Real-estate mogul Olenicoff / FRI 3-1-13 / Whitman Cantata composer / Fangorn Forest denizens / Greg Evans comic strip / Part of iconic Eden outfit / Genre that glorifies gunplay / Regime change catalyst / Baccarat cousin
Friday, March 1, 2013
Constructor: Doug Peterson and Brad Wilber
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
Word of the Day: Zach BRAFF (48D: Zach ___, "Garden State" actor/director) —
Zachary I. "Zach" Braff (born April 6, 1975) is an American actor, screenwriter, producer, comedian, and director. Braff first became known in 2001 for his role as Dr. John Dorian on the television series Scrubs, for which he was nominated for an Emmy Award and three Golden Globe Awards.In 2004, Braff made his directorial debut with Garden State. Braff returned to his home state New Jersey to shoot the film, which was produced for $2.5 million. The film made over $35 million at the box office and was praised by critics, leading it to gain a cult following. Braff wrote the film, starred in it, and compiled the soundtrack record. He won numerous awards for his directing work, and also won the Grammy Award for Best Soundtrack Album in 2005. (wikipedia)
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This is a wonderful grid, but oof, I did not move through it easily at all. I was nodding off on the couch in the minutes leading up to puzzle-release time, then forced myself upstairs to solve the puzzle right at 10pm. I literally slapped myself two or three times to try to wake up fully before solving. Given how much I struggled to get started, and then just went into freefall at the end, I should've slapped myself a few more times. Like, thirty. Thirty more times. Even adjusting for my sleepiness, this puzzle feels slightly on the tough side. I was the victim of both ignorance (I clearly have never played CAT'S CRADLE, as that clue meant less than nothing to me — Vonnegut, I would've gotten; the game, no) (1A: Game with the figures "soldier's bed" and "fish in a dish") and stubborn wrongness (RHEO for AERO held me up forEver in the NW (2D: Prefix with -stat), and POLICE COUP (?) for PALACE COUP did something similar in the SE (61A: Regime change catalyst)). CANS for JARS (20A: Larder lineup). EWOK for ENTS (18A: Fangorn Forest denizens). No idea who the IGOR guy was (11A: Real-estate mogul Olenicoff). SENIOR (?) for RINSER (24A: Dental patient, often). I know DIURNAL only from poetic contexts, so I think of it as meaning roughly "daily" as opposed to "the opposite of nocturnal" (8D: Like the snowy owl). Needless to say, even -RNAL didn't clue me in at first. Other parts were easy. The SW, for instance: total breeze, probably because I remarkably remembered how to spell Zach BRAFF's name, despite *major* interference from the Canadian ski resort BANFF. Just glad I didn't go with my very first instinct, BRAMF.
How the hell does Superman shave himself with HEAT VISION? (15A: Superpower with which Clark Kent shaves himself). I'm gonna guess "mirror," because otherwise he'd have to invent a new superpower called "being able to see your own face without a mirror." 19A could've been clued [Quitter of note] or [He stepped down today] or [There isn't one]. But instead it's high school English, which paid off nicely. Cultural center of gravity in this puzzle is not old, exactly, but it's pretty heavy in the '60s/'70s. "The Munsters" *and* "I Dream of Jeannie" (41D: Yvonne of "The Munsters" + 25D: Part of an iconic Eden outfit). "DIRTY HARRY" *and* TWA (58A: 1971 film with the tagline "You don't assign him to murder cases. You just turn him loose." + 30A: First carrier to offer regular in-flight movies, 1961). But you've also got GANGSTA RAP (12D: Genre that glorifies gunplay) as well as a wide sampling of answers from diverse realms of knowledge. This keeps the puzzle varied and surprising. I have a puzzle in the pipeline that has 10-block corners very much like this one, and while I like mine fine, I really envy this one's cleanness. I don't think I winced once.
Good Clue awards go to 33A: They're no longer tender in a typical trattoria (LIRE) and 21A: It moves along via a series of belts (FIGHT).
And so to bed.