Nancy Drew's aunt / SAT 9-8-12 / Cameo voicer Weird Al's I Lost on Jeopardy / Family name in 1869 romance / Character inspired by Fu Manchu / Little Thief's people / Texcoco denizen / Cincinnati baseballer of old / University of Delaware athletes
Saturday, September 8, 2012
Constructor: Byron Walden
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
Word of the Day: RED LEG (45D: Cincinnati baseballer of old) —
Twice in the 1950s (the McCarthy era), the Reds, fearing that their traditional club nickname would associate them with the threat ofCommunism, officially changed the name of the team to the Cincinnati Redlegs. From 1956 to 1960, the club's logo was altered to remove the term "REDS" from the inside of the "wishbone C" symbol. The "REDS" reappeared on the 1961 uniforms, but the point of the Cwas removed, leaving a smooth, non-wishbone curve. The traditional home-uniform logo was restored in 1967. (wikipedia)
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OMOO, AMORES, and GOTCHA), but then got stymied by what ended up being GABY, TONG, HERMIT, BONERS, and YOGA MAT. NE was my first big success. Just getting TERI and OPEN allowed me to put all the long Across answers down quickly, if not immediately. The problem with this grid shape, though, is that it does not allow you to take your success-momentum very far—teeny tiny connections between the quadrants make it very hard to move between them with any sense of confidence. Did that whole damned NW, and what did that give me? Just a "P" to get me into the middle of the grid. Not much help. Knew it should be PRE- or POST- something. So—stuck.
Despite the impressive smoothness of the grid overall, there weren't a lot of answers that excited me. I expected a few more Wows, and while there were some great answers like YOGA MAT (4D: Roll in a locker) and MIDWIVES (20D: Labor group) and VICE COPS (39A: People who need to find a john?), there was a lot of just OK stuff like EX-SENATORS and RYE SEEDS and TENNESSEAN and OMELETTE—all of it solid, but none of it scintillating. I'm sure I'm putting the bar too high here because of the caliber of constructor I'm dealing with. This is some high-quality craftsmanship, for sure, and I definitely enjoyed the workout.
- 18A: Black piecrust component (OREO COOKIE) — piece of cake. Or pie, whatever. COOKIE feels redundant here, but it's technically valid.
- 19A: Conditioner's cousin (CREAM RINSE) — for someone who has never used such a thing (and would have little need of it now), I got this very easily. It's a nice, if non-flashy answer.
- 21A: Mockingbird prey (BEES) — that's one way to hide BEES from me. Luckily, the crosses were all a cinch.
- 24A: President who won 97.6% of the vote in 2007 (ASSAD) — I thought CHAVEZ at first, but his percentages are actually much lower. I think only Saddam Hussein had numbers this high.
- 25A: Cameo voicer on Weird Al Yankovic's "I Lost on Jeopardy"(PARDO) — I love this clue. First two answers that popped into my head were Vanna WHITE and Pat SAJAK ... clearly I had a different game show parody in my head.
- 50A: Pursuit of Pan (ECHO) — uh ... what? OMG I just got this. How embarrassing. Of course. Pan is a god, and he pursues the nymph ECHO in one version of her myth. She spurns him. He doesn't take it well. The result is pretty gruesome.
- 55A: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame doo-wop group from Baltimore (THE ORIOLES) — no idea, but the "Baltimore" part helped me get it very quickly (the NE and SW portions were *by far* the easiest parts of this puzzle).
- 2D: Title shared by works of Ovid and D. H. Lawrence (AMORES) — don't know Lawrence that well, but know Ovid, so no problem.
- 11D: Tantalus' daughter (NIOBE) — more mythology; never saw this clue—just saw a blank square at NIO-E and knew what it had to be.
- 9D: Relative of a carp (DACE) — wow, back-to-back DACE days. What are the odds?
- 28D: Character inspired by Fu Manchu (DR. NO) — I don't think I've seen the movie / read the book, so this wasn't easy ... until I got a letter or two; then I could guess it.
- 44D: Nancy Drew's aunt (ELOISE) — I knew this without really knowing it. The name flashed into my head instantly, but I didn't trust it at all. And then it turned out to be right. Odd.
- 48D: Family name in an 1869 romance (DOONE) — as with ELOISE, doing crosswords helped a lot here. Had no idea, but with a few crosses I could guess it. Still have no idea who / what Lorna DOONE is (besides a brand of cookies).
- 51D: Knights' Square site (PISA) — no idea. If the long answers can be taken down, then the short answers are almost an afterthought.
- 26D: Texcoco denizen (AZTEC) — Had the "A"; not sure what else it was gonna be with that clue. So much of this solving game is a matter of feel, intuition, pattern recognition, and inference. I'm sure a solid body of general knowledge helps, but nothing helps like solving experience.