O Henry Award winner for Livvie is Back / TUE 10-30-12 / Mystery writer John Dickson / Spanish liqueur / Double curve / Old welfare measure / 1944 battle site
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Constructor: Alex Vratsanos
Relative difficulty: Medium Rare
THEME: Political Spectrum — Circled letters, reading from top to bottom, spell out political positions, from far left to far right.
Word of the Day: SANDY —
Sandy (singer), on Wikipedia.
• • •"A sad beauty in the world." Isn't that special? Howdy, folks. Doug here, filling in for Rex, who's battened down the hatches and stocked up on Hurricane Chow as he waits for Sandy to land. Here's an early report from Rex Parker HQ: "Still nothing here to speak of. My deep sympathies to NYC, which appears quite messed up." Stay safe, East Coasters!
Interesting theme today. I'm surprised that Will didn't save it for next Tuesday, Election Day. Maybe he has a doozy scheduled for November 6th.
- 1D / 26D / 51D : RADS /OBIS / FOCAL - RADICAL
- 4D / 38D: LIBRAS / E NATURAL - LIBERAL
- 7D / 29D / 56D: MODS / ERI TU / FATE - MODERATE
- 10D / 50D: CONSERVE / ACTIVE - CONSERVATIVE
- 13D / 36D / 59D: REACH / TIOS / NARY - REACTIONARY
Now for the bad stuff. Because of the way the theme is structured, there are no entries longer than eight letters in the grid. And that's my main beef. The long entries in a puzzle are usually the most memorable entries, the ones that sparkle. The longest entries in this grid are STERNUMS, E NATURAL, FOURTEEN, and CONSERVE. Not much sparkle there. Was the theme interesting enough to make up for the lack of long answers? I report, you decide.
And that last eight-letter entry, CONSERVE, made me cringe for another reason. CONSERVE and CONSERVATIVE are practically the same word. Look at REACTIONARY. That's the way to disguise an answer. It's split up among three words that have nothing to do with "react" or "reaction." Well done. But using CONSERVE to hide part of CONSERVATIVE is a major flaw.
- 17A: Competition for 3-year-olds (DERBY) — Did you know that all thoroughbred horses have the same birthday, January 1st? If you're a thoroughbred born during 2012, no matter what day, you're assigned the birthday 1/1/2012. It makes it easier to keep track of which horses are three-year-olds, etc. So if you're a horse with a Facebook account, on January 1st, you get an alert that says "371 of your friends have birthdays today."
- 22A: Resin in varnish (MASTIC) — That's a tough entry. When I read the clue, I thought it was going to be ELEMI, or maybe ELENI. I always confuse those two. Trust me, one of them is a dreaded "Varnish resin." Other toughies in this grid include OGEE, URANO, ENOL, SENNA, ANIS, and ANZIO.
- 30A: Roy G. ___ (BIV) — He was my favorite member of Bell Biv Devoe.
- 49A: "The Hitler Diaries" and others (HOAXES) — That's a nice clue. I was big into WWII when I was in junior high and high school, and I remember reading everything I could find on the diaries and the forgers behind the hoax. And this was before the internet, so it was hard to find stuff! Especially when the Billings Gazette was your local newspaper.
- 28D: Like certain odds, paradoxically (EVEN) — Are even odds really a paradox? More of an oxymoron.
- 34D: Quizmaster Trebek (ALEX) — Aha! The constructor snuck his name into the grid. Nice touch, Alex, but I want to see VRATSANOS in your next one.
Signed, Doug Peterson, Factotum of CrossWorld