Rescuer of Princess Peach / SAT 3-22-14 / One of Leakey's Trimates / High rollers in casino lingo / Three Stooges creator Healy / Did entrechat
Saturday, March 22, 2014
Constructor: Greg Johnson
Relative difficulty: Medium
Word of the Day: GREBE (44D: Diving bird) —
A grebe // is a member of the order Podicipediformes, a widely distributed order of freshwater diving birds, some of which visit the sea when migrating and in winter. This order contains only a singlefamily, the Podicipedidae, containing 22 species in 6 extant genera. // Grebes are small to medium-large in size, have lobed toes, and are excellent swimmers and divers. However, although they can run for a short distance, they are prone to falling over, since they have their feet placed far back on the body. (wikipedia)
• • •ZIP DRIVE (18A: Obsolescent storage device). Even with the Scrabble letters, I can't get that excited about a tepid phrase like ZOO EXHIBIT (22A: One often behind bars). I really think themelesses should offer some pizzazz, something fresh and fun, and this puzzle—while expertly made and without obvious defect—is just workmanlike and adequate. Stuff like ALTERANT and RENTABLE just clonk. They're words, but not good ones. Still, there is very little in the way of bad stuff, and some of the clues showed cleverness and thoughtfulness, so while not wowed, I'm something close to satisfied.
FLEW BY (1A: Passed in a blur), this puzzle did. I had worked the whole thing down to just the tiny SE corner in just over 6 minutes (!!!). But then, clonk. Derailment. Free fall. Other metaphor signifying stoppage. See if you can guess the problem. Actually, you probably can, because it probably happened to you. I had GRAPE and wrote in JUICE. Then I *confirmed* that answer by crossing the "J" with JUMBO. Then I got UPPED and ABLAZE and OAF … and yet all the 6-letter Downs remained peskily unsolved. I invented a plant part—the CUPOLA—at 39D: Protection for flowers in bud (SEPALS), but that didn't help much. So after a minute or so of this, I did the professional thing and took out JUICE. If the "J" works, I reasoned, then maybe … JELLY. And that was that.
I found the puzzle very easy, even with that SE corner hiccup. But others, clearly, did not. So I'm curious about where people struggled. I felt like I couldn't miss today. Got PLUS / MINUS off just the "P". The NE corner may as well not have existed. Once you get ZOO EXHIBIT and the stuff beneath it, GAZEBOS and ELIXIR are obvious, and every long Across goes in bang bang bang. I kept waiting for the hammer to drop, and it did, I guess, a little, in the SE, but overall there was very little resistance for me. I'd like to thank crosswords past for teaching me what a GREBE is. I have no doubt that knowledge contributed significantly to my quickness today.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld