Automaker Adam / FRI 6-7-13 / Neighbor of Hercules / Hungarian city known for Bull's Blood Wine / 1958-61 polit. alliance / Home of Sinbad sailor / Antes up for peanuts / Jack Benny persona / Humanoid cryptid
Friday, June 7, 2013
Constructor: Ed Sessa
Relative difficulty: Challenging
Word of the Day: EGER (19A: Hungarian city known for "Bull's Blood" wine) —
Eger (Hungarian pronunciation: [ˈɛɡɛr]; German: Erlau; Turkish: Eğri; Latin: Agria; Polish:Jagier; Slovak: Jáger; Slovene: Jager; Czech: Jager; Serbian: Jegar/Jerpa/Jegra/Jerap;Croatian: Jegar/Jerpa/Jegra/Jerap) is the county seat of Heves, and the second largest city in Northern Hungary (after Miskolc). Eger is best known for its castle, thermal baths, historic buildings (including the northernmost Turkish minaret), dishes and red wines. It has an estimated population of 56,530 as of 2011, which makes it 19th largest city inHungary. The city is located on the Eger Stream, on the hills of the Bükk Mountains. (wikipedia)
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IVS and ICU, I got into the NE and then got MAKE THE BEST OF IT *and* (after humming "We Can Work It Out" to myself over and over and over and getting Nowhere) LIFE IS VERY SHORT . But that didn't help. At all. I just went back to being stuck. Nothing made any sense to me. The middle was impossible because I've literally never seen or heard the phrase BALL THE JACK until today. Toward the end, I had all but two letters—no idea what they were. BELL THE PACK? Made about as much sense. Also couldn't see JIMI (had OTIS, then ELLA) (47A: "___ Plays Monterey" (posthumous 1986 album)). Forget "BETTY'S," no way. Had OLDS for OPEL (27A: Automaker Adam). And so on.
EVE / ARDEN ... before my time (62D: With 54-Down, Best Supporting Actress nominee for 1945's "Mildred Pierce"). MISER was all crosses (9D: Jack Benny persona — "Jack" is also in the grid, btw, but I guess that doesn't matter). Did not know: that CAT'S PAW meant "Dupe"; that "Troglodytes troglodytes" was a bird (WREN); what BALL THE JACK meant; who PENROSE was (63A: Mathematical physicist Roger); who in the world ever said NICEN or used the abbr. RCT. (42A: Last item bagged, often: Abbr.); whether BUMPPO had two "M"s or two "P"s; the Mozart aria "Idol MIO"; who ERIC was (58D: "The Little Mermaid" prince); who was bein' bad (33A: "___ Bein' Bad" (Sawyer Brown country hit)). And that's just the "didn't know"s. Then there's the "couldn't see"s. Too many to mention. Tough cluing everywhere (Swinging halter, for short? — great, and brutal, clue for TKO).
The interlocking 15s are nice. You can take the rest of the grid, which isn't terrible—just ordinary. Sometimes puzzles are generation-specific, and this one was definitely felt like it would resonate best with an older crowd. That said, it's not "old" in the sense of stale, old-fashioned, Maleskan. Some days, the puzzle just isn't in (or anywhere near) your wheelhouse. For me, this was one of those days.