Astrologer Dixon / FRI 11-2-12 / Korean liquor similar to sake / Barrio kinsman / Topic de Freud / 1962 film starring Elvis Presley as boxer
Friday, November 2, 2012
Constructor: Derek Bowman
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
Word of the Day: CARIBES (28A: Piranhas) —
[American Spanish, from Spanish Caribe, Carib; see Carib.](thefreedictionary.com)
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CARIBES kind of put a damper on the whole experience. It's a long, totally uninferrable obscurity, a word that's of zero use to anyone, a word that no one but an ichthyologist and hard-core crossword solver (with a good memory) is going to know, a word of the type that gives crosswords a bad name. That single word slowed me down more than anything else. I couldn't believe it was real. It doesn't even look like it has anything to do with fish. I mean, I don't like EGER much as an answer either, but it's a real place in the world (9D: Hungarian city that has hosted two World Puzzle Championships). A reasonable bit of geography trivia. Nothing close to the same can be said for CARIBES.
ENDLESS STRUGGLE is vague and lifeless as a phrase (38A: Battle of good versus evil, e.g.), but most of the other longish stuff in the grid has pop. I even liked EPOXY RESIN despite its not meaning a hell of a lot to me (7D: It forms a strong bond). I have a vintage paperback version of the boxing story "KID GALAHAD" (27D: 1962 film starring Elvis Presley as a boxer) so that was a familiar face, as was TOBIAS Wolff (10D: "This Boy's Life" author Wolff). But there weren't that many gimmes for me today, and I made a ton of mistakes. Never heard of SOJU (though I like it as an answer) (52D: Korean liquor similar to sake). The SE corner was especially tough for me. Always dicey when you cross-reference answers in the same quadrant (SNOWFALLS and INCH). Then throw in lots of potentially misleading cluing, and you've got trouble. I couldn't decide between THE WEB (46D: What's used for site-seeing?) or THE NET. I had both POKE and PUSH before I figured out PSST (54D: Nudge alternative). I had PINE for PLOD (57D: Lumber) and SLAM for SLUG (58D: Hard punch). So, outside of the general vicinity of CARIBES, the SE was the real causer of slowness today. Aside from EMU for ELK (25A: Leather variety), no other significant missteps; just methodical, steady progress.
- 52A: 1990s girl group member with a tongue piercing (SCARY SPICE) — first three words of the clue were a dead give away for the last five letters of the answer, and a cross or two took care of the first five letters. You might also see SCARY SPICE in the puzzle as MEL B.
- 8D: Topic de Freud (RÊVE) — Took me a while. I wonder if anyone else considered "IDÉE" a first.
- 45D: Tom of "Tomorrow" (SNYDER) — Tom Tomorrow writes a comic called "This Modern World." This is all I could think of until the "Y" made me remember that Tom SNYDER once existed.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld