Nepalese bread / SAT 6-1-13 / Embedded column / Stephen King horror anthology / Haydn's master of us all / Classic Meccano toy / Bellflower Bell Gardens / Cloth diaper film camera / Frito old ad symbol / Yoke attachment
Saturday, June 1, 2013
Constructor: Barry C. Silk
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
Word of the Day: COG RAILWAY (28D: How many reach the top of Pikes Peak) —
A railway designed to operate on steep slopes and having a locomotive with a center cogwheel that engages with a cogged center rail to provide traction. Also called rack railway. (thefreedictionary.com)
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COG RAILWAY. Beyond the usual trouble getting started (not uncommon on Saturdays), this is the only answer that held me up. The only answer in the grid I've never heard of. The clue is also somewhat sadistic, in that Pikes Peak is in Colorado and the answer starts CO. Until almost the very last cross, I thought I was dealing with CO. as an abbrev. for Colorado *or* CO- as a prefix. CO-GRAVITY... didn't fit. Also, probably isn't a thing. But even here, marooned in Ignoranceland, in danger of not getting into that SE corner at all, there was an out—BIKINI WAX (61A: Painful spa treatment). Seemed obvious that hair removal was involved, and though I had hardly anything in place down there, I did have the "K" from PEEK AT. So BIKINI WAX went in easily, then SIXER, SOTOMAYOR (66A: Justice from the Bronx), and the rest. Last letter in was the "D" in DEMO / BANDITO.
Totally blanked on "CREEPSHOW" (1A: Stephen King horror anthology). Wasn't really sure what was meant by "anthology." So I had to break into this puzzle using smaller answers, specifically -ERN and RUPEE, which somehow made OPEN LANES obvious (17A: They're available in alleys). Once I finally retrieved the tribe name I wanted at 8D: Upstate New York natives (ONEIDAS), the rest of that corner came together pretty quickly. I have no idea how I know the word PILASTER (5D: Embedded column), but I do, and that sure helped.
Other minor stuff: Wanted BURG (?) at 1D: Bellflower or Bell Gardens, vis-à-vis L.A. ('BURB), and, briefly, PROM for 55D: One with hot dates (PALM)—are they "hot" 'cause they've been in the sun? Guessed OREO easily (36D: ___ Biscuit (1912 debut))—centennial was just last year, so "1912" rang a bell. Had the -DU, so "XANADU" was a no-brainer (11D: Hit soundtrack album of 1980). Don't think I knew OX-BOW was anything but a river formation, but I knew it was a word at least, so NE wasn't too hard (10A: Yoke attachment). Is the "popularity" part of the TETRIS clue (44A: Game of falling popularity?) referring to the fact that the game itself was, indeed, popular? Bad lady in Shakespeare in three letters = MAB every time, I'd imagine (42A: She plagues ladies' lips with blisters, per Mercutio). RETRONYM is a cool word (39D: "Cloth diaper" or "film camera")—I certainly didn't come up with it today, though. It seemed to come together entirely from crosses, in the flurry of solving activity that followed my finally figuring out the damned COG RAILWAY. The Frito BANDITO (43D: Frito ___ (old ad symbol)) must be pretty damned "old," as I've never heard of him. Also old (I think)—Meccano? The clue 3D: Classic Meccano toy meant nothing to me, but once I had the first few letters, the answer was easy. I thought ERECTOR SET was a generic thing, not a brand-specific thing. I can vaguely picture a cylindrical box ... primarily white ... no, that's not it, but what am I thinking of? Dowels with holes that you connect with sticks to build ... things ... roughly contemporaneous with the Lincoln Log phase, if there can be said to have been one of those. Ugh, this is gonna bug me now ... [consults Twitter] ... TINKER TOYS! Of course. I can sleep now.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld