Eldest Stark child on Game of Thrones / WED 3-26-14 / Holey plastic shoe / Anti-Civil War Northerner / N.B.A. great in Icy Hot commercials
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Constructor: Alex Vratsanos
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: ATOMIC / NUMBER (18D: With 38-Down, property of the first part of the answer to each starred clue (appropriately positioned in the grid))— answers to starred clues all start with an element of the Periodic Table, and the number of each clue is the same as the ATOMIC / NUMBER of the element in question.
- IRON MAIDEN (26D: *Medieval device with spikes) (Iron = At. No. 26)
- CARBON COPY (6D: *Typist's duplicate of old) (Carbon = At. No. 6)
- COPPERHEAD (29D: *Anti-Civil War Northerner) (Copper = At. No. 29)
- NEON LIGHTS (10D: *They're big on Broadway) (Neon - At. No. 10)
Word of the Day: Port PHILLIP Bay (49A: Australia's Port ___ Bay) —
Port Phillip (also commonly referred to as Port Phillip Bay or (locally) just The Bay), is a large bay in southernVictoria, Australia; it is the location of Melbourne. Geographically, the bay covers 1,930 square kilometres (480,000 acres) and the shore stretches roughly 264 km (164 mi). Although it is extremely shallow for its size, most of the bay is navigable. The deepest portion is only 24 metres (79 ft), and half the region is shallower than 8 m (26 ft). The volume of the water in the bay is around 25 cubic kilometres (6.0 cu mi). (wikipedia)
• • •Chronicle of Higher Education), and I think they're fine, generally, but this theme doesn't really add any enjoyment to the solve. It's a grid that's designed to get you to marvel at the constructor's cleverness. But for me … there's just this moment at the end, when I'm done, where I notice that the numbers of the clues and atomic numbers correspond. And then I shrug. Now there are some good answers in here, and the fill is probably better-than-average (ignoring that NES / ESSE / STER nexus up there). So overall it's a decent effort. But I think some solvers (esp. the ones who routinely geek out about anything sciencey) will be far more impressed by this than I was. I think it's clever. Neat. OK.
Puzzle was harder than usual due almost entirely to proper nouns completely unknown to me. Never heard of COPPERHEAD that wasn't a snake; no idea that Sydney's bay was called PHILLIP Bay; and ROBB (47A: Eldest Stark child on "Game of Thrones") … let's just say I knew my complete lack of interest in all things "Game of Thrones" would eventually come back to bite me in the ass, puzzle-wise. And here we are. I also had no idea what 50D: Barbaric sorts (HUNS) was at first. Seemed like it could be a million things. And had IN A moment, instead of AHA moment at 64A: ___ moment. Cluing today felt pretty fresh, which I enjoyed, even if part of that freshness was "GOfT"-related. You got CROCs (36A: Holey plastic shoe), you got Shaquille O'NEAL's Icy Hot commercials (5D: N.B.A. great in Icy Hot commercials), you got DJS taking REQUESTs at PROM. All in all, not a bad day.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld