Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Constructor: JOEL FAGLIANO
Relative difficulty: EASY-MEDIUM
THEME: WORDS WITH FRIENDS... This is a Scrabble-esque game for your iPad, iPhone, etc., and each theme answer starts with a word that can be followed by "friend."
Word of the Day: ARIOSE (64A: Melodic)
Adj. 1. ariose - having a melody (as distinguished from recitative)
songlike, melodic, melodious, musical - containing or constituting or characterized by pleasing melody; "the melodious song of a meadowlark"
• • •Greetings, Crossworld! I’m Catherine Park, filling in for for Rex this fine day. I’ve heard he’s in Oregon, so I suspect he’s drinking shade-grown organic dark roast and getting crossword-related skin ink in the “city where the young go to retire.” I’m so impressed that he managed to work his actual vacation location into his Friday NYT puzzle. Like he’s on a plane flying west to Portlandia at the very moment the world is doing his puzzle with that beautiful 10-letter answer running right down the west coast? Knowing the pace of puzzle publication over at our favorite Grey Lady, he must’ve charted this confluence like two years ago! Or, seeing as that’s literally impossible, is it some sort of special wink from Will to Rex? (And what's all this about that being Rex's "last puzzle"?)
As to today's puzzle, I'll be frank: meh. Last night I did it when it first posted. I warmed to GOPRO (1A: Lose one's amateur status) at once. But then I put in BAN (6A: Prohibit) instead of BAR and things started to get weird. I guess I just wasn't in the mood for it, but I felt manipulated by the two "mountain top" clues, like the puzzle was jerking my chain with all this literal and figurative back and forth. (9A: Mountain top? SKICAP, 16A: What may be under a mountaintop ORE). I just got the sense that the puzzler and I weren't connecting somehow. Did anyone else feel this way? Or was I just being petulant?
- FACEBOOK STALKING (18A: Being an online creep in a way) -- Now, see, this is what I'm talking about. "Facebook Stalking" is a concept, but it's not a really a common term. I would never say, "Hey, I've been Facebook stalking my ex-boyfriend all week." It sounds like something a non-native speaker of English would say. It's unnatural. And it goes without saying that I would never do it either. Facebook stalking is tacky.
- BEST DOCUMENTARY (24A: Oscars category) : Again, sort of annoying because with this clue it could really be any number of things and it was all about the crosses.
- IMAGINARY NUMBER (49A: Square root of -1, e.g.) : This only saddened me because I'm so bad at math. Something I should've asked my brilliant ten-year-old son, but I really didn't know it myself. Crosses again. Sigh.
- WORDS WITH FRIENDS (56A: Popular app... or a hint to the starts of 18-, 24-, and 49-across) : The big reveal. Whatevs. This bummed me out even more, because.. serious confession... I didn't know about it. Dang! This really made me feel dumb. I think this puzzle was specially designed to damage my self esteem. I mean, I'm a word person, and I do play RUZZLE from time to time, but I've just never come across Words With Friends, a game that I take it has long-since peaked. Maybe this is because in its prime years I was up to my elbows in young children. I admit to certain, um, gaps in common knowledge. But this fell flat for me. I can't really blame the constructor for it though. I get it. I blame myself.
- THE MAMBO (39A: Tito Puente speciality) -- Is that how we roll now? We can just go around putting "the" in front of things whenever it's convenient?
- THE ANSWER (34D: Nickname of basketball's Allen Iverson) — See above. Okay, okay, special props for getting the THEs to cross perfectly. Also, let's face it, it's a cool nickname.
- RARA— (46A: _____ avis) -- I wish I had known this, because I like it. You probably knew this, but it means "an unusual, uncommon, or exceptional person or thing [Latin: rare bird" Bonus! You get two words of the day!
- EDEN PRAIRIE — (25D: Minnesota city SW of Minneapolis, so named for its fertile soil)-- You aren't going to believe this, but I'm actually from Minneapolis and I couldn't get this without some crosses. I've been to Eden Prairie many times. I think the problem was I'm geographically challenged-- I didn't know it was SW of Minneapolis. I would've thought more SE. Also, calling it a "city" is quite a stretch.
- OGRE -- (26D: The giant in "Jack and the Beanstalk," e.g.) Can we talk? Giants and ogres are two different animals, my friend. One is about size. The other is about hideousness, stench, and the ability to kill flowers by just walking by them.
Signed, Catherine Park, serf of CrossWorld... normally found toiling www.fineyoungfauves.com