French wave / SUN 12-2-12 / Small rented farms in Britain / Woodcutter of legend / 1957 #1 R&B hit for Chuck Willis / Nuuanu Pali Lookout locale / 11th century king of Denmark / Belarus neighbor
Sunday, December 2, 2012
Constructor: Steven E. Atwood
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: "Lo and Behold" — "LO" is added to familiar phrases, creating wacky phrases, which are clued "?"-style
Word of the Day: Clive BARNES (11D: Critic Clive) —
Clive Alexander Barnes CBE (May 13, 1927 – November 19, 2008) was a British-born American writer and critic. From 1965 to 1977 he was the dance and theater critic for the New York Times, the most powerful position he had held, since its theater critics' reviews historically have had great influence on the success or failure of Broadway productions. (wikipedia)
• • •A simple theme that yields pretty decent results. Lots of white space meant lots of 7+-letter answers meant a Sunday puzzle that felt a little tougher than usual. Some of the LO-answers were easy to come up with (e.g. LOIN JOKE), others took some effort (e.g. GLOAMING TABLE). A puzzle with some teeth that is mostly clean in terms of fill—that's enough to make me happy most Sundays, including today.
Only a few unappealing areas. Don't like A BUST and A PEST, especially so close to each other. The SE corner, with its IDAS / DSCS / SYNS mash-up, is awfully ugly. AS FAR / AME / SHAR isn't much better. I'm surprised at the foreign words required today—neither PUER not ONDE (31A: French wave) strikes me as something your average, or even your reasonably well-educated, solver would/should know (I knew both, but I also have a Ph.D. in medieval literature, so I oughta know both). Otherwise, I got nothing to fault this puzzle for. Had trouble putting together longer stuff like FOLK HERO and LIVORNO (42A: Italian port on the Tyrrhenian Sea) early on. Had no idea ALI BABA cut wood (20A: Woodcutter of legend). Was sure that the "Facebook" part of the clue at 5A: A pop group might have one on Facebook indicated something internet-specific, namely FAN PAGE. Later, FAN SITE. But no ... it's just a FAN CLUB. Don't like the disingenuousness of that clue, then, I guess, but again, that's a pretty minor quibble. None of the theme answers really tickled my funny bone except LOIN JOKE, though I do like the idea of FLOAT TUESDAY. I would participate in that particular celebration, with pleasure.
Just a few missteps and struggles. At first, I thought 1D: Loan figs. (PCTS) were APRS (?) and, as a result, that 19A: Head of a family (CAPO) was PAPA. Never heard of the place in the clue for OAHU, but it seemed Hawaiian, and in four letters, it's almost always gonna be OAHU or MAUI ... maybe HILO. LATVIA (9D: Belarus neighbor) was hard to see because of my FAN PAGE and FAN SITE errors. "C.C. RIDER" is always a tricky one to uncover (14D: 1957 #1 R&B hit for Chuck Willis). Maybe I should remember to associate it with this Chuck Willis guy I've never heard of. Needed almost every letter to get AKRON, which is just embarrassing. Less embarrassing is not being able to come up with CROFTS (95D: Small rented farms, in Britain). Not a lot of small rented British farms around these parts.
- 23A: Consideration in choosing a deli? (THE LOX FACTOR)
- 28A: Part of a butcher's stand-up routine? (LOIN JOKE)
- 35A: Laundry basket of just colors or just whites? (CLASSIFIED LOAD) — I don't think I quite get the "classified" here. [Top secret] would've hit the "classified" part more clearly (and entertainingly)
- 46A: Wise lawmaker most likely to be re-elected? (FAVORITE SOLON)
- 61A: Artistic expression on the slopes? (SLALOM DANCING)
- 67A: Causing Election delays? (SLOWING VOTERS)
- 84A: Chart indicating the progression of darkness after sunset? (GLOAMING TABLE)
- 93A: Power in Hollywood? (DIRECTOR'S CLOUT)
- 103A: Paintball weapons? (BLOB GUNS)
- 113A: When there might be a two-for-one special on ice cream drinks? (FLOAT TUESDAY)