Hellhound of Norse mythology / SUN 5-26-13 / Stoutly built Dickens villain / Baroque French dance / NBC newsman Holt / I Never Played Game memoirist / Santiago's milieu in Hemingway novel / Nikkei unit
Sunday, May 26, 2013
Constructor: Joon Pahk and Jeremy Horwitz
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: "Made-For-TV Movies" — Movie titles have (one-word) TV show titles added (or vice versa, I guess), creating wacky phrases, clued "?"-style
- 23A: TV movie about ... where I can easily get a cab? ("TAXI STAND BY ME")
- 30A: ... where to go in Togo? ("OUTHOUSE OF AFRICA")
- 47A: ... a Hispanic "hip hip hooray"? ("THREE CHEERS, AMIGOS!")
- 62A: ... trying to get a friar to violate his vow of silence? ("SAY ANYTHING, MONK")
- 83A: ... a singing group that meets for bacon and eggs? ("BREAKFAST GLEE CLUB")
- 97A: ... Skywalker's trendy hygiene products? ("COOL HAND SOAP, LUKE")
- 111A: ... giving a pipsqueak the brush-off? ("GET LOST, SHORTY")
Word of the Day: ICC (108D: Former railroad regulatory agcy.) —
The Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) was a regulatory agency in theUnited States created by the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887. The agency's original purpose was to regulate railroads (and later trucking) to ensure fair rates, to eliminate rate discrimination, and to regulate other aspects of common carriers, including interstate bus lines and telephone companies. Congress expanded ICC authority to regulate other modes of commerce beginning in 1906. The agency was abolished in 1995, and its remaining functions were transferred to the Surface Transportation Board.The Commission's five members were appointed by the President of the United States with the consent of the United States Senate; the commission was authorized to investigate violations of the Act and order the cessation of wrongdoing. However, in its early years, ICC orders required an order by a federal court to become effective. The Commission was the first independent regulatory body (or so-called Fourth Branch), as well as the first agency to regulate big business in the U.S. (wikipedia)
• • •CAIRENE (a word I have never seen in my life until this puzzle)!?!? I ran the alphabet and still had nothing. Considered ZAIRENE (a native of Zaire???), but knew that there was no way a "Z" was going to be in a regulatory agcy. name. Then I re-ran the alphabet, slower this time, and saw the "Cairo" connection. Puzzle still done in better than average time, but I really could've done without that bit of obscurity/ugliness. In a corner that's already weighed down by A MENU, that crossing was a little much.
ICC / CAIRENE). I thought I had at least a passing familiarity with Norse mythology, but I cannot remember ever learning about GARM (52D: Hellhound of Norse mythology). And TGV? It means "Train à Grand Vitesse" (i.e. "high-speed train"). News to me (79D: French high-speed rail inits.). Those were three random letters, as far as I was concerned. But again, my ignorance of this stuff didn't hold me back much, since the crosses were fair and mostly quite easy.
- 1A: Friends in a pub (MATES) — good clue. Confused me. I think the foreignness of "pub" didn't register w/ me.
- 13A: Baroque French dance (GAVOTTE) — that thing that you watched yourself doing when you were being so vain that you probably thought that song was about you. If you don't know your French dances (or your Carly Simon) (or the fact that Eli went to OLE MISS), that NE corner might've proved a bit tricky.
- 58A: NBC newsman Holt (LESTER) — I like him. It's hard (for me) to take contemporary news anchors seriously, but he seems to do a pretty good job, from the little I've seen.
- 76A: Old French line (ROIS) — I like this clue. Something about the vagueness of "line" makes it interesting.
- 90A: "Stoutly-built" Dickens villain (SIKES) — I've read one Dickens novel in my life, I think, and not the ones one usually reads. I read Our Mutual Friend. This is to say, I have no idea what novel this SIKES guy is from. Oh look, it's Oliver Twist. OK, then.
- 12D: Santiago's milieu in a Hemingway novel (THE SEA) — Pretty sure I've never read The Old Man... either. Plenty of Hemingway short stories, but novels—not so much.
- 95D: "I Never Played the Game" memoirist (COSELL) — also never read this, though I suspect I'm less alone on that count. I got this easily, and it really helped me round the corner down into that southern section.
I have two great independent puzzle projects to tell you about, but since I don't want to overwhelm you with information, I'm going to hold off talking about one until next week.
THIS week the project you really ought to get in on (if you are a puzzle junkie who is desperate for really good, finely edited, and very up-to-the-minute fare) is Peter Gordon's new Kickstarter venture, "Fireball Newsweekly Crosswords." For over four years, Peter wrote a puzzle every week for the magazine The Week, specifically about the previous week's news (this is what I mean by "up-to-the-minute"). He's now seeking to do the same thing independently, in a way that allows the puzzles to be even more current (puzzles are delivered instantly, the moment they're done). He's an exemplary constructor as well as the best editor in the business. The "Fireball Newsweekly Crosswords" are designed to be about T or W-level of difficulty (unlike his regular "Fireball Crosswords," which are Very hard ... as well as Very awesome—frankly, you should subscribe to them, too). Peter's are the first (and so far only) puzzles for which I've ever written a book cover blurb. Read his detailed and informative description of "Fireball Newsweekly Crosswords" here, and then support the project. Inexpensive and *well* worth it.