Film resident of Crab Key Island / THU 4-18-13 / Taxi worker / Long writers blocks / Senorita's silver / TV neigh-sayer / Actor who made his film debut in Breakin 1984 / Big-eared Star Wars character
Thursday, April 18, 2013
Constructor: Stu Ockman
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: ALPS (68A: High points of which five are found going up in this puzzle) — five Across answers exceed their allotted space, climbing the letters A, L, P on a diagonal, and continuing at other Acrosses (which, in the AcrossLite version, are clued [---])
- TID ALP OOL (22A: Where seawater remains after an ebb + 5A: ---)
- RACI ALP ROFILING (38A: Unethical law enforcement practice + 20A: ---)
- NATION ALP ASTIME (44A: Baseball, in America + 28A: ---)
- MECHANIC ALP OWER (54A: Engine's output + 40A: ---)
- LEG ALP ADS (67A: Long writers' blocks? + 51A: ---)
Word of the Day: ALDOL (51D: Perfume ingredient) —
1. A thick, colorless to pale yellow liquid, C4H8O2, obtained from acetaldehyde and used in perfumery and as a solvent.2. A similar aldehyde. (thefreedictionary.com)
• • •
ALPS. More like short staircases. Took me forever to see the gimmick here, and while it's ambitious and out-of-the-ordinary (both good), it felt kind of broken. I just don't think ALP is in any way a good indicator of the use of physical space in this puzzle. It's imagistically imperfect. I like the idea of theme answers doing what the theme answers do in this grid, but ALPS does not represent that action well. Strange. Whole set-up felt pretty perverse, esp. the [---] clues. If you're solving on the right side of the grid, you're just getting nonsense, and there's no clear point to the [---] clues. Even when I went looking for the revealer and found it, ALPS does not come to mind for the generic [High points], and the clues / answers down there made it very hard to get in there. No idea what an ALDOL is. Clue on TOUT was too vague to be useful (65A: Push). I put in TOP LIT but couldn't get much to work and ended up taking it out. Grid was 80% filled in before I had any idea what was happening. Whole thing felt like a slog. Ambition without graceful execution. Better than ho-hum routine fare, I guess, but dissatisfying nonetheless. Nothing about three steps up says ALPS to me.
DR. NO (13A: Film resident of Crab Key Island) and MR. ED (30D: TV neigh-sayer?). Odd. What exactly is 1A quoting ("This bag is not A TOY")????? Your mom? It's odd, in that I don't know what the source is, and morbid, in that it calls to mind children asphyxiated by bags. Interesting bit of trivia about an ancient bit of crosswordese today in the AMATI clue (15A: Instrument bearing the coat of arms of France's Charles IX). Less interesting trivia about ancient crosswordese TRINI Lopez (2D: Lopez with the 1965 hit "Lemon Tree"). 7A: Jay LENO'S Garage (popular automotive Web site) had me wondering about the meaning of the word "popular." Not sure what is "historical" about PAPUA—I guess it used to be called that (?)—but it's an obvious answer considering the country that makes up the island's eastern half is called PAPUA New Guinea. There was an odd assortment of '80s/'90s pop culture today with ERIKA Eleniak, LATKA (47D: "Taxi" worker), and ICE-T in his movie debut (34D: Actor who made his film debut in "Breakin'," 1984). Major mistakes on my part included EWOK for YODA (4D: Big-eared "Star Wars" character), KLEE for DALI (10D: "Swans Reflecting Elephants" artist), and PLAYA for PLATA (36D: Señorita's silver). Excellent clue of the day (a tough one) goes to 53D: Doesn't strike out in the end (STETS). Terrible fill redeemed by outstanding clue.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld