Gene arising through mutation / WED 3-13-13 / Like St Augustine in 1565 / Poet best known for Highwayman / Heckelphone cousins / City east of Santa Barbara
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Constructor: Joe DiPietro
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: OPERA (64A: Each of this puzzle's long Across answers sounds like one) puns — Wacky, "?"-clued phrases that sound like famous operas
- 17A: Lady paid for one insect? (MADAM BOUGHT A FLY)
- 26A: Rodent that lets air out of balloons? (DEFLATER MOUSE)
- 44A: Spanish rum cake? (BABA OF SEVILLE)
- 57A: Headline after one of Becker's Wimbledon wins? (BORIS GOOD ENOUGH)
Word of the Day: ALLELE (31A: Gene arising through mutation) —
One member of a pair or series of genes that occupy a specific position on a specific chromosome.
[German Allel, short for Allelomorph, allelomorph, from EnglishALLELOMORPH .]
Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/allele#ixzz2NNmaYcrT
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Hey! Puns and opera! Who doesn't like puns and opera? I mean, besides me.
I think this is a decent, cute puzzle. Nowhere near my wheelhouse, or pleasure center, or splash zone, or whatever, but whaddyagonnado? They can't all be custom-made for my delectation, sadly. Found this one pretty slow going, both because puns were somewhat challenging to piece together, and some of the clues were tough. Actually, biggest problem was the arcane words in a couple of clues. No idea what a heckelphone is, so no idea what its "cousin" was either, until I had many crosses (41D: Heckelphone cousins = OBOES). And I blanked on what a taradiddle was. My failure to get to FIB from [Taradiddle] was, by far, the biggest thorn in my side. See, I assumed MADAM had an "E" on the end. I really feel like "MADAME BUTTERFLY" is how I've seen it in print, somewhere, before. And it seems I'm correct, that is the spelling ... in the English version of the OPERA title. But here, the clue apparently indicates not a title ("Madame"), but just a woman ("MADAM"). Wish I'd understood that while solving, because man did I screw up that answer on the first pass. When my grid was (finally) done, I was staring at MADAMEOUGFTAFLY. Not ... pretty. The "F" comes from my (wrong) answer at 9D, OOF, which is not only defensible, but, given the (terrible) clue, preferable. ["That's gotta hurt"] gets you OOH? OOH conveys only pleasure or awe to me. I can see how one might say it with a tone that would give it a "That's gotta hurt" feel, so it's defensible, but OOF, it's pretty flimsy. Anyway, I had to go through that first answer cross by cross to figure out what the hell was wrong. Tardiddle heckelphone. Taradiddle heckelphone. Taradiddle heckelphone. Quaint.
[42A: Sweet 'un]
P.S. a little something about this past weekend's ACPT. There have already been numerous good write-ups. Eric Berlin's is particularly good on the details of the finals. This year's tournament was won, once again, by Dan Feyer, and it wasn't really close. Anne Erdmann came in 2nd, a big big deal for her after several years of 3rd-place finishes. Five-time champion Tyler Hinman came in third, and was courageous and hilarious in defeat.
As for me, I came in 40th, or so I thought. I appear to have fallen another slot to 41st in the past couple of days as scores get recalibrated. 41st is a ten-position drop from where I ended up the last time I competed (2011), but I did manage to beat my regional nemesis, Arnold Reich, as well as this other pesky solver named Jennifer Turney, who was *right* on my tail until the very end. Thus I claimed my first ever First Place trophy for the New York / Westchester region. Hurray? Yes, hurray. My ten-point drop in the standings can be explained almost entirely by the always vicious Puzzle 5, which was more vicious to me this year than it had ever been before. I've almost always solved that beast of a puzzle much more quickly than most of my peers, but not this year. I had a terrible time: around 20 minutes. But at least I finished, and with no errors. The vast majority of competitors didn't even manage to finish in the allotted 30 minutes. And it was a Patrick Blindauer puzzle! I'd been hanging out with him. Jeez louise, I'd watched him edit puzzles for weeks back when we were putting together American Red Crosswords. You'd think I'd have some feel for his work, some insight into his constructor-brain. Apparently not. Or not a lot. Still, I'm pleased. I finished every puzzle cleanly. Only 60 some-odd contestants out of 570-something can claim that. The main joy of the tourney, however, was seeing friends. I think fully a third of my total number of Facebook Friends were at the tournament, and it felt great to see people I know and like everywhere I turned. (Full tournament results here)
[Jeff Chen posing with Ann Erdmann and her trophies]
And so to bed.