KNO3 in Britain / SUN 3-24-13 / Baja vacation spot informally / Tolstoy O'Neill heroines / Traditional enemies of Kiowa / Tellico Dam agcy / Two-time ice-skating medalist Brian / 1994 film based on SNL skit / 1804 symphony that includes funeral march
Sunday, March 24, 2013
Constructor: Dan Schoenholz
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: "You'll Know It When You See It" — famous people's answers to the question "WHAT IS ART?" (67A: Classic question answered six times in this puzzle)
- 24A: Answer to 67-Across, per John F. Kennedy ("THE GREAT DEMOCRAT")
- 32A: Answer to 67-Across, per Yeats ("BUT A VISION OF REALITY")
- 49A: Answer to 67-Across, per Malraux ("A REVOLT AGAINST FATE")
- 88A: Answer to 67-Across, per Beethoven ("SELFISH AND PERVERSE")
- 107A: Answer to 67-Across, per Nietzsche ("THE PROPER TASK OF LIFE")
- 116A: Answer to 67-Across, per Emerson ("A JEALOUS MISTRESS")
Word of the Day: HORAE (68D: Greek goddesses of the seasons) —
Horae (hō'rē), in Greek religion and mythology, goddesses of the seasons; daughters of Zeus and Themis. Although they controlled the recurrence of the seasons, they also attended other gods and had no cults of their own. The number and names of the Horae differed from region to region. According to Hesiod, there were three Horae-Eirene or Irene (peace), Dice or Dike (justice), and Eunomia (order).
Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/horae#ixzz2OPLwK3kq
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First, the title of this puzzle refers to porn, not art. Actually, not porn exactly, but obscenity. One of the better known phrases in U.S. Supreme Court history. Anyway, not terribly apt. Second, I wouldn't call "WHAT IS ART?" a "classic question." "IS IT ART?," yes. That is a question. A commonly occurring question you can find all over the place. "WHAT IS ART?" is "classic" only insofar as Tolstoy wrote an essay with that title, I guess. I'm nitpicking a bit, but when you hang your whole puzzle on this stuff, it better hold. My main issue with the puzzle, though, is that the answers are essentially a series of aphorisms or bumper stickers or email sig file quotations or motivational posters. Beethoven's quote is kind of interesting, and Kennedy's has at least a little bit of non-hackneyed flavor to it, but the others are a blur of banality and vagueness posing as wisdom. In short, they're just boring. Now, they were not easy to pick up always, which means that at least at the level of solving, I was not always bored. That is to say, I was sufficiently challenged. And the fill, in general, is really quite solid. Fine, clean work. But the theme just doesn't have any sparkle.
I had one major (and I mean Major) sticking point in this solve. DISH for FISH, LEO- for UNI- (75D: Lead-in to -tard), and thus SELDO- opening the Beethoven quote. Naturally, I figured the phrase was SELDOM something. And there I sat. When everything else was done, there I sat. And sat. Now it turns out I was misreading the clue at 68D: Greek goddesses of the seasons (HORAE). I kept reading it as singular. Had I processed the damned plural, it is Highly likely H---E would've led me to HORAE. But I saw singular, and thus could do nothing. Also --DUP for 84D: Reach, with "at"? Just nothing. A huge blank. Would not compute. Eventually, I somehow decided 83A: KNO3, in Britain could be NITRO. This did the trick (I mean, it's NITRE, but NITRO got me unjammed). I looked at what I had for the Beethoven: SELDISH AND PERVERSE. Then had my big "d'oh!" moment. FISH does make better sense than DISH for 89D: Menu heading, but I never questioned it. Saw -ISH, wrote in DISH. The end. Almost. Everything else in the grid seemed to be clued at average to slightly above-average difficulty, but the real problem was that the theme answers were the sort you had to hammer out from crosses, which meant that you couldn't move very easily or freely from section to section. I had to keep pulling up stakes and moving to new sections where I had nothing, instead of building on existing answers. This was the source of all my pre-freefall difficulty.
- 5A: Tolstoy and O'Neill heroines (ANNAS) — familiar with the first (from one of my favorite novels), not so familiar with the second.
- 19A: Baja vacation spot, familiarly (CABO) — San Lucas. The very name reminds me of Sammy Hagar. Maybe he owns a restaurant there? I don't know. But my brain feels there is some connection. Aha. Yes. Cabo Wabo.
- 58A: Oranges and lemons (TREES) — an old trick I fell for badly. Needed many crosses to pick up this should've-been-easy answer.
- 60A: 1994 film based on an "S.N.L." skit ("IT'S PAT") — love Julia Sweeney, but this character was Never my favorite.
- 70A: Camera shop item, informally (ZOOM) — without the "Z," not the easiest answer to pick up.
- 122A: Iona College athlete (GAEL) — Go GAELs! Oh, too late, they just got crushed by Ohio State. Better luck next year GAELs!
- 2D: Mediterranean salad with bulgur wheat, chopped tomatoes and parsley (TABOULI) — no excuse for blanking on this one. Had the T- and terminal -I and could think of nothing but TAHINI, which I knew wasn't it. Ugh. Stupid brain.
- 13D: Like most Bluetooth headsets (ONE-EAR) — 'Cause STUPID-LOOKING wouldn't fit.
- 14D: As easy as pie, say (SIMILE) — I can't be the only one who had SIM- and wrote in -PLE. I just can't.
- 25D: 1804 symphony that includes a funeral march ("EROICA") — one of the first pieces of classical music I ever heard played live. A very common 6-letter answer.
- 63D: Traditional enemies of the Kiowa (OSAGE) — I had OTAMI, by which I think I meant OTOMI, which I only just learned the other day, and which is All Kinds of Wrong.
- 72D: Christiansen who founded Lego (OLE) — literally ugh-ed at this one. For some reason I resent having to know this guy's name. I just don't think he's famous. And look, you put OLE in your puzzle, just cop to it. Quit trying to make it Euro-fancy.
- 108D: Two-time Olympic ice-skating medalist Brian (ORSER) — he was an UNSER for a bit. Sports-wise, that answer was way, way, way off.
P.S. an important update on my post from last week about reader Jen CT and her efforts to raise money for her new service dog—readers of this blog were so generous that in less than four days (!?!) her $9500 funding goal had been met. The people at NEADS wrote me to tell me they'd never seen such an overwhelming response to a fundraising drive. They also invited me to visit their facility in central Massachusetts, where I am told there is a "house full of puppies," which means that if I go, I may never return. If this blog goes dark, you'll know why: I am in the puppy house and I am never ever leaving. Anyway, Jen and NEADS and I thank all of you who donated to her cause. Jen wanted me to inform everyone that, unfortunately, her first service dog Ollie was not a good match for her, but a new dog is being trained as we speak, and Ollie will find the human he's meant for, so things are fine. Better than fine. To anyone who meant to contribute but never got around to it, Jen's raising money toward the cost of an accessible van here. Again, your generosity was truly astonishing. Thank you.