Cousin of screwdriver / FRI 8-2-13 / Plutoid just beyond Kuiper belt / Marathoner Pippig / Weena's race in fiction / It replaced Indian rupee in 1932 / Largest city in South Pacific / Lack of authorisation / Relative d'un etudiant
Friday, August 2, 2013
Constructor: Barry Silk
Relative difficulty: Medium
Word of the Day: BRADAWL (41A: Cousin of a screwdriver) —
An awl with a beveled tip, used to make holes in wood for brads or screws.
Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/bradawl#ixzz2am2n8IGK
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This was not as interesting or entertaining to me as most recent Barry Silk puzzles have been. That's a pretty high bar. I think this one is just fine. It's just that having to work to reveal technical terms I don't know and don't care that much about (see esp. BRADAWL) isn't satisfying. Struggle + aha = awesome. Struggle + "that's a thing?" = shrug. Banks of long Acrosses in the NW and SE are nice, as you'd expect in a Silk puzzle. Not nearly as fond as some of the 3s he had to use to make the stacks come off—that IGN / DAH / ILO sequence is particularly noxious. Everything else seems just fine.
Started off easily enough, with KIDNEY BEAN as a gimme (1A: Food item resembling an organ). Easy enough to hack away at the Downs from there and thus take care of the NW. AIR FRANCE was a tough get, but I managed to get into that NE section via ULULATE. Then there was getting down from there—I wanted LEGAL TENDER, but couldn't make most of the stuff crossing TENDER work, so I backed off and went over to the west. LULU got me the "L" that I needed to get LIGHT SECOND (22D: About 186,282 miles). Getting that answer quickly significantly altered the difficulty level of the puzzle. Because I nailed it, SW was done in a heartbeat and I was able to move over to the SW from there. From there it was just a short trip up BRUSQUE (a lovely word, btw) (41D: Curt) to my last stand, the puzzle's big trouble spot—BRADAWL, a word I've never seen. That also happens to be the Ugliest part of the grid, or ugly-adjacent at any rate. NCAA / NCAR = yucky crossing, esp. right next to the LegalTENDer / ExTENDs crossing (with TEND also in the grid at 62A—nice). Thought the black mts were in NDAK. Wasn't even sure I knew what a "sports ticker" was. NCAA has about as much to do with a "sports ticker" as it does with any place one might see sports written or talked about anywhere. The abbr. is way too common to be that absurdly-tightly clued. But the issue for me really is having the climactic moment be: BRADAWL! Thud.
- 16A: Plutoid just beyond the Kuiper belt (ERIS) — this was easy. Why was this easy? I guess ... four letters, dwarf planet ... yeah, easy.
- 17A: Many a detective film cover-up (TRENCHCOAT) — one of many fine clues today. I also enjoyed [Lack of authorisation?] for ZED and ["Casablanca" carrier] for AIR FRANCE (hard!) and [Intro to Euclidean geometry?] for NON-. I had NEO-, which shows you what I know about the various geometries.
- 56A: It replaced the Indian rupee in 1932 (IRAQI DINAR) — Indian rupee was currency in Iraq at one point. I did not know that.
- 8D: Weena's race, in fiction (ELOI) — not sure "in fiction" is needed here. Interestingly, I would prefer seeing WEENA to seeing ELOI—if only for novelty's sake.
- 23D: Marathoner Pippig (UTA) — No idea, and yet somehow I *knew*. Name sort of came to me. Just felt right. I couldn't tell you a Thing about her.
- 59D: Publisher of World of Work mag. (ILO) — Got it immediately. Why? Again, who knows? I do Not like ILO as an answer—terrible crosswordese—but when you make puzzles, you get Very Familiar with the crosswordese and what it means and how you might clue it. If you're lucky, you also arrive at "why you should avoid it whenever possible." ILO was the one blight on the best puzzle I ever made (w/ PuzzleGirl—an L.A. Times puzzle that Will rejected. Twice) (29-Across, here).