Old-time actress Normand / TUE 12-11-12 / Persian fairy / Havana beauty maybe / Sot's peril / Licorice flavorer / Illusory pictures / Loamy soil
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Constructor: Gene Newman
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: The eight reindeer of SAINT NICHOLAS (35A: Figure associated with eight answers in this puzzle) — eight reindeer names appear in the grid, each clued in non-reindeer fashion
Word of the Day: ARIANA Grande (2D: Actress Grande) —
Ariana Grande-Butera, (born June 26, 1993) known professionally as Ariana Grande, is an American actress, singer, and dancer. She made her performance debut on Broadway at age 15, originating the role of Charlotte in 13 in 2008. Recently, she has gained attention for her role as Cat Valentine on the Nickelodeon sitcom Victorious, which she will reprise in Sam & Cat, a spinoff of iCarly and Victorious. (wikipedia)
• • •It's weird when you guess a theme based on an answer so bad you realize it can't be serious (today, 1D: 100-meter competitor, e.g. for DASHER). There's no way you would clue DASHER in a non-reindeer way ... unless! And so the rest of the puzzle was essentially themeless puzzle with reindeer names. Puzzle gave me more trouble than Tuesdays normally do. First off, I couldn't get out of the NW. 21D: "Good as done" didn't scream "I'M ON IT" to me. "I'M ... something! Who knows?" And since that was the only way out of the NW, I had to reboot, but had some trouble in the middle, as clues on stuff like NEW AGE (31A: Kind of music not known for its beat) and SEA LIONS (35D: Fish-eating creatures) and even CHAIR (27A: Professorship) were not at all obvious to me (I know many professors who do not hold CHAIRs). Then there was the self-imposed difficulty brought about by my forgetting the theme, i.e. who the hell knows [Flash: Ger.] except Germans? Then there was the utter made-up-edness of MISS CUBA (11D: Havana beauty, maybe), which I actually kind of like for its brazen arbitrariness (I assume I can go ahead with MISS BELIZE in my next themeless puzzle). Then there's CWT, which I never see outside of crosswords (27D: 100 pounds: Abbr.). The end result was slower than normal time and a mildly interesting reindeer hunt.
- 20A: Home that usually has a tile roof (HACIENDA) — as usual, the longer answers are the more interesting answers. As Spanish answers go, I much prefer this one to the strange-looking RARO nearby (26A: Uncommon: Sp.).
- 33A: Old-time actress Normand (MABEL) — I had the "M" and wrote in MERLE, which is kinda funny, if you know anything about cosmetics.
- 8D: Sot's peril (DTS) — delirium tremens, an affliction I learned about from crosswords circa twenty years ago. I feel as if there's been a serious fall-off in the number of sot-related clues and answers lately. Puzzle used to be loaded (!) with them.
- 51D: Persian fairy (PERI) — rhymes with "fairy" and all its letters are contained in "Persian." Alternate clue: [Actress Gilpin of "Frasier"].