Japanese brew / WED 10-3-12 / Mitchum rival / Ving of Hollywood / Hydrologist's field / Tokyo formerly / Kind of colony in Papillon
Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Constructor: Gary Cee
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: HIGH / TAIL (35A: With 37-Across, leave quickly ... or what both words in 17-, 21-, 26-, 49-, 56- and 61-Across could be?) — theme answers are all two-word phrases where both words can follow HIGH in familiar phrases
Word of the Day: ALTAI (54D: ___ Mountains (Asian range)) —
The Altai Mountains (Altay Mountains) are a mountain range in East-Central Asia, whereRussia, China, Mongolia and Kazakhstan come together, and where the rivers Irtysh and Obhave their sources. The Altai Mountains are known as the original locus of the speakers ofTurkic as well as other members of the proposed Altaic language group. The northwest end of the range is at 52° N and between 84° and 90° E (where it merges with the Sayan Mountains to the east), and extends southeast from there to about 45° N and 99° E, where it gradually becomes lower and merges into the high plateau of the Gobi Desert. (wikipedia)
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MACAO; 18D: Hydrologist's field: Abbr. = GEOL.). I did find the SE corner a bit toughish, as I had never heard of a MASSCARD. Staring at a blank quadrant, I just threw down ARRID on a hunch, and it paid off (55A: Mitchum rival). Got ADDENDS and then the rest of that section fell into place. The grid is mostly nicely and simply filled, with a healthy assortment of Scrabbly letters that don't feel too forced (though I'm no fan of DUZ; 25A: Detergent with a glass in every box, long ago). My favorite answer of the day is RAN HARD (2D: Mounted a fierce campaign). Maybe this is because it's election season, but it feels pretty original and very in-the-language.
The theme is dense, I'll give it that. And it seems to work nicely (though I don't know what a HIGH TEST is). My main problem is that HIGHTAIL is one word. No idea how splitting it into two words here is legit. Also, I've never seen HIGHTAIL not followed by "it." So as revealers go, I'm finding it awkward. Beyond that, not many big-picture points to make.
- 17A: Athlete's booster (ENERGY BAR)
- 21A: Subject of a Car and Driver report (ROAD TEST)
- 26A: Where to paint a model (ART CLASS)
- 49A: Catholic remembrance (MASS CARD)
- 56A: Tipoff (JUMP BALL)
- 61A: x (TIMES SIGN)
- 20A: Ving of Hollywood (RHAMES) — haven't thought about him in a while. Maybe not since "Pulp Fiction."
- 34A: Kind of colony in "Papillon" (LEPER) — I'd've thought PENAL, but it's been a long, long time since I even thought about that movie.
- 52A: Tokyo, formerly (EDO) — one of only a few crusty old-timey answers in the grid.
- 7D: Salutation in an old-fashioned love letter (DEAREST) — because in the olden days, people used to be named "Est."