Hostage playwright 1958 / SUN 2-24-13 / Boxer nicknamed Hands of Stone / Best-selling author who served as nurse in Civil War / Postseason football game played in Mobile Ala / Big name in '60s peace activism / Candy since 1927 / Four-time baseball All-Star Jose
Sunday, February 24, 2013
Constructor: Joe DiPietro
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: "I Surrender" — Nine [Back down] clues. Each answer runs BACKward and then veers DOWN
Word of the Day: ARS (29A: Some seen in mirrors?) —
The letter "R" ... here pluralized. See, there are "R"s in the word "mirrors," so ... tada?
• • •
This is an ingenious puzzle. Something about its structure made it tougher-than-usual. Shouldn't have been, once I grasped the concept, but it was. Couldn't think of right words to go in missing slots much of the time—what does one do to a white flag (I could think only of RAISE)? Likewise, couldn't come up with the GIVE part of (reversed) GIVE SOME GROUND for a while. I think the cluing difficulty may have been slightly elevated as well. Fill manages to be fairly solid despite demanding theme. I despise ARS — it's terrible fill, and a cutesy "?" clue is about the worst thing you can do to terrible fill. It's still terrible, but now it's irksome and hostile. ARS? Come on. But that's about the only vomitous thing in the grid. There was some stuff I didn't know, like CLEM (38A: Mrs. Miniver's husband in "Mrs. Miniver") ("oh, in "Mrs. Miniver"! I'm glad you put that in the clue because otherwise I might have confused her with the Mrs. Miniver in "Sanford & Son"), but mainly my slowness was due to tricky / vague cluing and failures of pattern recognition. Oh, and PALTERS. Don't know that word (77A: Talks without sincerity). Am I being sincere? Yes. Ironically, or aptly, yes.
Your back downs:
- 22A: BEAT A HASTY RETREAT
- 24A: CAPITULATE
- 43A: HEAD FOR THE HILLS
- 53A: PULL OUT
- 65A: LOSE ONE'S NERVE
- 82A: WITHDRAW
- 90A: GIVE SOME GROUND
- 112A: CRY UNCLE
- 115A: WAVE THE WHITE FLAG
Got started quickly with FIFER at 1A: Drummer's accompanier (took me somewhat longer to get [Ball partner] (ARNAZ)). My favorite wrong answer of the day was at 6A: Best-selling author who served as a nurse in the Civil War. I wrote in AL CAPP. And then thought, "Whoa. That is *fascinating*." I'm serious. Two seconds later I realized my considerable error (it's Louisa May ALCOTT). Just guessed the [Big name in '60s peace activism] was ONO. Just glad it wasn't U NU. Managed to pull BEHAN out of my crossword bag o' tricks (32D: "The Hostage" playwright, 1958). I've been burned by him before. Actually I pulled BEHA- from my bag—couldn't remember if last letter was "R" or "N." The only expression I associate with Roberto DURAN is "No mas!" so 123A: Boxer nicknamed "Hands of Stone" took a good bit of effort. REYES, however, was considerably easier (5D: Four-time baseball All-Star Jose). Helps that he's still playing. And that I actually follow baseball. I don't know if SENIOR BOWL is original or not, but it feels so, and I liked it for that reason. I can't remember ever watching one, but I'm aware of its existence—good enough (67D: Postseason football game played in Mobile, Ala.). PEZ turns 100 in 14 years (76D: Candy since 1927). Get to work, commemorative crossword constructors! I'm sure you'll have competition.
P.S. If you haven't yet downloaded "American Red Crosswords" (24 original puzzles from the country's top constructors, ed. by Patrick Blindauer, intro by Will Shortz), you should do that. Donate money to the Red Cross and get a mess of good puzzles. It's win-win.
P.P.S. a biggish announcement: "American Red Crosswords" will be available for your iPhone/iPad very soon. This is kind of a big deal. Very exciting. I'll keep you posted.