Richard Nixon's birthplace / FRI 7-20-12 / Black Bears' home / Marlon Brando's "I Remember Mama" role / Rikishi's specialty / Bailout button
Friday, July 20, 2012
Constructor: Martin Ashwood-Smith
Relative difficulty: Medium-hard
Word of the Day: ERTE (56A: "Athena" artist) —
I'm sure some of you are tired of this time-tested piece of fill (Wikipedia bio), but I always like to see him turn up. When I visitied Taipei many years ago, I was lucky enough to stay at the Landis Hotel, which is decorated in gorgeous, sumptuous Art Deco. The photo below is a view of the lobby, with an original Erté sculpture on the table and other works throughout the building. My suite, appointed in black and white, made me want to rouge my knees, roll my stockings down, and head out in my flapper's dress to dance the night away.
• • •
Hello again. You might be thinking ITSDEJAVU but don't be silly -- that was last Friday. Buoyed by your very warm welcome, I jumped in to sub today on short notice, and look at my reward: a crossed triple-stack from Martin Ashwood-Smith to geek out about. I stopped doing puzzles for a few years when I couldn't squeeze them into my life, and so I no longer recognize most of the authors in a week. However, Mr. Ashwood-Smith is definitely an old favorite. I enjoy his distractors and wordplay in the clues, so that instead of reading "Not a single person" (6A), it has to be "Not a single person" to get WIFE. Or that the IMAX option is for a big-movie fan, not a big fan of movies. This kind of puzzling feels especially satisfying.
I found today to be an enjoyable workout. For a while, I wasn't finding a foothold, and you know that feeling when that happens, sort of a pleasant panic at what might be some tough going? Well, it's not so pleasant when you have to blog about it, and resembles plain old panic a little more. But with some patience and a big assist from WILMAFLINTSTONE, it started coming together. There's a howling black hole of ignorance at the intersection of MORRO and BOWE, but at least that "O" was easy enough to guess.
Extra credit to Martin for wrangling four 10-letter answers into place with the stacks and not choking us with overly painful fill as a result. It's always fun to see very familiar answers clued in inventive ways that make me forgive their inclusion, like EELS (59A: Some nonkosher fish), APO (Major mail handler?: Abbr.), and especially the darling BOA (19A: Camp accessory), my second-favorite clue of the puzzle.
- 30A: It fosters bilingualism (ESL) — As someone whose master's studies and work experience are in TESOL (teaching English to speakers of other languages, the more accurate but less popular term), I enjoyed seeing ESL clued as one of its positive benefits!
- 17A: Scapegoat's query (AMITOBLAME) — It turns out WHATDIDIDO also fits. Both answers make me a little sad for the poor goat, especially given what used to happen to the actual animal.
- 21A: Klutz (NIMROD) — Only in the widest sense is NIMROD a synonym, I think. I've never seen or heard it used to mean "clumsy," the specific meaning of "klutz," and my extremely extensive search of the literature backs me up. I suppose "klutz" could be used more generally to mean foolish, but why go there when Yiddish already has so many wonderful words for that? (NSFW language at that link.)
- 12D: Snooty? (NASAL) — Winning clue. By a nose.
- 20A: Certain losing line (XOX) — It took me a while to realize that this wasn't "kisses and hugs," which didn't seem like much of a losing line to me.
- 38A: Film for which Judi Dench was nominated for Best Actress (NOTESONASCANDAL) — Even though I knew she won Best Supporting Actress for this, I couldn't get SHAKESPEAREINLOVE out of my head. Then I decided I must not have seen the movie. Then when I finally got the answer, I realized not only had I seen the movie, I own and love the Philip Glass score. Did someone say ASSTUPIDASCANBE?
Okay, that was pretty, but I think we need something a little more rockin' to start off the weekend. So here's My Chemical Romance with FAMOUSLASTWORDS.
Signed, Joey Haban, Double Agent of CrossWorld