1952 Brando title role / SUN 2-3-13 / Puppet of old TV / Paavo 1920s Finnish Olympic hero / Clockwork Orange hooligan / Insect's opening for air / French Champagne city / Potter's pedal / Language related to Tahitian / Either end of edge in graph theory / Familiarity breeds contempt children
Sunday, February 3, 2013
Constructor: Dan Schoenholz
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: "A Whiff of Cologne" — long English words borrowed from German
Word of the Day: KAT Dennings (78A: Actress Dennings of "The 40-Year-Old Virgin") —
Kat Dennings (born Katherine Litwack; June 13, 1986) is an American actress. Emerging with a role in an episode of the HBO dramedy series Sex and the City, Dennings has since appeared in the films The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Big Momma's House 2, Charlie Bartlett, Raise Your Voice, The House Bunny, Defendor, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, andThor. She also co-stars in the CBS television series 2 Broke Girls. (wikipedia)
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Somebody's proud of his ethnic heritage. These long words make for an oddly and unexpectedly interesting puzzle framework. Pretty thin (there are only seven theme answers, only about half feel undomesticated / Germanic), but solid. The theme answers themselves are inherently interesting—i.e. if I saw any one of them in a regular old themeless grid, I'd probably be impressed. So thematically, no great shakes, but still fun to solve. Fill-wise, it's a very solid effort. BEERY is terrible (79A: Like many a fraternity party), but I'll chalk that up as a bonus German answer—hinting at the missing OKTOBERFEST, maybe. Otherwise, nary a groan from me, possibly because I barely had time to groan or emit other noises, as I absolutely torched this grid. Under 9 minutes?! That's nuts for a Sunday. I figured 1A: Pop-___ was TARTS, so I mentally wrote it in and then worked the Downs. Got all of them, immediately—a good sign that a puzzle's gonna roll over fairly easily. I forgot the exact spelling / pronunciation of NURMI (22D: Paavo ___, 1920s Finnish Olympic hero), so that was a minor issue, and the KAT / MITE / MINER section gave me a legitimate scare at the end, when I thought I might get flat-out stopped there at the finish line. But reason / process of elimination prevailed. Only word I'd absolutely never heard of was SPIRACLE (80A: Insect's opening for air), but the crosses made my ignorance practically irrelevant.
- 21A: Alternative to white (PUMPERNICKEL)
- 102A: Low grade? (KINDERGARTEN)
- 44D: Rapper? (POLTERGEIST) — probably the hardest of the theme answers for me to turn up—not surprising, given the clue's vagueness and "?"-ness.
- 30D: It's a blessing (GESUNDHEIT)
- 15D: Novel that focuses on character growth (BILDUNGSROMAN)
- 46D: Forceful advance (BLITZKRIEG)
- 50D: Informal social gathering (KAFFEEKLATSCH)
I was quite fond of PIPE IN (18D: Import, as water or music) and UPRIVER (25A: Like St. Louis vis-à-vis New Orleans), as well as the clue on 1D: Alternatives to comb-overs (TOUPEES). Loved the quote used in the TWAIN clue (36A: Who said "Familiarity breeds contempt—and children"). The clue on ZAPATA (68A: 1952 Brando title role) might have taken me a while to get if it hadn't been for BLITZKRIEG. As it was, I had the "Z," so—piece of cake. The "Clockwork Orange" hooligan was much easier to get (ALEX), though I *still* want him to be an ALEC. Not sure why, but Kukla, Fran and OLLIE were the first thing that came to mind at 85A: Puppet of old TV. Lucky. I did not know REIMS was a [French Champagne city], but I am aware that it is a city that exists, so with the R--MS in place: easy. Took a while to get TREADLE (largely because of my aforementioned POLTERGEIST problems—once I had that "T," TREADLE was a cinch) (96A: Potter's pedal). As you can see, there really weren't a lot of big or interesting moments in this solve. Just your typical little snags and eventual workarounds.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld