Political commentator Paul / THU 6-13-13 / Tay Fyne / African healer / French composer Edouard / English word derived from Tswana / 2012 software release / Palazzo Alfieri's locale /
Thursday, June 13, 2013
Constructor: David Steinberg
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: WINDOWS 8 (65A: 2012 software release ... or a hint to the starts of the answers to the starred clues) — said words can precede "window" in a common phrase ... they're types of windows *or* states that a window might be in ... something like that ...
Word of the Day: "Hop-o'-My-Thumb" (3D: "Hop-o'-My-Thumb" figure => OGRE) —
"Hop-o'-My-Thumb", also known as "Little Thumbling" (French: Le Petit Poucet), was first published by Charles Perrault in Histoires ou contes du temps passé in 1697. It is Aarne-Thompson type 327B, the small boy defeats the ogre. This type of fairy tale, in the French oral tradition, is often combined with motifs from the type 327A, similar toHansel and Gretel; one such tale is The Lost Children. (wikipedia)
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The theme feels a bit dicey to me, mainly because CRACKED and BAY are in completely different universes, adjective-wise, as they relate to "window." True, a window might be CRACKED or OPEN, but those are simple adjectives describing virtually any window, which seems very different from places where the window exists (CAR) or types of window (BAY) or shapes of window (OVAL), etc. Eight long theme answers is an impressive total, and that theme density makes the overall smoothness of the fill especially admirable. But the wobbliness of the theme, and just the appearance of shameless shilling for a corporation, dampened my enjoyment a little.
ADO was right for 1A: Rowdydow, which made ON A impossible. I don't like the "?" in the ARC clue. It's not really a play on words in any sense, and ARC does, literally, "start" tangent (in the word "arctangent"). Anyway, ARC never crossed my mind. OGRE never crossed my mind. And ZEE!? (20A: 90 degrees from N?) I knew it had to be right, but couldn't figure how. My thinking: "N" is in the middle of the alphabet and ... ZEE is at the end, so ... somehow ... applying a geometrical metaphor ... nope, nothing. Only after I was finished did I get it—rotate the letter "N" ninety degrees, and you get the letter "Z." It's a great clue, but in that already nightmarish corner, it was too much for me. I think I only put that corner together after trying different kinds of windows and stumbling into CAR. I would never have finished, I don't think, if I hadn't actually seen "Bad Teacher" in the theater (2D: "Bad Teacher" star, 2011 => DIAZ).
- 17A: *Some vacation travel (CAR TRIPS)
- 6D: *What makes bread rise? (POP-UP TOASTER)
- 22D: *1965 hit that ends "My baby don't care" ("TICKET TO RIDE")
- 11D: *Area with the world's highest tides (BAY OF FUNDY)
- 12D: *Bushes were once found there (OVAL OFFICE)
- 41A: *Caboose (REAR END)
- 29D: *Like Linux (OPEN SOURCE)
- 30D: *Frozen daiquiri ingredient (CRACKED ICE)
- 4A: Its logo's letters have a stripe running through them (ESPN) — a useless clue. I watch ESPN every day, and this logo feature is not a defining feature. It may be a feature, it's just not one that stands out as important.
- 15A: African healer (ALOE) — another tough clue. Looking for a name of a kind of person. Then got the "A" and realized what was going on.
- 46A: English word derived from Tswana (TSE-TSE) — Again, tough. No indication of what kind of word ... category ... anything ...
- 50A: ___ equivalent (measure of explosive energy) (TNT) — ????????
- 69A: Axe target? (ODOR) — again, technically, no "?" needed. Axe is a brand of body spray. It literally targets odor. You wouldn't put a "?" in [Ban target?] or [Secret target?]. Or maybe you would. But you shouldn't. The clue is literal.
- 25D: Apt anagram of Russ. (USSR) — strangely, I liked this.
- 28D: French composer Édouard (LALO) — not someone I listen to, so I have no idea how/why I remembered him, but I did. Probably because he's not that uncommon in crosswords. Did not have as much luck remembering GIGOT (53D: Political commentator Paul), whose crossword fame is ... nil.