Glenn Close title role / THU 7-11-13 / US city named for Tennyson character / Queen in Three Musketeers / Tony winner Carriou / Nast's symbol for Tammany Hall / Gray in novel painting / Craters of Moon National Monument locale
Thursday, July 11, 2013
Constructor: Henry Hook
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: balls — theme clues are related to things associated with 3, 4, and 5 balls, respectively
- 20A: Many traditionally have three balls (PAWN SHOP SIGNS)
- 35A: What four balls may let you do (WALK TO FIRST BASE)
- 52A: Gizmo often with five balls that demonstrates conservation of momentum and energy (NEWTON'S CRADLE)
Word of the Day: MIELE (8A: Vacuum cleaner brand) —
Miele (pronounced 'mee-luh') is a German based manufacturer of high-end domestic appliances, commercial equipment and fitted kitchens, based in Gütersloh, Germany. Miele has always been a family-owned and -run company, founded in 1899 byCarl Miele and Reinhard Zinkann. [...]
Miele's first products were a cream separator, butter churn, and tub washing machine, under the Meteor brand. (wikipedia)
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What a strange, loose, weird, entertaining puzzle. I had to ask friends "is there a theme, uh, beyond the balls, as it were"? Looks like no, but I strangely I don't care. I'll take increasing number of ball themes if the answers are this interesting and the fill is this solid. Two exceptions—WALK TO FIRST BASE doesn't exactly jump off the page and kiss you on the mouth. Kind of limp and not in-the-language. But it fits the theme fine and the other two theme answers are interesting, so no big deal. Other exception, in the fill—MIELE? Never heard of it. This doesn't necessarily make it bad fill, but it is bad fill. An uncommon proper noun / brand name in an area that could've been filled a ton of different ways?! Why? There's also LEN (11D: Tony winner Cariou) and IN ONE up there. Not sure why that corner is so weak when virtually everything else is so tight. Anyway, cluing was toughish and odd (at times) and fill was mostly very strong. This puzzle is my kind of wacky.
I should add that the puzzle was In No Way in my wheelhouse and yet my pleasure was diminished not one or two IOTAS. Never heard of MAXIE (31D: Glenn Close title role), didn't know a NEWTON'S CRADLE was called that, had no idea what's in an ALEXANDER, never heard of MIELE (clearly), no idea what the hell SAMP is (I'd've gone with NFL All-Star Warren SAPP in that spot) (1D: Hominy cereal), didn't know what "Lyonnaise" meant, Don't remember Queen ANNE from "Three Musketeers," etc. But struggling against a devious, talented, and ALIEN mind can be a great treat, and today, the puzzle was easy enough in other places that I didn't feel brutalized. I just felt like I got a healthy and enjoyable Thursday work-out. I am at least a little stunned that Will allowed a purely cryptic clue into the puzzle (10D: Pepsi-Cola mix?=>EPISCOPAL). I don't know if I've ever seen that before. Violates so many rules—mainly, that there be a definition of the word, like, somewhere. Anywhere. So weird. It's just a "mix" of the letters in "Pepsi-Cola." I guess when you are crossword royalty, you can get away with crazy whimsical crap like that. What a world.
I know my Tennyson, so ENID was easy (14A: U.S. city named for a Tennyson character). I can see how that clue might be rough for some. The word "modernspeak" makes me miss yesterday's "toondom," which I would've thought impossible (17A: Self-referential, in modernspeak=>META). Managed to remember the phrase "TIGER of Tammany Hall" (26D: Nast's symbol for Tammany Hall)—NAST himself is someone I learned of first thought crosswords. I still remember the clue [Tweed twitter Thomas]. Things I learned today include the fact that the Craters of the Moon National Monument locale is IDAHO and the fact that Mandela co-wrote a book with CASTRO (45D: World leader who co-wrote the book "How Far We Slaves Have Come!" with Mandela). Also, YOWZAH sometimes has an "H." Only 80K Google hits to non-"H"'s 1.2 million, but ... It's Out There!