Physicist who studied supersonics / WED 8-7-13 / Sarcastic remark upon hearing bad news / Phil who sang Draft Dodger Rag / Oil-rich nation invaded in 1990 / Rte with terminus in Key West / Tierra surrounded by agua / conventionality is not morality
Wednesday, August 7, 2013
Constructor: Erik Wennstrom
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: TWIST OF LEMON (23D: Drink garnish ... or a hint to five letters in the answer to each starred clue) — theme answers contain rearrangements of the letters L, E, M, O and N:
- 4D: *Precious, brief time with a loved one (STOLEN MOMENT)
- 20A: *What paper profits aren't (REAL MONEY)
- 31A: *Photo gear with variable focal lengths (ZOOM LENSES)
- 42A: *Titularly (IN NAME ONLY)
- 53A: *Sarcastic remark upon hearing bad news ("KILL ME NOW")
Word of the Day: Sam RAIMI (12D: "Spider-Man" director Sam) —
Samuel M "Sam" Raimi (born October 23, 1959) is an American film director, producer, writer and actor, best known for directing the cult horror comedy Evil Dead series, the superhero film Darkman, and the Spider-Man trilogy; his most recent work is 2013's fantasy film Oz the Great and Powerful. Raimi is also the producer of several successful television series. He is also the founder of Renaissance Pictures. Recently, he worked as the producer of The Possession, and the 2013 remake of Evil Dead. (wikipedia)
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IN NAME ONLY is the outlier in this regard. Still, the theme is dense and there are tons of Scrabbly letters and there's very little in the way of bad fill, so thumbs up. What I'm most obsessed by here is the failure to use "V." It shows such glorious, almost perverse restraint to pull up one letter short of a pangram—and not even a difficult-to-shoehorn letter like "Q" or "J." I mean ... I can put a "V" in here easy, with absolutely no damage to the quality of the overall fill. And so, likely, could the constructor. But he didn't. God bless him, he didn't. I want to shake his hand. Pangrams are, still, for suckers.
KILL ME NOW" is the highlight of this grid. I balked at NEW DAD (59A: One passing out cigars, maybe) as I was filling it in, but about a second later did a 180 and decided it was just fine. Weird experience, that. I tore through this puzzle somewhere in the lowish 3s. Felt as if getting EYRE from crosses and (thus) JANE as a freebie really catapulted me (7D: With 2-Down, book that includes the line "Conventionality is not morality"). Everything just fell into place. The one area I flailed around slightly was in the SW, where I finished. That "Q" didn't come into view easily. With several of the 5s down there, I didn't get them at first glance. And yes, on a Wednesday, with letters in place, I do generally expect to get a 5 at first glance. Missing several in a row can definitely feel like a dead stop, even if the reality is only a lost 10 seconds or so. Oh, I got a little disoriented by the ERNST / MACH connection (13D: With 61-Across, physicist who studied supersonics). I got ERNST from crosses. Then when I got to MACH I thought "whose name is MACH? That's not a name?" I was thinking *first* name, probably because I know ERNST best as a last name (of artist Max ERNST). When you sail through a puzzle in just over 3, small anomalies and glitches like this stand out.