Thor's archenemy in comics / TUE 3-26-13 / Title Seuss character who speaks for trees / Wow you're regular expert at turning left / Bears legend Walter / Classic video game consoles
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Constructor: Samuel A. Donaldson and Doug Peterson
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: WOW! — Idiomatic expressions of surprise, clued literally (i.e. absurdly)
Word of the Day: GLENDA Jackson (62A: Jackson with two Best Actress Oscars) —
Glenda May Jackson, CBE (born 9 May 1936) is a British Labour Party politician and former actress. She has been a Member of Parliament(MP) since 1992, and currently represents Hampstead and Kilburn. She previously served as MP for Hampstead and Highgate. After constituency changes for the 2010 general election, her majority of 42 votes was one of the closest results of the entire election.
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Hey, I know these guys. Seriously, I know them. We had dinner a couple weeks ago in Brooklyn. So I would recuse myself, but this isn't the damned Supreme Court, so I'm going to say what's obvious, which is this puzzle is fantastic. Everything a Tuesday should be but somehow rarely is—bright, playful, entertaining, interesting, and easyish. And today, also a little bit ridiculous. I mean, some of these theme clues are hilariously absurd. I think my favorite is "Wow, you're a regular expert at turning left!" This fusty, archaic thing I know from crosswords (i.e. GEE = turn-left command to a horse) all of a sudden becomes charming in this ridiculous-clue context. The theme clues are my favorite part, but even if you leave them aside and consider only the grid, the puzzle still rules. All those exclamations look great, as do THE LORAX (14A: Title Seuss character who speaks for trees) and ROADKILL (67A: Animal that's been run over); the long Downs are more than solid; and there's hardly any junky fill anywhere. Plus you've got OMG as a nice little bonus theme answer (44A: Texter's expression of surprise). Great work.
- 17A: "Wow, he survived!" ("MAN ALIVE!")
- 26A: "Wow, you're a regular expert at turning left!" ("GEE WHIZ!")
- 38A: "Wow, those reptiles have mad hops!" ("LEAPIN' LIZARDS") — ICYDK: "mad hops" is basketball slang for "amazing jumping ability"
- 52A: "Wow, look at that bovine idol!" ("HOLY COW!")
- 64A: "Wow, I'm standing next to Mr. Clooney himself!" ("BY GEORGE!")
I had three detectable hold-ups during this solve—all Downs, all in the south. First one happened with the drain sound, GURGLE (50D: Sound of draining water). Had the -GLE, and wanted GURGLE, but then second-guessed myself, mainly because I feared I might be making that word up. "GURGLE ... is GURGLE a word?" Your (my) brain does this sometimes at relatively high speeds, and by "does this" I mean "jams." Next problem was with "I READ YOU" (40D: "Understood"), which (like GURGLE) is a great answer, but when you're coming at it from the top, looks like "I REALIZE" or "REASON" or something. I mean, those aren't good / don't fit, but the three-word phrase just wasn't visible to me til I got that terminal "U." Lastly, and worst of all, was NOT ANY (46D: Zero). Again, came at it from the top, and wanted ... NOTHING, but that' wouldn't fit ... then NOBODY (as in "he's a zero, he's a NOBODY), but that gave me nonsensical BEED at 58A. Ended up having to come at it from underneath via SWEATY GLENDA and PAYTON (sexy!).