Small boat made of wickerwork / SUN 12-23-12 / Unhappy king of legend / 1970 hit for Neil Diamond / Lost-parcel inquiries / Revolutionary 1960s Chinese youth / Rapper who played Brother Sam on Dexter / Long-running TV show featuring Hortons Bradys / 1996 Olympian noted for performing on injured ankle
Sunday, December 23, 2012
Constructor: Joe DiPietro
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: "Bywords" — circled letters form literal representations of "___ BY ___" phrases
Word of the Day: CORACLE (71D: Small boat made of wickerwork) —
A small rounded boat made of waterproof material stretched over a wicker or wooden frame.
[Welsh corwgl, from Middle Irish curach, from Old Irish.]
Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/coracle#ixzz2FpIY3n75
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Cute and easy puzzle. GO (by) TRAIN is weaksauce, but the rest hold up nicely. Would've loved to have seen ONE IF (by) LAND and TWO IF (by) SEA, but both ONE and TWO are already used in the grid. I wonder if you could make another puzzle with this identical theme, without repeating a single "BY" phrase, easily. TRIAL (by) FIRE? DEATH (by) CHOCOLATE? LEAD (by) EXAMPLE? The interesting thing about this grid is that the circled words do not exist as complete words in the grid. All the words are masked, embedded in words and phrases that have nothing to do with them, meaning-wise. This would probably be a lot easier to make if, say, TRAIN could've been a self-standing word. Now, this little added bit of difficulty does get you into an ugly predicament or two—witness LANOSE (16D: Woolly), which is hiding "a nose." But mostly I think the gambit pays off. The puzzle is easy as it is; if the circled words weren't truly hidden inside their answers, the puzzle would've felt both easier and flatter.
Didn't struggle much anywhere, but I'd say the NW and NE corners were, comparatively, harder than other parts of the grid. I wanted DARNER at 1A: Sewer, at times (now that I think of it, it's strange that the underground, sewage-related "sewer" never occurred to me when reading that clue), but changed to MENDER because of MIDAS (1D: Unhappy king of legend). No idea how REDID is acceptable at 6D: Made de novo—that is a super-ugsome attempt to get a clue echo (see 43A: De novo). Why would you do that? "De novo" is Latin, so [Made de novo] implies a Latin answer. I know the response to that complaint is "but 'de novo' is in the English dictionary, so ..." to which I'd say, "raspberries." Clue should've been [Made 43-Across]. That, I could've accepted. As for the NE, well, there's LANOSE (wtf?), and then just a general vagueness about a lot of the clues leading into that section. Got someth-INGAT, but not the GNAW-. Got AT something, but not the WORK (though that's the only answer that makes sense, in retrospect). Not hard, just somewhat effortful, unlike most of the rest of the grid, which essentially filled itself in.
["Don't wanna live ..."]
I enjoyed a lot of the longer answers in this puzzle, like RED GUARD (59D: Revolutionary 1960s Chinese youth), KERRI STRUG (105A: 1996 Olympian noted for performing on an injured ankle), and "DAYS OF OUR LIVES" (54D: Long-running TV show featuring the Hortons and the Bradys). SCUM seemed a kind of harsh word to apply to people, esp. the [Dregs of society] (not sure whom that's intended to reference), but the word is certainly used that way colloquially all the time, so I can't complain too much. I thought Neil Diamond's "SHILO" had an "H" on the end (42A: 1970 hit for Neil Diamond), but that's a Civil War battle site, not the song. No idea what "F = ma" meant until just now, when I realized it's one of the first equations I learned in Physics: force = mass x acceleration. It's NEWTON's 2nd Law. On the other, non-scientific hand, I had no trouble with 100A: "Fish Magic" painter—either I've seen this clue before, or I've come to associate KLEE with fish, or with incongruous two-word titles. Never seen "Dexter," but I had MOSD- before I ever read 103A: Rapper who played Brother Sam on "Dexter" so I actually knew the answer (MOS DEF) before looking at the clue. I've heard MJ called "The King of Pop" (mainly by MJ and his sponsors), but I've never heard this so-called "Goddess of Pop" moniker allegedly given to CHER. "So-called," Ha ha. By whom and where? These are important questions. I think of TRACERS as bullets, not [Lost-parcel inquiries], so that was another reason I had trouble getting into the NE. Read 49D: Hockey area in front of the crease as [in front of the goal], so my brain just kept going, "crease ... crease ... it's CREASE! Why won't it fit!?" (answer: SLOT). Finally, I feel like this day has been worth living if only because I now know that there is such a thing as a "classic two-line poem about fleas." "ADAM / Had 'em." I really doubt the veracity of the poem, but it *does* rhyme, so ... who can say?
Christmas Eve puzzle is by ... Me! So I won't be here tomorrow. But someone will. One of my sycophants, no doubt. So see you Christmas day! In the meantime, please accept these virtual cookies, courtesy of my baking-crazy daughter.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld