Spiral-horned antelope / SAT 3-23-13 / 1920-24 owner of Metro Pictures / Shogunate capital / View from Biancavilla / One of reality TV's Guidettes / American Scholar speech giver / Creator of heroine Catherine Earnshaw / Name on London Hall / English Channel feeder / 10th century European king
Saturday, March 23, 2013
Constructor: David Steinberg
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
Word of the Day: EXE (36A: English Channel feeder) —
The River Exe (pron.: // eks) in England rises at Exe Head, near the village of Simonsbath, on Exmoor in Somerset, 8.4 kilometres (5 mi) from the Bristol Channel coast, but flows more or less directly due south, so that most of its length lies in Devon. It reaches the sea at a substantial ria, the Exe Estuary, on the south (English Channel) coast of Devon. Historically, its lowest bridging point was atExeter, though there is now a viaduct for the M5 motorway about 3 kilometres (2 mi) south of the city centre. (wikipedia)
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Hey, I know this kid. I saw him in Brooklyn earlier this month, and he seems busy. He's got a puzzle in "Twenty Under Thirty"—the collection of puzzles by young constructors, for which I was a judge, which just came out (get it here)—he's got a puzzle in "American Red Crosswords"—the Hurricane Sandy benefit collection that I put together (get it here)—and his work on the Pre-Shortzian Puzzle Project (digitizing NYT puzzles going back to 1942) continues apace. In fact, earlier this evening, I was editing a conversation between me and Matt Gaffney (about a Sunday puzzle from 1989) that will appear on the Pre-Shortzian Puzzle Project's website some time in the near future. It's a wide-ranging, occasionally ridiculous conversation about puzzles, then and now. Look for it. But back to David—all this crossword stardom and he's still just a teenager. This puzzle has its strong places and its weak places. The toughest place—the place where I started, flailed, and ended (flailing)—was also the prettiest: the NW corner. That is one nifty stack of 11s. Its symmetrical counterpart is solid, if not quite as stunning. The other corners, I had less love for. URI RES OLAFI and EXE kind of deflated my love for the NE; and while the SW is better, it's a little generic. Plus, I generally try to keep EGG SACS as far away from my MOON PIEs as possible.
NW was hardest because 1A: "Another Cinderella Story" co-star, 2008 meant *nothing* to me. I know who SELENA GOMEZ is (I have a 12-year-old daughter), but that movie title could've been any movie title. In fact, that whole corner didn't even begin to open up until I got the "Z" from ZEALOUSLY. Then OOZE. Then I saw ARIZONA (though I thought it was YUMA, at first, not MESA). Then MNO (9D: 6 string ). Then, and only then, did I get GOMEZ. After that, completely unknown ABRAM (6D: Norm of "This Old House") and barely known and somehow unforgotten NYALA (5D: Spiral-horned antelope) finally came into view, and the corner resolved itself. Before that, no real struggles—just a steady Saturday stroll. Started with RONA, then ON GOAL and LOEW (34D: 1920-24 owner of Metro Pictures) came together almost simultaneously, and from there the middle opened up. Weird. I don't usually get my first traction in the middle of a grid, but that's what happened. Needed help to remember stupid Euro-rivers (EXE, ORNE [Neighbor or Eure-et-Loir]) and Euro-provinces (on cantons, I guess—URI), and I had a few wrong answers that held me up: many different channels before AMC at 24A: Channel with the tagline "Story matters here"; COS before COT (64D: Trig function); GOES before DOES (35A: Gets along); ULM for URI (16A: It's bisected by the Reuss River); and the only-a-constant-solver-and-idiot-could-make-that-mistake mistake: scenic Sicilian ENNA instead of the much more obvious and common Mt. ETNA (10D: View from Biancavilla).
NOTE: 9D: 6 string is MNO because that is the "string" of letters on the "6" button on your phone. I get more mail about phone keyboard clues than virtually any other kind of clues, and so I'm hoping, perhaps futilely, to pre-unclog my Inbox with this note. Thank you.
- 15A: Creator of the heroine Catherine Earnshaw (EMILY BRONTË) — nooooo idea. But got the whole answer off just a few letters on the back end.
- 21A: Name on a London hall (ALBERT) — first guess, ended up right. Very useful in Saturday puzzles.
- 43A: Bearers of bright red anils (YEWS) — I have resigned myself to never remembering being able to keep ANIL and ARIL straight. Such is my lot.
- 53A: Shogunate capital (EDO) — certified Old Skool crosswordese. Gimme.
- 57A: One of reality TV's "Guidettes" (SNOOKI) — not "Guid-" as in "TV Guide," but "Guid-" as in "Guido." I've never seen the show, but I put SNOOKI in a puzzle once. I think she got edited out.
- 66A: Epitome of dedication, in modern usage (REAL TROOPER) — this is cute.
- 67A: Either of two cousin Udalls: Abbr. (SEN.) — me: "Are they both named MOE?" No. Neither. One is Mark (CO). One is Tom (NM).
- 2D: "The American Scholar" speech giver (EMERSON) — I was desperately trying to remember H.L. MENCKEN's name. Turns out I was thinking of "The American Mercury." That's what's called Knowing Too Much And Too Little Simultaneously.