Comedian/rapper Williams / FRI 12-14-12 / Political adviser Nofziger / Relative of John Bull / Rascal in slang / Sea novel by James Fenimore Cooper / Cubic crystals with perfect cleavage
Friday, December 14, 2012
Constructor: Paula Gamache
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
Word of the Day: GANEF (38A: Rascal, in slang) —
A thief, scoundrel, or rascal.
[Yiddish, from Hebrew gannāb, to steal.]
Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/gonif#ixzz2EzfF1XmO
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More Saturday than Friday for me. Grid looks very nice in retrospect, but the clues were nowhere near my wavelength. Finished with a total Natick at "THE BIG SHORT" / HALITE (4A: 2010 best seller by Michael Lewis / 11D: Cubic crystals with perfect cleavage). I know Michael Lewis as the author of "Moneyball," so I went with "THE BIG SPORT" / PALITE. Clearly I've never ever heard of HALITE, so its probably-clever cleavage clue was totally lost on me. That NE corner was astonishingly resistant today. Only way I got into it was flat-out guessing, with no crosses but the "I," BEATLEMANIA (16A: Fever that reached America in the mid-1960s). Before that, I had virtually nothing up there, despite having *everything* underneath. None of the downs made any sense to me. Couldn't get to HEARTY from -RTY or EAMES from -ES or BTUS from -S or GEL PACKS from -PACKS (me: "ICE"?!) (9D: Flexible injury soothers) or SMARTLY from -RTLY or HALITE from -ITE. The one little tendril I had up there was RITT (13D: "Nuts" director, 1987), which I guessed from the "T" in PRINTS. I wanted ILE at 8D: Trinité, e.g., but was not nearly confident enough to write it in. Very rough going up there. Elsewhere, a typically toughish Friday except in the SW, where "THE RED ROVER" (!?) (56A: Sea novel by James Fenimore Cooper) was a total mystery to me, and where I had STAG for SOLO (48D: Unbanded?) and DEFIN. for DERIV. (44D: Dict. info). Eventually EVAH, fittingly, got me EVA, and that area fell (50A: L'Oréal spokeswoman of the 2000s). For a puzzle that felt like such a slog, I totally lucked out twice with long-answer guesses: BEATLEMANIA (as I mentioned above), and ALICIA KEYS, which I just ... knew. SAKI confirmed that it was so.
Started with WHEES and IOUS and DOC. STAND ASIDE seems poorly clued (1D: Take no preventive action). Taking no action is taking no action—standing aside is an action. Ergo, no. Had a bear of a time coming up with the (Awk!) abbrev. NORW. (19A: Major Eur. oil exporter). I had the -W and couldn't figure out what kind of crazy Euro acronym I was dealing with. Also had trouble with the near-non-word HAILER (41D: Whom a hack watches out for)—and I had just finished watching "Planes, Trains and Automobiles," which opens with an extended cab-hailing sequence. I thought the [Shooter favored by Henri Cartier-Bresson] was a LUGER until I remembered who Henri Cartier-Bresson was. Not sure I know who John Bull is, but I had the -SAM in that answer, so UNCLE seemed a good guess (27A: Relative of John Bull). I couldn't even guess at what "Sullivan & Son" is, so absolutely no hope there ("Sullivan & Sons" airer=TBS). Only reason I got GANEF was because some ghost of crossword past whispered it in my ear. Overall, this was a slog because of the cluing, but the grid (esp. the 10- and 11-stacks in the corners) really does look good.
- 18A: Nominee who was the subject of a 2006 filibuster attempt (SAMUEL ALITO) — who has the same number of letters in his name as JOHN ROBERTS.
- 25A: Comedian/rapper Williams (KATT) — gonna go out on a limb here and say *most* NYT solvers will have no clue who this guy is. I know him only from occasional ads for his comedy specials that run during "The Daily Show" or "The Colbert Report."
- 35A: Bazooka Joe's company (TOPPS) — really wanted BAZOOKA.
- 44A: Virtuous behaviors, in Hinduism (DHARMAS) — don't think I've ever seen this word pluralized. Not sure why not.
- 25D: Publisher with a borzoi logo (KNOPF) — a gimme. My favorite publisher. Their books are (almost) always beautifully designed and produced. KNOPF was Chandler's publisher (from "The Big Sleep" through "The Lady of the Lake").
- 42D: Follower of Ali (SHIITE) — I don't know if this was supposed to be a boxing misdirect, but if so, no dice. Got this off the "I" in SEI (48A: Due tripled).
- 51D: Fish with poisonous roe (GAR) — of course it's GAR. 3-letter fish in a crossword, why did I even hesitate? The only fish I could think of was COD, for some reason.