French pantomime character / SUN 5-5-13 / Sleep problem to Brits / Priest in Ogden Nash poem / Defense grp that disbanded in 1977 / George W. Bush acquisition of 2008 / Sportscaster Collinsworth
Sunday, May 5, 2013
Constructor: Alan Arbesfeld
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: "Crunch Time" — abbrevs. of the days of the week are "crunched" into single squares inside familiar phrases:
- 23A: Early entrepreneurial efforts (LeMONade stands)
- 28A: Florentine attraction (StaTUE of David)
- 43A: Food to go? (SteWED prunes) — [ed. Breakfast test: failed]
- 69A: Birthplace of Harry Houdini (BudapesT HUngary) — my friend Matt says this is an error—that when Houdini was born there, it was Budapest, Austria-Hungary. He appears to be right.
- 93A: Big name in feminism (Betty FRIedan)
- 110A: Just makes the 7:47, perhaps (CatcheS A Train)
- 118A: Does spy work (GoeS UNdercover)
Word of the Day: RED DEER, Alberta (18D: Alberta's third-largest city, named after an animal) —
Red Deer is a city in Central Alberta, Canada. It is located near the midpoint of the Calgary–Edmonton Corridor and is surrounded by Red Deer County. It is Alberta's third-most-populous city – after Calgary and Edmonton. The city is located in aspen parkland, a region of rolling hills that is subject to oil, grain, and cattle production. It is a centre for oil and agriculture distribution, and the surrounding region is a major centre for petrochemical production. According to the 2011 municipal census, the population is now 91,877. (wikipedia)
• • •
PIERROT ... again (2D: French pantomime character). ORIBIS ... the crosswordesiest of antelopes (30A: Small African antelopes) [note: "AFRICA" is in the grid at 88D]. And the clue at 3D:How trout may be prepared: Var. is a howler. That may have been what put me over the edge. Of all the Var. clues (which, much to Will's credit, you hardly ever see anymore), this is one of the stupidest-sounding. OCTADS ... ESNE ... YSER ... it's not a Horrible puzzle, it's just not nearly what I expect of the allegedly best puzzle in America. It's running-on-fumes stuff. Filler. Theme has some weaknesses of execution, too. Level of difficulty is not high for a rebus, so those day abbrevs. should really *all* break across words. But only three do. And CATCHESATRAIN? Is that really the best you could do for SAT? Pretty makeshift. Not ALMONDINE makeshift or APNOEA (!?) makeshift, but makeshift nonetheless (102D: Sleep problem, to Brits).
I wasn't the only one put off very early in my solve. One of my Twitter followers wrote: "I got ALAR! Then gave up. Spoiled by beautiful Saturday puzzle." That's kind of an overreaction ... but I understand. I really do.
- 59A: Priest, in an Ogden Nash poem (ONE-L LAMA) — as far as I'm concerned, this Nash poem exists only to get absurd fill into the puzzle. And yet this is one of the most imaginative things in the grid today.
- 122A: George W. Bush acquisition of 2008 (SON-IN-LAW) — my favorite clue of the day. Really tricked me. Very clever.
- 101A: Ogre, to a kid (BEASTIE) — As I write this, it's the one-year anniversary of the death of Adam Yauch aka MCA of the BEASTIE Boys (5/4/12). So I'm going to play BEASTIE Boys now because that will make me happy. See you tomorrow.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld