knowing ILLOGIC (54A: Incorrect reasoning) (well, not really ... as a noun ... I guess I know it, but don't use it or hear it used much), and not knowing FOSTER wrote "Camptown Races" (48A: "Camptown Races" composer) and having TUTTI (come on!) for TUTTO (34D: All, in music) ... yeah, I just idled a bit, with HAI, CLEAN, and OLE OLE (49D: Corrida chant) being my only solids down there. Once I let myself imagine an '-ED' ending for 50D: Sectioned (SLICED), all of a sudden I saw FILM CREDIT, and then I was done fast. Lesson to me: sometimes, don't get bogged down and frustrated. Stop. Reflect. Think. Puzzle wasn't really that hard, especially once you figure out the trick.
- 1D: Percussion in a marching band (SNARE DRUM)
- 8D: Co-star of Showtime's "Homeland" (CLAIRE DANES)
- 28D: Gung-ho (FIRED UP)
- 31D: Tattered (IN SHREDS)
- 48D: Actor's screen recognition (FILM CREDIT)
- 55D: Rooted for (CHEERED ON)
- 17A: Bergman's 1956 Oscar-winning role (ANASTASIA) — helped me turn NURSE / RIP (4A: "M*A*S*H" extra + 6D: Slam) into MEDIC / DIS
- 40A: Calligraphy detail (SERIF) — also a font detail. Sometimes.
- 58A: Ring of plumerias (LEI) — most embarrassing delay occurred here. Thought maybe "plumerias" was anatomical.
- 3D: Nonessentials (DEAD WOOD) — love it. Favorite answer of the day by far.
- 11D: 89 or 91, maybe (OCTANE) — me: "OCTAVE? How are those OCTAVEs?! ... Oh."
- 22D: Former sitcom featuring a #1 singer (REBA) — #1 *country* singer. This seems an important distinction. Still, this was a gimme.
- 52D: When repeated, 1968 name in the news (SIRHAN) — Has MANSON been in the puzzle before? According to cruciverb.com, just once in the NYT, and only as [Rocker Marilyn]. With the Marilyn option, I'd think that answer would have occurred more often. HANSON has been in the NYT several times, after all.
P.S. Stay tuned ... just confirmed what I'd thought was true last night: that I know someone who co-constructed a puzzle with a theme very similar to this one—a puzzle that was rejected by Shortz on the grounds that "he feels this is sort of an old trick now." One constructor has offered to let me show the puzzle here. Awaiting go-ahead from the other constructor. I just finished solving it. It's ... hard. And much more complicated. Also, it has *not* had the benefit of professional editing the way today's NYT has. So I'll be offering it simply in the spirit of "check this out!" — not "this is much better / worse." OK? OK. As I say, stay tuned.
Here we go—raw, unedited Caleb Madison/Milo Beckman (MadBeck) puzzle, coming at you. You can get either a .pdf or a .puz version of the puzzle here, at "The Island of Lost Puzzles" forum (hosted by crosswordfiend.com). My take on this MadBeck production—the revealer sort of makes it D.O.A., but in terms of level of challenge, loftiness of concept, and fill quality, I'm pretty impressed.