Ruess lead singer of Fun / FRI 4-11-14 / Eastern hereditary title / Home of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park / Target of 1972 ban / Daddy Warbucks's henchman / Order of ancient Greeks / Planet whose inhabitants age backward / 3 O'clock blues hitmaker 1952
Friday, April 11, 2014
Constructor: Peter Wentz
Relative difficulty: Medium
Word of the Day: KURTIS Blow (29D: Rapper ___ Blow) —
Kurt Walker (born August 9, 1959), professionally known by his stage name Kurtis Blow, is an Americanrapper and record producer. He is the first commercially successful rapper and the first to sign with a majorrecord label. "The Breaks", a single from his 1980 debut album, is the first certified gold record rap song. (wikipedia)
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You can really tell how difficult the wide open spaces are to fill well by looking at this puzzle—the middle is fine, but with the exception of KAFKAESQUE (which feels like it must've been a seed answer) (32A: Maddeningly surreal), it pales in comparison to the much snappier and more varied NW and SE corners. Not only do several answers end -ERS, almost every answer is a plural. Look at that diagonal of Ss from the end for MCS (46A: Runs the show, for short) running NE for … well, forever. I certainly don't care that much. The answers don't have that horrible forced, made-up quality that you sometimes see in these big white spaces. But the heavy reliance on plurals shows you how hard it is to cover that much ground without having your fill quality start to sag and groan.
I started with ORE, BLADES, and CZAR, which gave me the B and K to get the BACK in MOVE BACK and the R, L and Z to get I REALIZE, and things took off from there. Once I threw those long Acrosses into the center, I thought for sure I'd keep flying, but despite getting FAT CATS, FACE MASKS, PACKERS, and starting work on the NE, I had empty patches in the middle and couldn't get into the SW. The patches, it turns out, had the golden Initial Ks in them. No hope for KATE MOSS (34D: Model introduced in the 1990s) or KINESCOPE (32D: Part of a TV archive) or KITTENS without them. Eventually pieced together KAFKAESQUE after checks of all the crosses determined -KAES- had to be right. Let me tell you, nothing like getting KAFKAESQUE to open your grid right up. Initial K was what allowed me access to the SW, and that Q got me down into the SE. Finished both the NE and SW in an eye blink. SE I had to wrestle a little, as NATE and DORIC and DIVEST and DUPED and CODE proved very slippery. Luckily, all the longer Acrosses down there were a relative cinch.
Spring Break! (for me, anyway)
See you tomorrow.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld