Victor Herbert's naughty girl / SAT 4-6-13 / Biblical boater in Brest / Rajiv's mother / 1960s Greystoke portayer / Colombian cowboys / Minnesota county west of St. Louis / Sidewalk scam / Nordic flier / Mocha residents / Their anthem is Lofsongur
Saturday, April 6, 2013
Constructor: Michael Wiesenberg
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
Word of the Day: Anthony WAYNE (42D: American Revolution's "Mad Anthony") —
Anthony Wayne (January 1, 1745 – December 15, 1796) was a United States Army general and statesman. Wayne adopted a military career at the outset of the American Revolutionary War, where his military exploits and fiery personality quickly earned him promotion to brigadier general and the sobriquet Mad Anthony. (wikipedia)
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I liked this one pretty well, despite some less than lovely short fill here and there, and despite being (often) well out of my wheelhouse. The stacks in the NW and SE look great. The peoples of three nations are in this grid—is that a record? How would you even begin to check that? Why am I asking you, you don't know. Still, it almost feels like a theme—YEMENIS! NEPALIS! ICELANDERS! (25D: Their anthem is "Lofsöngur") That's a lot of squares dedicated to inhabitants of particular countries. My main trouble today was a. proper nouns (a very predictable sort of trouble) and b. wrong answers that seemed right (also, predictable). Absolutely no clue who this MARIETTA person is (28A: Victor Herbert's "naughty" girl). Also no clue who Victor Herbert is (this is what I mean by "out of my wheelhouse"). Also no clue on CARLA Thomas or "Mad Anthony" WAYNE. Proper nouns also helped me, though. No idea who NAPOLEON II is or why he's important, but I could see that NAPOLEON was involved and then I just guessed a Roman numeral. No idea about moon craters, but TYCHO Brahe was an astronomer, so I inferred that one easily enough from crosses (7D: Large lunar crater). Didn't know DORSEY signed SINATRA, but I have heard of DORSEY, so not hard (with a cross or two). And then there was the biggest proper noun bonanza of the day: OKSANA BAIUL, whom I got in her entirety off the "K."
Then there were the wrong answers (always entertaining). First DELLA for CARLA (a stupid guess based on nothing but the -LA). Then ALL KINDS for ALL SORTS (fixed when I figured 39D: Nordic flier had to be SAS and certainly didn't start with a "K"—KLM's a nice three-letter "flier," but not "Nordic"). Off of -OLE-OS I wrote in BOLEROS at 36D: Finely tempered swords (TOLEDOS). Wasn't until I got the MIRROR part of DAILY MIRROR that I realized my error. Had all kinds of problems in the WEIMAR region. Tried STYNE for WAYNE, considered SETS for WEDS, considered STEM for SAIL, and best / most momentum-sapping of all, I had ZAGGED for WAGGED (40A: Went back and forth). Yes, ZAGGED is a bad answer, as that involves going only forth, not back and forth, but since I wrote it in off just the "G" in HOGS and then *all* the crosses (except that first one) worked out, I didn't question it. I was eventually saved by one of my great sources of childhood entertainment—MAD LIBS (37D: Game requiring many plug-ins? — great clue).
NOE is "Noah" in French, in case that was at all unclear (9D: Biblical boater, in Brest).
David Steinberg, in addition to being a crossword constructor, also runs "The Pre-Shortzian Puzzle Project," which is committed to building "a digitized, fully analyzable database of New York Times crossword puzzles published from February 15, 1942, to November 20, 1993 (before Will Shortz took over as editor)." For the project's website, he asked me and constructor Matt Gaffney to review a pre-Shortzian puzzle. We decided to do it as a fairly free-wheeling dialogue, and it turned out pretty good, I think (long, but good). David posted it yesterday, and you can read it here. But first, I recommend you try to solve the puzzle we discuss—everything will make more sense that way. It's a Sunday puzzle from October 22, 1989, written by Phyllis Fehringer, entitled "One Upmanship." Solve it here.
Happy birthday to my sister Amy, who doesn't solve crosswords and is far too busy to read my jolly blog.
See you tomorrow,