Movement founded by Yasser Arafat / THU 9-27-12 / Part of metaphorical ladder / Batman villain in cryogenic suit / Classic 1740 romance subtitled Virtue Rewarded / Speechwriter Read My Lips No New Taxes / Classical musician whose career has had its ups and downs
Thursday, September 27, 2012
Constructor: Joel Fagliano
Relative difficulty: Challenging
THEME: ON/OFF SWITCH (56A: Toggle ... or a hint to 18-, 29- and 45-Across) — OFF and ON are switched in familiar phrases, creating ... well, gibberish
Word of the Day: AL FATAH (7D: Movement founded by Yasser Arafat) —
Fataḥ (Arabic: فتح Fatḥ) (also known as Fateh, Levantine Arabic: [ˈfateħ]) is a majorPalestinian political party and the largest faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization(PLO), a multi-party confederation. Though it is on the left wing of Palestinian politics, its character is primarily nationalist rather than social democratic. (wikipedia)
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FROFFT ON ICE meant something, but it doesn't. Also not thrilled by the fact that some of the ONs and OFFs are self-standing words, and some are just letter strings from inside other words. Actually, it's about 50/50 on that count (neither ON/OFF is self-standing in first theme answer, both of them are in the second, half of them are in the third). Feels ragged. Clever, tough to suss out, but ragged. Then there's the grid, which is mostly nice—largely clean, full of interesting answers and original clues. I got crushed in the NW, where I could not see ON PAROLE at all (2D: Out, in a way), and had no idea about JOB (1A: Part of a metaphorical ladder) or (esp.) JUG (!?) (1D: ___-eared). So I just stared at this little patch of empty space and had no idea what to do with it. Wasn't even that sure about UNA. Hard and unrewarding (JUG-eared is a thing I guess I've heard of, but ... not fond of that clue at all). Then there was TEBOW. I had all the middle letters and still had no idea. Getting TEBOW was possibly the worst thing about this solve. Took me forever to get it, and when I got it, I was repulsed. I mean, of course it's TEBOW, but talk about not deserving it. Ugh. UGH. So many great, deserving athletes in America and the most popular is ... that guy. I'm sure he's nice. That's what I hear. But struggling like crazy to get an answer that you find ridiculous is not pleasant. I literally groaned when I got that one. "Silly me, I was thinking of athletes who have had some professional success, won titles, etc." In other news, Romney thinks Jack Nicklaus was the "greatest athlete of the 20th century." Smh.
IN A WAY (65A: To some extent) is IN A CLUE (see 2D), so ... that probably shouldn't happen.
- 18A: Sports team management group (FROFFT ONICE)
- 29A: Digress (GO ON OFF A TANGENT)
- 45A: What a mayor wins, usually (ON-YEAR ELECTIOFF)
RON Swanson is my hero, and one of the few outright gimmes I had today (10D: ___ Swanson, "Parks and Recreation" boss). See also MR. FREEZE (38D: "Batman" villain in a cryogenic suit) and SCOTSMAN (37D: Arthur Conan Doyle, e.g.). The little bit of trouble I had in the SW would've been a whole lotta trouble if I hadn't had friends who were 18th-century literature specialists, through whom I know of the existence of "PAMELA" (62A: Classic 1740 romance subtitled "Virtue Rewarded"). Kind of a mean clue on NOONAN (46D: Speechwriter who coined the phrase "Read my lips: no new taxes"); I mean, that phrase was a millstone in the '92 election. I see where the YO-YO MA clue is going with the up/down YO-YO thing (47D: Classical musician whose career has had its ups and downs?), but don't like it, primarily because it has zero relation to the cellist's actual career or music (though I guess one could think of notes on a scale as going up and down ... nope, still don't like it).
P.S. Happy 9th anniversary to my wife, Sandy.
P.P.S. Happy belated birthday to this blog (9/25). Six. Years. Wow. Really? That's like ... 93 in CAT YEARS.