Traveler to Cathay / MON 10-22-12 / Frito-Lay product once sold in a 100% compostable bag / Slangy request for a high-five / Conqueror of the Incas
Monday, October 22, 2012
Constructor: Joel Fagliano
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: UNDERCOVER COP (60A: Sting operative ... or a hint to 20-, 24-, 39- and 55-Across) — "COP" is hidden inside four theme answers:
PUBLIC OPINION (20A: It's measured by polls)
PETCO PARK (24A: Home of the San Diego Padres)
FRANCISCO PIZARRO (39A: Conqueror of the Incas)
MARCO POLO (55A: Traveler to Cathay)
Word of the Day: TANNER (71A: Leather worker) —
One that tans hides. (answers.com)
n. Chiefly British
A sixpenny coin formerly used in Britain; a sixpence.
Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/tanner-1#ixzz29zHFcBd9
• • •
MARCO POLO was mildly tough, but then again I never saw the clue on MARCO POLO because when I first looked at that spot I had enough crosses to tell exactly what the answer was. Love when that happens (usually). Theme answers are at least somewhat interesting, with the ever-popular FRANCISCO PIZARRO forcing the grid to go 16 wide, and PETCO PARK tipping its hat in timely fashion to the baseball season (though the Padres are nowhere to be found). There's an NLCS game on right now, but it's at AT&T Park in S.F. Coincidentally, I just called AT&T (not five minutes ago) to pay my mobile phone bill, which is due today. My tooth woes meant that I basically ignored all responsibilities for something close to two weeks. But I'm improving now, so ... bills paid. Wait, where was I?
Right, the puzzle. Here's something I don't like: OUTMODE (63A: Make obsolete). I only ever see that word in its adjectival form, i.e. "outmoded." It's weird as a verb. ALAMODE and COMMODE (can you use that word?) would fit there. I think I would've liked either of them better. This is an admittedly small issue, but it's an interesting constructor challenge—filling a small section that can be filled many, many different ways. I wonder sometimes what different constructors value in such spots.
UP TOP (9D: Slangy request for a high-five). Pitch-perfect colloquialism, and one I can't remember seeing in the puzzle before. Nice job. I'm slightly less thrilled with the colloquialism TPED (69A: Festooned with bathroom tissue, informally), not because it's not a real thing, but because the spelling seems contrived to me, as it does with the somewhat more common ODED. Never looks right in print. Fine to say, bad to write out. In fact, if I wrote it out, I'd write TP'd (or OD'd). I like the longish, very up-to-date clue on SUN CHIPS (16D: Frito-Lay product once sold in a 100% compostable bag). I believe that's the bag they discontinued because people complained it was too ... noisy. A SUN CHIPS bag that is "too noisy" is about the best example of "first-world problems" that I've ever heard of.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld