Third Uncle singer / WED 9-19-12 / Expo 74 locale / on Don Russian port 1+ million / Wassily Russian-American Nobelist in Economics / Justin Bieber's genre / For hire org of 1930s / Clay pigeon launcher
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Constructor: Michael Shteyman
Relative difficulty: Challenging
THEME: the saying "FOOL ME ONCE (7D: Start of a four-part saying) / SHAME ON YOU / FOOL ME TWICE / SHAME ON ME," I guess
Word of the Day: ROSTOV-on-Don (1A: ___-on-Don, Russian port of 1+ million) —
Rostov-on-Don (Russian: Ростóв-на-Донý, tr. Rostov-na-Donu; IPA: [rɐˈstof nə dɐˈnu]) is a port city which is the administrative center of Rostov Oblast and theSouthern Federal District of Russia. It lies on the Don River, 32 kilometers (20 mi) from the Sea of Azov. In 2012, the city's population was recorded at 1,089,851 (2010 Census preliminary results); 1,068,267 (2002 Census); 1,019,305 (1989 Census).
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Did not enjoy the theme—no clever clue, no ... nothing. Just a "saying" that you had to figure out from crosses. And once you did, as I say, it just filled itself in. No challenge. Just write. Then there's the jarring difficulty contrast of the corners, which were all Thur.-to-Sat. tough, and not in enjoyable ways. The overdose of Russian stuff (ROSTOV?? LEONTIEF??!?!?!) (16A: Wassily ___, Russian-American Nobelist in Economics) just soured me on the whole puzzle. Nothing against Russian stuff, per se, or any country's stuff. It's just ... here ... it's too much of one thing. And so many "?" clues (of varying quality) ... there's a limit, and this puzzle crossed it. (I don't know what the limit is, but I'm gonna say yes, 10, on a Wednesday, is crossing it).
TRAP (34A: Clay pigeon launcher), ENO (31A: "Third Uncle" singer), ORNATE, COASTER (clue seems to imply *roller* COASTER; 10D: Ride up and down?), ALTOONA (11D: City in the Alleghenies), and even TEEN POP (12D: Justin Bieber's genre) (I would've thought just POP)—none of them meant anything to me. But I think my frustration and annoyance at the puzzle in general was getting to me by this point (the last quadrant I solved) because once I got TINT (9D: Window treatment), and thus the first 3 letters of all the Acrosses, they all became instantly obvious. How did I not see them before? SHAME ON ME.
DAT). Very nice clue. Also baffled by [Urgent]. Had E-IGENT and still no idea. Until I did. EXIGENT! Good word. Also, though EARWAX is gross, it's a nice crossword answer (I knew the "cer-" part of [Cerumen] meant "wax," but otherwise, I was stumped). Just had a bunch of email exchanges with readers about the poem "Invictus," which included various movie references, so FREEMAN was one of the blessedly easy answers in today's grid (63A: Mandela portrayer in "Invictus," 2009). Wanted the "For hire" part of the clue at 49A: "For hire" org. of the 1930s (WPA) to be part of some saying (like, say, "Spenser: For Hire"), but couldn't think of one. Had no idea, or forgot, that SPOKANE ever had an Expo (3D: Expo '74 locale). We flew into there on our way to Idaho a couple years ago. It seemed lovely, but we only saw it from the periphery, so, who knows? (besides, presumably, Spokaneans).
Glad this one's behind me.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld