Afghan province or its capital / SAT 12-22-12 / Broadway's in Fashion artist / Owner of Bill Me Later / Birthplace of Rex Stout Kurt Vonnegut / Lloyd in College Football Hall of Fame / Its first CEO was W.W. I hero Eddie Rickenbacker / Big check-printing co. / Singer of 2010 #1 hit Rude Boy
Saturday, December 22, 2012
Constructor: Tim Croce
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
Word of the Day: HERAT (25D: Afghan province or its capital) —
Herāt is the capital of Herat province in Afghanistan. It is the third largest city of Afghanistan, with a population of about 397,456 as of 2006. It is situated in the valley of the Hari River, which flows from the mountains of central Afghanistan to the Karakum Desert in Turkmenistan. The city is linked with Kandahar andMazar-e-Sharif via highway 1 or the ring road that stretches across the country. It is also linked to the city of Mashad inIran through the border town of Islam Qala. (wikipedia)
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I see a face. Do you see a face? I see a face. It's like the face of the losing robot in Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots. Or Thing from "X-Men." A little like him. This puzzle was fun to look at, and even somewhat fun to solve. It got less fun as I moved from top to bottom (2/3 of those bottom 15s don't feel like real things, and PREV and -ESCE are ... well, they're PREV and -ESCE), but I found the top quite entertaining. The top furnished me with one of the odder solving experiences I've had in my career. I got 1D. Then I got 2D. Then 3D. And 4D. And 5D. Didn't know 6D, but just by looking at what was in place so far (and without looking at any of the Across clues), I got 6D. That's 6 Downs in a row, on a Saturday, with no crosses in place. That is cray. Zee. I was also, then, able to guess I STAND CORRECTED without ever looking at the clue (though I did, in fact, look at the clue; just to be sure). All those Acrosses up there are solid, and none of the Down crosses make me want to barf, so that is some good work. Middle was a little tougher, despite getting --THESAYINGGOES pretty quickly (didn't know if it was AS or SO that led off that phrase). My one gimme in the east was also my greatest source of trouble. I must've spelled RIHANNA about six different ways before I hit on the right one (35A: Singer of the 2010 #1 hit "Rude Boy"). Also had GHOST for GHOUL and ONE TO instead of ONE IN. West was much harder to get into, even after I got EASTERN AIRLINES. I had ABIDE and little else over there. Oh, TREES. I had TREES. But SURER and SAFER before SANER. Never heard of HERAT. So that section took a little work. Bottom was rough at first pass—none of the short Downs in the SW were coming (except DEN and -ESCE, which I didn't quite believe was right). But the Downs in the SE were a little more friendly, and finally NEAREST RELATIVE came into view. I think the last letter in the grid was the "C" in CARR (which, like HERAT, I'd never heard of) (46D: Lloyd in the College Football Hall of Fame).
Took a while to come up with DREADED for [Like a bugbear]. Seemed like it could be a million different adjectives. Is a "bugbear" a real creature, or just a creature-sounding term? Oooh, second def. is "An imaginary being invoked to frighten children, typically a sort of hobgoblin supposed to devour them." Cool. Before this puzzle, I couldn't name *any* check-printing co., big or small. Needless to say, never heard of ADP. EXERCISE TRAINER is a term I have literally never heard (57A: One whose goal is changing shape?). I think in America we call them PERSONAL TRAINERs. I think that's all. A weird, mostly enjoyable puzzle.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld