Apiarist's facial display / THU 2-21-13 / Grand ungodly godlike man of fiction / Biblical hunter / Last Pope Paulo numerically / Bewitched wife familiarly / wonder Tone Loc Crowded House / Offenbach's belle nuit o nuit d'amour
Thursday, February 21, 2013
Constructor: Paul Hunsberger
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: ROUGH / AROUND THE / EDGES (32D: With 21- and 25-Down, lacking refinement ... like this puzzle's grid) — letter string "ROUGH" appears once on each side of the grid (in DROUGHT, BOROUGHS, TROUGHS, and THOROUGH)
Word of the Day: RED ALE (2D: Traditional Irish brew) —
Irish Red Ale, also known simply as Irish Ale or Red Ale, is a style of sweet, malty ale brewed by many Irish breweries. The red color comes from the use of small amounts of dark or roasted grains. Despite the name, this beer style may also be brewed as a lager. (homebrewtalk.com)
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Marred for me by the completely fake answer TWO-HIT (7D: ___ wonder (Tone Loc or Crowded House, e.g.). I see that the term has some google traction, but most often as part of a larger discussion of the *real* term, "one-hit wonder." I am a Crowded House fan, so I saw the clue and went "ugh, they're calling them 'one-hit wonders' again," because I'm used to people doing that: remembering "Don't Dream It's Over" and forgetting "Something So Strong." I simply thought the clue was being very loose with the term "hit," as people who use the term "one-hit wonder" often are. No one uses the term "two-hit wonder," so it never Ever occurred to me that it could be a thing, let alone a thing that might appear in a puzzle. The fact that it's essentially a partial is just the cruddy icing on the stale cake. Also, while I love the answer BEE BEARD for the image alone, but "facial display?" (8D: Apiarist's facial display) What apiarist puts bees on his face for display? This sounds like some kind of circus trick, not something a professional apiarist would do. Weird. The puzzle as a whole represents a decent attempt to build a puzzle (here, a kind of visual pun) out of a common expression. There's not that much ickiness, but what little there is really hurts. TWO-HIT, SESTO (27A: Last Pope Paulo, numerically), and ECH (!?!) are real gut kicks. RAMA isn't helping. But most of the rest is solid.
I started Very slowly—absolutely tanking the NW before moving on to the NE, where I got some traction. Why DROUGHT didn't occur to me right off the bat at 1A: Dust Bowl phenomenon, I have no idea. Ugh. And of course once I wrote in ONE-HIT, all hope was lost up there (until the very end). Got going with BED to EDY to BEE-something to EDUARDO (a name I know only bec. I once blew it in a crossword—then I saw "The Social Network"; now I remember) (15A: Facebook co-founder Saverin). That corner fell, but I couldn't get out (the BEARD part of BEE BEARD not being intuitive to me). Started over with MASSE in the SE (another good / common crossword word) (50A: Spin-heavy shot), and worked that corner all the way around to the center, finally hammering out ROUGH, which immediately gave me the reveal, ROUGH AROUND THE EDGES. Before I got ROUGH, I thought it was going to be something ACROSS THE something. After I got the reveal, the rest was pretty easy. SE fell fast (easy once you know ROUGH is on the edge somewhere) and then I finished in the formerly intractable NW. If not for the ROUGH I knew had to go in there, I could still very well be stuck. ULULATE helped too (4D: Howl). Rough corner—SESTO and RED ALE took some real effort.
- 20A: "Grand, ungodly, godlike man" of fiction (AHAB) — went from "how the hell am I supposed to ...?" to "Oh, of course" pretty quickly.
- 54A: Spin-o-___ (360-degree hockey maneuver) (RAMA) — never ever heard this. Good thing I never saw the clue.
- 10D: Offenbach's "Belle nuit, ô nuit d'amour," e.g. (DUET) — nooooo idea. Would've guessed ARIA if crosses hadn't prevented it.
- 37D: One is named for the explorer James Ross (POLAR SEA) — Close to a gimme for me. ROSSSEA is a not-uncommon crossword answer. Three consecutive Ss makes it, let's say, useful in certain tight spots.