Psychologist Alfred / SAT 2-9-13 / Film hero chasing motorcycle gang / Cuban-born baseball hall-of-famer Jose / Number of Planeten / Target of thrown bricks in early comics
Saturday, February 9, 2013
Constructor: Peter Wentz
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
Word of the Day: Jose MENDEZ (39D: Cuban-born Baseball Hall-of-Famer José) —
José de la Caridad Méndez (March 19, 1887 – October 31, 1928) was a Cuban right-handed pitcher and manager in baseball's Negro Leagues. Born inCárdenas, Matanzas, he died at age 41 in Havana. Known in Cuba as El Diamante Negro (the "Black Diamond"), he became a legend in his homeland. He was one of the first group of players elected to the Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939. He was elected to the U.S. National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006. (wikipedia)
• • •A gorgeous puzzle. It was right in my wheelhouse, and I clocked it. One of my fastest Saturday times ever. Sometimes I get mildly annoyed when puzzles that are supposed to be hard end up too easy, but even at high speed, this one offered plenty to appreciate. I have a KRAZY KAT collection sitting on my bedside table right now (53A: Target of thrown bricks, in early comics), and stuff like Biz MARKIE (25D: Rap's Biz ___), DEF Comedy Jam, and MAD MAX (46A: Film hero chasing a motorcycle gang) is pop culture bread & butter for me. Mid-century slang? (CAT'S MEOW)—Please! 21st-century slang? (GEE, YA THINK)—Yes and thank you. I spent several minutes talking about the word "reeks" on Tuesday in my 17th century lit class (Shake. sonnet 130), so REEK OF was right there. The whole thing felt like it was written just for me. Nearly all first guesses were right. I spent 20 minutes shoveling snow right before solving, so maybe that helped in some way—blood flowing, energy high, mood up. Anyway, I have virtually nothing critical to say about this puzzle. This is how you do it.
Crossword knowledge helped in the middle with ARPEL (26D: Last name in women's skin care) and SHTETL (words I know only from crosswords), but it failed me in the SW when I could not come up with the very crosswordy DEANA (42A: Country music's Carter). That corner was the one area of the grid where things got a little dicey, however briefly. Threw down BACK TAXES, but nothing else would go for a bit. Tried EDGE and then very shortly thereafter saw MAD MAX—corner solved. Greatest AAH moment of the puzzle was piecing together GEE, YA THINK? (27D: "Pretty obvious, huh?") That one may have made me "wow" out loud. I did trip here and there. Wanted BIZET for BINET (wrong discipline) (20A: Psychologist Alfred) and JUMBO JETS for TURBO JETS (9D: Concorde features). Spelling of MAH JONGG always puzzles me a bit. I always want there to be an "H" somewhere in the second part. Really, really glad I got CAT'S MEOW before I saw the clue for 4D: "The Hippopotamus" writer (T.S. ELIOT), because I for sure would've put down IONESCO (who wrote "Rhinoceros"!). Actually, my really, really gladness goes back to the first answer I put down: BCS (1D: N.C.A.A. football ranking system), a flat-out gimme that turned CAT'S MEOW into a gimme that kept me from falling in the IONESCO trap.
- 35A: Microwaveable food brand (HOT POCKETS) — always nice to have your long corner-turner be a cinch. Could've got this off just the "H"—as it was, I had the whole HOT.
- 42D: "Baa, baa, Black Sheep" figure (DAME) — I got to "three bags full" and I was tapped out. Needed every cross.
- 29A: Number of Planeten (ACHT) — spelling uncertainty. Thought maybe OCHT (for "October"? Which is the tenth month? Which ... makes no sense now that I think about it?). I have this same spelling confusion with the shorter ACH / OCH (never can keep straight which one the Scot says and which one the German)