Hawaiian medicine man / MON 2-10-14 / Nine-headed serpent of myth / Preppy party-loving egotistical male in modern lingo / Position between second third informally
Monday, February 10, 2014
Constructor: C. W. Stewart
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: REC CENTER (62A: Gym locale … or feature of 17-, 24-, 38- and 50-Across) — letter string "REC" sits at the center of familiar phrases:
- SCORE CARD (17A: Item accompanying a pencil in miniature golf)
- SPARE CASH (24A: Money available for nonessentials)
- CREATURE COMFORT (38A: Food, warmth or a cozy bed)
- SCARECROW (50A: Stuffed figure in a cornfield)
Word of the Day: MYRTLE Beach (41D: ___ Beach, S.C.) —
Myrtle Beach // is a coastal city on the east coast of the United States in Horry County, South Carolina. It is situated on the center of a large and continuous stretch ofbeach known as the Grand Strand in northeastern South Carolina.Myrtle Beach is one of the major centers of tourism in the United States because of the city's warm subtropical climate and extensive beaches, attracting an estimated 14 million visitors each spring/summer/fall. As of the 2010 census, the population of the city was 27,109, with the Myrtle Beach-North Myrtle Beach-Conway combined statistical area population of 329,449. […] The area is home to numerous golf courses and mini-golf courses along the Grand Strand and further inland. Myrtle Beach has been called the "Golf Capital of the World" because of the 100 golf courses located there, the record 4.2 million rounds played, and many miniature golf courses. 3.7 million total rounds of golf were played in 2007. The majority of the area's golf courses are public. (wikipedia)
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KAHUNA. That was the answer I wanted for 30A: Hawaiian medicine man, largely because I had the "K," but … "medicine man" just didn't compute. I'm used to the phrase "Big KAHUNA," meaning, I don't know, some kind of big shot or important person. Which, I guess, a "medicine man" is, in some contexts. But I balked at writing in KAHUNA until I'd checked a bunch of the crosses, which took a little time, as SPARE CASH didn't go straight in and HASTY didn't come straight to mind … little things, but they slowed me. Needed a ton of crosses to see CREATURE COMFORT, but I knew that was going to be the case pretty quickly and so didn't even relook at that clue until I'd crossed it with a bunch of answers. The next snag was a misreading. I had AHS at 60D: Response to a massage (AAH). Clue is clearly singular. Brain registered plural. Who can say why? But the worst hold-up of all was MYRTLE Beach. I have heard the name a million times, always (I think) in the context of golf coverage I'm not really paying attention to. But ___ Beach, S.C. meant zero to me, and the more letters I put in … the more letters I put in, i.e. didn't matter. I had MYR-LE and didn't know what I was looking at. MYROLE? Of course the T-cross wasn't hard to pick up, but somehow the cumulative effect of all these hiccups was a slightly slower-than-normal time. Since I don't think my hiccups will be typical, I just rated it "Medium" (i.e. average for a Monday, i.e. easy).
Quality-wise, I wasn't that thrilled. It's solid, but slightly dull, with the AZALEA / SOUS CHEF portion of the grid being the mostly nicely executed. I also want to high-five the BRO clue (61D: Preppy, party-loving, egotistical male, in modern lingo). Nice work, bringing that one up to date—and so vividly. I can't help feeling that there must be a ton of "REC"-containing answers (where the "REC" is broken across two words), and at least *some* of them have to be more interesting than these. [I take that back—these RECs are *dead* center, which makes options more limited] I was surprised to see that not only had this theme never been done (with this revealer, anyway), but RECCENTER hasn't appeared in a mainstream puzzle in recent memory, if ever (nowhere in the cruciverb.com database). Weird.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld