Island off Gabonese coast / THU 5-2-13 / Diplomat Annan / It's a kick in a glass sloganeer / Shrek creator / Part of pedestal between base and cornice / Dormant volcano in Cascade Range / McCarthyite paranoia / Modern response to hilarity
Thursday, May 2, 2013
Constructor: Josh Knapp
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: NEITHER (here) NOR (there) (35A: *Irrelevant ... or what the answers to the five starred clues have?) — familiar phrases that start with HERE or THERE have those words removed, so the puzzle contains "neither here nor there."
- 19A: *2007 Best Picture nominee ("[There] WILL BE BLOOD")
- 25A: *"Hope this works!" ("[Here] GOES NOTHING!")
- 51A: *"Abbey Road" track ("[Here] COMES THE SUN")
- 56A: *Start of many limericks ("[There] ONCE WAS A MAN...")
Word of the Day: H-HOUR (15A) —
H-Hour is the specific hour on D-Day that a military operation is set to commence. For amphibious operations, H-Hour denotes the time that the first assault elements are scheduled to reach the beach or landing zone. (about.com)
• • •
SCAB (1A: Target of union hatred) and then ASCETIC (3D: Like monastery life). Then stopped. Never heard of H-HOUR. Wanted IPSO and -ESE, but they conflicted with the obviously right ASCETIC (so much more spot-on than AUSTERE), that I didn't bother testing them. Instead, completely abandoned the NW and again had trouble getting my footing. Conflated MELVIN and MARIO and came up with MARVIN Van Peebles (8D: Director Van Peebles). VAIO (23A: Sony laptop line), STEIG (9D: Shrek creator), and BANE (20D: "The Dark Knight Rises" villain) finally got me going, and very shortly thereafter I got [There] WILL BE BLOOD. [Here] GOES NOTHING came weirdly easily, and so the revealer, when I got to it, was a piece of cake. Put it right in. After that, no trouble until I had to return to the NW. Well, CHACO gave me a little trouble. Knew SHASTA (9A: Dormant volcano in the Cascade Range), did not know CHACO (48A: New Mexico's ___ Canyon). So, batting .500 on Geography. But back to the NW—I had short-lived but legitimate fear that I was going to go into freefall. Entertained MIDGITS (?) for 21A: Mental lightweights (NITWITS). Actually wrote in PERUSE for 4D: Look around (BROWSE). But going back to basics (the IPSO and the -ESE that I suspected way back at the beginning) got me rolling up there, and that was that.
Overall, I liked this one. Theme is a clever twist on a familiar phrase. It's true that you're left with something close to nonsense in the grid (bunch of very long partials), but I have no problem with the idea of mentally supplying a missing word. Oh, and the fill on this one is tight. For once. Thank god.
- 32A: "It's a kick in a glass" sloganeer, once (TANG) — seems pretty saucy for a TANG-era slogan. Took me nearly every cross to get this, as I thought it had something to do with panes of glass...
- 59A: Part of a pedestal between the base and the cornice (DADO) — no idea, though I guessed it after a cross or two based on my having seen it somewhere before in relation to carpentry.
- 10D: Wandering soul (HOBO) — I don't quite get the "soul" part here. Seems tonally off from HOBO.
- 12D: Island off the Gabonese coast (SÃO TOMÉ) — rough, though once I had the SAO, I could guess.
- 37D: McCarthyite paranoia (RED SCARE) — first RED SCARE predates McCarthy era by a good bit, but his was the second and still counts.
- 30D: Whom some novelty disguises imitate (GROUCHO) — Even with the GROU- I had no idea what was happening here. Seems a very dated clue.
- 46D: Modern response to hilarity (ROFL) — got this instantly, though I think I see it more often with the "T" in it. Come to think of it, I haven't seen this initialism much at all lately (in the last couple years). I think it might have died.