Outermost Aleutian island / WED 12-18-13 / What Charlie rides in 1959 hit / Serengeti speedster / Longhorn's grid rival / Clark's Smallville crush / Adopt-a-thon's adoptees
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Constructor: Ed Sessa
Relative difficulty: Medium (leaning toward Med-Challenging)
THEME: Definite article breakaway — Phrases that begin w/ indefinite article "A" are clued as if that "A" were affixed to the beginning of the subsequent word. As for cluing: There Will Be Wackiness!
- 17A: Plaque from a governor? (AWARD OF THE STATE)
- 36A: Mime's motto? (AWAY WITH WORDS)
- 59A: Arrive via a red-eye? (ALIGHT IN THE DARK)
Attu (Aleut: Atan) is the westernmost and largest island in the Near Islands group of the Aleutian Islands of Alaska, and the westernmost point of land relative to Alaska, the United States, and North America. The island is currently uninhabited.
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ATTU / ATTN crossing. ATTU is the worst kind of prehistoric crosswordese and should only come out In Case Of Emergencies. But these are tiny little sections we're talking about. 3x4 stuff. Every constructor I know can fill that section better, within a matter of minutes, possibly less. Consider also the almost-as-terrible southern section (180 degrees from the ATTU disaster). You're crossing IRE and IRAE? Really? Really??? Aside from IRAE's sucking and IRE's being dull, there's the somewhat glaring fact of their being So Closely Etymologically Related They May As Well Be the Same Word. Constructors I know wouldn't want IRE and IRAE to be *in the same grid* let alone crossing each other. It's actually kind of mind-boggling how lazy this sort of thing is. Dear lord, just go to SASHES instead of GASHES and watch the possibilities for a non-IRAE universe open up! Again, it's a tiny section. You can gut it and refill it Over and Over. Why subject your subscribers to such half-assert?
Longer Downs are solid enough. Really like SHOEBOX and its clue. Longer Acrosses were just confusing—answers that long are usually themers. Very distracting. Not as distracting as Getting The Hamlet Quote Wrong (44A: "Something is rotten in Denmark"), but distracting nonetheless. For whatever reason, I found this one slightly harder to move through than most Wednesdays. My first problem was misreading 1A: Good ol' boy (BUBBA) as [Good ol' cowboy] (???). Then there was the Aleutian island thing (old school solvers know that AT-- has *two* viable Aleutian answers). Real problems around USE BY—had UNTIL there, and also wanted RACE or HEAT for DASH and EMIT for SPEW. Otherwise, no real difficulties.
Nominated for permanent retirement: ATTU, BAHA
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld