Contemporary of Columbus / SAT 8-18-12 / Lillie with Tony / Cagney player on TV / Sarah Palin self-descriptively / First name among exotica singers / Crockett Hotel's neighbor
Saturday, August 18, 2012
Constructor: Dana Motley
Relative difficulty: Easy
Word of the Day: John CABOT (1A: Contemporary of Columbus) —
John Cabot (known in Italian as Giovanni Caboto; c. 1450 – c. 1499) was an Italian navigator andexplorer whose 1497 discovery of parts of North America under the commission of Henry VII of England is commonly held to have been the first European encounter with the mainland of North America since the Norse Vikings visits to Vinland in the eleventh century. The official position of the Canadian and United Kingdom governments is that he landed on the island of Newfoundland. (wikipedia)
• • •CABOT guy is. Sincerely, never heard of him. Or, I *have* heard of him, and completely forgot about him. One or the other. At any rate, I guessed the "T" in his name because CABOT is a recognizable name, unlike CABON, the other answer I was entertaining. Only after I finished the puzzle did I see how TAG = [Put out, in a way] (baseball). I would be put out of someone kept NAGging me. But that was the only scary moment. Otherwise, I started with OSSIE (once crosses ruled out GEENA) (46A: Davis of "Bubba Ho-Tep," 2002), and worked off crosses straight through the whole damned puzzle. No jumping around or rebooting or nothing. HALTER TOPS off the HA- (57A: Summer wear for women). REEBOKS off the -KS (22D: Alternatives to Filas). NUT TREE off the -EE (28D: Almond, for one). Just not Saturday hard. Given the clue, BETSY ROSS (33D: A 1952 3-cent stamp honored her 200th birthday) was a cinch w/ just a cross or two. Few letters at the end of LADY GODIVA and she turned right up (17A: One barely riding?). There are no obscure or even strange words in the whole thing—which I guess is a plus, but somehow it all felt a little boring. Maybe the cluing was what was lacking. Maybe SPIELER (42D: Pitching ace?) next to ONE SHARE (37D: Minimal market purchase) and AMATOL (45D: Powerful explosive) is just snoozy stuff. Maybe I don't like the idea of more than one KROGER (38A: Some markets = KROGERS). Dunno. But this didn't do much for me, despite its smoothness and solidity. At 72 words, I expect some zing. With a few exceptions, or w/ slightly different cluing, this puzzle could've been from 30 years ago. Maybe more. Themelesses usually have seed answers—stuff the puzzle gets built around because it's Awesome. I don't know what those would have been today.
GLESS). ALANA (14A: Actress De La Garza of "Law & Order") and BEA (33A: Lillie with a Tony) were new to me, but easily gettable via crosses. YMA is common crosswordese, so that was a gimme (50A: First name among exotica singers), and MERL is uncommon crosswordese, so ditto (63A: Keyboardist Saunders). No idea what Crockett Hotel's neighbor was, but it sounded westerny and I had enough crosses to make ALAMO the obvious choice. I guess "Rendering" is in the clue 31D: Rendering on Connecticut's state quarter is there because "Tree" would be too easy ... ? But I hardly think it mattered, and "rendering" is ugly (and long) as a clue word. There must be some happy medium between "tree" and "rendering." Improbably, I wanted SATIE at first for 48D: "The Liberty Bell composer" (SOUSA). I *always* want SATIE for a 5-letter composer (esp. starting w/ S). He's reasonably common. So is SOUSA, it's true, but I'd rather listen to SATIE, so ... SATIE wins, clue wording be damned.
MAVERICK (8D: Sarah Palin, self-descriptively), but it's a Wednesday clue—if not outright obvious, certainly obvious after a cross or two. Whole puzzle suffered from this pushover quality. If there were such a thing as a Wednesday themeless, this would be a good example and I would've enjoyed it a reasonable amount.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld