Wendy's creator / FRI 12-7-12 / Phil of poker fame / Broth left after boiling greens in South / 2004 #1 hit for Fantasia / Ion indicator / Something lame in modern slang / First last name in Baseball Hall of Fame / Sierra Nevada competitor
Friday, December 7, 2012
Constructor: Peter Wentz
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
Word of the Day: Bill HADER (47A: "S.N.L." comic Bill) —
William "Bill" Hader (born June 7, 1978) is an American actor, comedian, producer and writer. He is best known for his work as a cast member onSaturday Night Live and for his supporting roles in comedy films such as Superbad, Hot Rod, Tropic Thunder, Adventureland, Paul, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian. (wikipedia)
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Was headed toward something close to a record Friday time until I hit the SE, where JANE ROE and SARANAC'S and COO, all wrong, all tripped me up. Well, JANE ROE is sure enough *right* (see, for instance Roe v. Wad), just not right for this puzzle. And a COO could come from a "field" (as could a BOO, which I also considered). SARANAC doesn't have an "S" on the end, but it is indeed a brand of beer. Anyhow, after torching 80% of the grid, I ground to a short but painful halt there at the end before setting everything right. What ended up saving me was running the alphabet at DA-ES for [Skirts]. Great clue (who doesn't love dated sexist lingo!?), but hard as hell. I'm actually surprised I didn't run right past "M," as that meaning of "skirts" as not on my RADARS (40D: Some highway patrol equipment) at all. I was thinking only of a synonym for "evades." I also took out HAHA initially so I could write in comic Bill MAHER—this is why it's so important to actually read the clue (MAHER is not on "S.N.L."). HADER has a lot of crossword potential and I'm surprised it doesn't show up more often. Maybe as his tenure on the show gets longer, that'll change. Let's see, what other issues were there? Oh, I certainly have never heard of POT LIKKER (9D: Broth left after boiling greens, in the South). Never. Not ever. If I hadn't been dead certain of (and totally enamored with) WEAK SAUCE (27A: Something lame, in modern slang), I wouldn't have believed that preposterous double-K. Not knowing the POT part made the NE somewhat hard to get into. That's about the hardest clue you'll ever see for OCELOT (16A: Animal whose name comes from Nahuatl), and close to the hardest you'll see for YEW (11D: Tree that symbolizes immortality). But I took a flier on CLAY and then got YAO and somehow managed to fill those Acrosses in from the back end. Elsewhere, I had CAN I GO instead of MAY I GO, and GETS ANGRY instead of GETS UPSET (I won't be alone there). Rest was a cakewalk.
Puzzle lobbed a softball at me with 1A: Wendy's creator (J.M. BARRIE). Plunked that answer in immediately and the NW practically filled itself in from there. Turning that corner from the NW into the center of the grid was a little tricky. GETS ANGRY was wrong, and ON A ... wasn't getting me anywhere at 36A: Requiring no effort to take. But I knew ASSAD, and somehow, even with the wrong ANGRY written in, I was able to gather that 34D: Ion indicator was PLUS SIGN. This got me into the SW and the middle. Then I gingerly took care of the NE before briefly tanking in the SE (as described above). The end.
Here is something that is not WEAK SAUCE—my favorite "Gangnam Style"-inspired video by far (made by Albert Chang, a kid who goes to my alma mater, Pomona College; this makes him a classmate of crossword constructor and erstwhile Will Shortz assistant Joel Fagliano):
[Eat your heart out, AI WEIWEI]
- 15A: 2004 #1 hit for Fantasia ("I BELIEVE") — I believe many people will have forgotten completely about this song, if they ever knew it to begin with. I knew it. I think I own it.
- 20A: Colore ufficiale of the Italian football team (BLU) — My Spidey-sense tells me this is Italian for "blue."
- 32A: What's generally spotted early on? (CHICKEN POX) — really wanted CHICKEN EGG. Eggs can be speckled, yes? Yes. But I had WEAK SAUCE in place and knew that nothing could possibly start UE- (at 28D: Freely contestable) so I never even wrote in EGG.
- 33A: Sound trademark of 20th Century Fox ("D'OH!") — I don't think I've ever seen the term "sound trademark" before. Presumably the clue refers to Dan Castellaneta, as the voice of Homer, saying "D'OH!"
- 14D: Springfield Elementary employee (OTTO) — two "Simpsons" clues?! Mock outrage!
- 45D: First or last name in the Baseball Hall of Fame (HOYT) — I love this clue, even though I can remember only one of the HOYTs (HOYT Wilhelm). Hmmm, other guy is Waite HOYT, whom I couldn't remember because I've never heard of him.
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