Gulf of Finland feeder / THU 1-24-13 / Madness put to good uses per George Santayana / Several Boris Gudonov parts / Decorative melody added above simple musical theme / Title boy in Humperdinck opera / Small image displayed in browser's address bar
Thursday, January 24, 2013
Constructor: Michael Shteyman
Relative difficulty: Medium (6:25)
THEME: -TRA — I think.
Word of the Day: DESCANT (66A: Decorative melody added above a simple musical theme) —
- also dis·cant (dĭs'-) Music.
- An ornamental melody or counterpoint sung or played above a theme.
- The highest part sung in part music.
- A discussion or discourse on a theme.
Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/descant#ixzz2IrLrLx5l
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Unless there's something I'm missing, I'd hardly call this a theme. It's essentially a (pretty decent) themeless w/ a bunch of symmetrically arranged answers that end in -TRA. Shteyman brings the Russian yet again, but this time in a more subtle, less obscure kind of way (via NEVA, TSARS, and Mussorgsky (50A: Several "Boris Gudonov" parts => BASSI). You've got at least three stray TRAs in this grid, which I find mildly distracting (though not abhorrent). Couple of partials right off the bat (A PAR, AN IN), some awkward plurals (ERICS, AFTS). Some interesting fill here and there, like FAVICON (17A: Small image displayed in a browser's address bar) and the Porsche CARERRA (65A: Line of Porsches whose name is Spanish for "race"). Not much to say about this one. I did it. My time was normal. Nothing really held me back. The end. (But I'll go on for a bit anyway, just ... 'cause).
- 19A: Subject of a 2010 biography subtitled "The Voice" (FRANK SINATRA)
- 11D: Dangerous family (COSA NOSTRA)
- 20D: Colorful fish (NEON TETRA)
- 39A: Tabloid TV show co-hosted by Mario Lopez ("EXTRA")
- 29D: Affair of the 1980s (IRAN-CONTRA)
- 55A: Compact since 1982 (NISSAN SENTRA)
Got totally stumped (unsurprisingly) by the somewhat high-end musical clues (in this case BASSI — I had -ASSI and still had no idea what was up — and DESCANT). Somewhat slow going early on—even though BANANAS was a gimme (1A: Chiquita import), it was so much of a gimme that I didn't trust it, and when I could only make a couple of the crosses work, I abandoned that corner to work elsewhere. Had BASH for BOFF (1D: Sockeroo). Did not connect the NEVA with the Gulf of Finland (3D: Gulf of Finland feeder). Needed the majority of the crosses to get SANITY (7D: "Madness put to good uses," per George Santayana). REAMER also required nearly every cross to come into view (26D: Metalworker's tool). Basically, if the fill came from a highly specialized vocabulary, it eluded me for a while. ADSORBS I somehow remembered, at least partially (a cross or two triggered it) (16A: Gathers on the surface, as a layer of molecules). I don't quite get how 9D: First lady of the 1910s is just a first name. Usually the clue needs a clear signal that the name will be first and not last. Whose wife is EDITH, anyway? Wilson? Yes, though clue could've read [First lady of the 1900s] and been equally true (T.R.'s second wife was also named EDITH).
OK, now I'm really done.
Today's L.A. Times puzzle is one of mine. I'll link to it as soon as it becomes available. (Try this)
See you tomorrow.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld