Gondoliers nurse / SAT 9-29-12 / Autobus alternative / Wood lice pill bugs / Like George Bush's promised nation / Summer mountain feature / Dutch Golden Age painter / He was traded between Chicago teams in 1992 /
Saturday, September 29, 2012
Constructor: Joe DiPietro
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
Word of the Day: Earl AVERILL (12D: Earl in the Baseball Hall of Fame) —
Howard Earl Averill (May 21, 1902 – August 16, 1983) was an American player inMajor League Baseball who was a center fielder from 1929 to 1941. He was a six-timeAll-Star (1933–38) and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1975. // Born in Snohomish, Washington, Averill broke into the major leagues in 1929 (at the age of 27) with the Cleveland Indians. He played for Cleveland for over ten years, and remains the all-time Indian leader in total bases, runs batted in, runs, and triples. He also remains 3rd in all-time Indian hits and doubles, and 4th in all-time Indian home runs and walks. During his time in Cleveland, the team never finished higher than 3rd. He's famous for hitting the line drive that broke Dizzy Dean's toe in the 1937 All-StarGame. Averill was the first major league player to hit 4 home runs in a doubleheader (with home run in each game) on September 17, 1930; he was also one of the first players to hit a home run in his first major league at-bat (April 16, 1929, opening day). Averill batted .378 in 1936, leading the American League in hits with 232, but finishing 2nd to Luke Appling in the batting race (Appling batted .388 for the White Sox). // During a July 1 incident in 1935, Averill was lighting firecrackers with his four children as part of a pre-4 July celebration. One exploded while he was holding it, and he suffered lacerations on the fingers of his right hand, as well as burns on his face and chest. After several weeks, he made a full recovery. (wikipedia)
• • •GIRLIE (sic!) GIRLS is one of them (33A: Lovers of all things Barbie, say). I'd have loved that if it had been spelled right. JUNK E-MAIL is called JUNK MAIL, so that didn't go down well either (35A: Filter target). I do like the phrase STRANGE BIRD, so thumbs-up there (36A: Odd one). But other long stuff, like THE TAKING (?) (5D: What leftovers may be for) and REQUIRES OF (54A: Needs from), is often really awkward and clunky, so the entertainment value of the grid is pretty low. NARYA didn't help (46D: ___ one (nobody)). Neither did the obsure AVERILL. I'm trying to imagine putting that in a grid and just can't. Lots of people are in the Hall of Fame. Not all of them are worth having in your grid. This really seems like an autofill suggestion. And what does it get you? Nothing great that I can see. I'm supposed to know Jenna Bush's married name? Maybe this puzzle was for you, but it wasn't for me.
I had "TURN it down!" and entertained "TAKE it down!" before finally hitting on "TONE it down!" That's a trappy trap. "The Gondoliers" nurse? Ugh, no. No. Maleskish opera fuddiduddiness (INEZ). INEZ is my grandmother's name. There's gotta be a better clue. I liked the odd, interesting clue on GENTLER (21A: Like George Bush's promised nation), though it's really half-like said nation, since the phrase was "kinder, GENTLER nation." I think this was about the time he was saying stuff like America should be more like "The Waltons" and less like "The Simpsons." 1992 was neither kind nor gentle to him. [Summer mountain feature] is really just [Mountain feature] with "Summer" thrown in to fool you, although maybe in winter the mountain is totally covered in SNOW and thus can't be said to have a CAP. I dunno. That's some technical weather stuff I'll let the pros work out. Wanted JORDAN at 44A: He was traded between Chicago teams in 1992 (SOSA).
TRANQ (first spelled TRANK) might apply (9D: Anxiolytic, e.g., for short). Expected something slightly more exotic-sounding for [Sichuan cooking ingredient] (CHILI OIL). I know JAN STEEN from many a crossword (35D: Dutch Golden Age painter), and he certainly helped in that SW corner, where TREN (59A: Autobús alternative) and MALE (53A: Like some plugs) could easily have stayed hidden a lot longer. Guessed SERAPE with just the first "E" in place because SERAPE was the crosswordesiest thing I could think of that fit. This helped a lot with ISOPODS, which came easily as a result of that "P" (40D: Wood lice and pill bugs). I admire the clue on MR. T because it didn't help at all (53D: Star of the motivational video "Be Somebody ... or Be Somebody's Fool"), but when I finally solved it I was able to see the "hint" in the clue ("Fool!"), and so had a satisfying little aha moment after all.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld