Early tragedienne Duse / SAT 11-16-13 / G-Funk Classics rapper / Spartan gathering place / Long slender glass for drinking beer / Pioneering underground publication of 1960s / Evian competitor / Norwegian Romanticist / Italian P.M. Letta /
Saturday, November 16, 2013
Constructor: David Steinberg
Relative difficulty: Challenging
Word of the Day: REXALL (8D: ___ Place (Edmonton Oilers' arena)) —
Rexall was a chain of North American drugstores, and the name of their store-branded products. The stores, having roots in the federation of United Drug Stores starting in 1902, licensed the Rexall brand name to as many as 12,000 drug stores across the United States from 1920 to 1977. (The "Rex" in the name came from the common Rx abbreviation for drug prescriptions.)
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NLRB. NLRB (National Labor Relations Board) is not an agency I even knew about until crosswords, and it never, ever occurs to me. Any time I get it, it's through crosses. Today's crosses—hoo boy. Don't know what a REXALL is. It now sounds vaguely familiar (now that I've looked it up), but Edmonton Oilers? Who the hell knows? REXALT (my wrong answer) seemed reasonable to me. And PRS? I had to ask a friend what PRS were (i.e. I thought it was a plural, i.e. many PRs). Turns out it's the letters on the "7" key on a phone before cell phones (before there was a "Q" … not sure why cell phones can have "Q"s when "old" phones couldn't, but I don't care enough to look it up right now). So I went with PSS. Not because it made sense. But because I had NTSB at 29A: Strike-monitoring org. It didn't feel quite right, but what other org. starts "N" and ends "B" (he asked, naively)? I convinced myself that strikes might, in fact, relate to transportation safety, so NTSB / REXALT / PSS it was. I can't say the real answers look any better.
DEDE is DEDEsastrous. Just the worst thing ever please never use it again, everyone. And DREWU also sucks horribly dear god I hate it. ELEONORA is just made-up looking. [Name with a bunch of vowels] would've been just as helpful there. And aren't DOUBLE BEDs made for couples (15A: Tight squeeze for a couple?)? As opposed to a twin bed, say? I remember trying to sleep two to a twin bed in college—now *that* is a "tight squeeze." DOUBLE BED seems a reasonable choice for couples, so I'm confused on that one. But I quite liked the rest of it, especially the wickedly hard but fantastic-to-reveal ZAP COMIX (35D: Pioneering underground publication of the 1960s), the barely-remembered but super-looking AEON FLUX (37D: 1990s sci-fi series), and the fantastically-clued APPLE CARE (1A: Air protection program?) (I'm typing this on a MacBook Air). "I'M TOO SEXY" was also good, but way too much of a gimme for me (17A: 1992 chart-topper that mentions "my little turn on the catwalk").
Struggled everywhere. Actually, tore down the east side of the puzzle, but getting into the middle and west was rough for me. Had GALOSH for GAITER (48D: Boot covering), which slowed me down for a while. DADA for DEDE (duh duh). ALEYARD was very hard to come up with, and in general that SW corner was the toughest. I wouldn't be surprised if many people spun out there (as opposed to the weird place I spun out). Lots of names today, which also might've sunk people: VING, NATE DOGG, ANNA, ELON, CESAR, SOROS, ENRICO (?). I knew all but the last. [First name in fashion] = RALPH was vicious. Always expect a clue like that to be Italian or at least foreign and somehow chic. Not RALPH (Lauren). RALPH does not say "fashion." Not on its own. So that was a clever/hard clue. ROSLYN? No hope (23D: Long Island Rail Road station). Needed all crosses. Gotta live in NYC area to know that one, I'm guessing. Overall, an entertaining, if flawed, effort.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld