Democrat in Bush cabinet / FRI 5-23-14 / Actress in best-selling 1979 swimsuit poster / Notable buried at Cathedral of Lima / Rosalind Russell title role / Capital of France's Manche department / Latin America's northernmost city / Mitsubishi model whose name means huntsman in spanish / Arizona city across border from city of Sonora with same name
Friday, May 23, 2014
Constructor: David Steinberg
Relative difficulty: Challenging
Word of the Day: DEGAUSS (23A: Make less attractive?) —
Degaussing is the process of decreasing or eliminating a remnant magnetic field. It is possibly named after the Gauss unit of magnetism, which in turn is named after Carl Friedrich Gauss. Due to magnetic hysteresis it is generally not possible to reduce a magnetic field completely to zero, so degaussing typically induces a very small "known" field referred to as bias. Degaussing was originally applied to reduce ships' magnetic signatures during WWII. Degaussing is also used to reduce magnetic fields in CRT monitors and to destroy data held on magnetic data storage. (wikipedia)
• • •Several feelings.
Not sure what's so hard about getting day-of-the-week placement right. Twice this week we've had wildly misplaced puzzles. Monday's should've been T or W. Today's is clearly a Saturday.
When I hit the Zs, I felt such massive disappointment. Puzzle went from tough-but-fair and somewhat interesting to gimmicky, on a dime. Weirdly, knowing there was a Z-block there made the puzzle *easier* than it would've been, but that didn't make me happy. It just made me frustrated at having to deal with off-cluing (like [Flusters] for TIZZIES) and words I've barely or never heard of like FOOZLER (35A: Bungler).
The fill on this is very solid. Impressively so. Hard to get fill to consistently acceptable levels when you're dealing with so much white space. Nothing here to really make you go "wow" (unless you have a Z fetish), but give it up for the relative smoothness. This bodes well for David's future pursuit of the Patrick Berry Themeless Ideal (PBTI).
Let's look at some hot and not-so-hot spots. First a side note: I solved this *immediately* upon waking. Well, no, I let the dogs out and fed them first, but then straight upstairs to the office to solve. I thought this was the reason my time was so slow, but then I checked the times posted online and realized I wasn't alone. Still, I feel like having coffee in me might've helped me get out of that NW corner a little faster, as, for a while, NLEAST was about the only thing I was sure of. USA USA! and EATS and STU followed, and then LATE AUTUMN, but after that, I just got stuck. None of the Downs made sense. You'd think "publicity" would've led me to STUNT at 6D: Means of attracting publicity, but no. Wrote in AIR GUNS then took it out because … it didn't sound that Olympian to me. Had ORION for the [Mythical hunter] at one point, and, worst of all, FISSURES for 1A: Tears (yeah, I know, it's perfect—perfectly wrong, but perfect).
MONTERO (39A: Mitsubishi model whose name means "huntsman" in Spanish). This is where the cluing on TIZZIES and the strangeness of FOOZLER really kept me held up. Put in and took out DIONE several times. Wanted HENNAED, then thought it looked dumb. In, out, in. Took me forever to see TONTINE, a word I know from "The Simpsons" but would never have thought of as a synonym for [Life insurance plan]. Forgot FENNEL was a "bulb"—kept looking for onion-type plants there. OMNI? Sorry, my Book of Mormon book knowledge is rusty. ERLE C. Kenton. Come on. When you have to put ERLE in your puzzle, admit to yourself that you have used crosswordese, accept it, and give us a Stanley Gardner clue. Make it a good one. Make it a tough one. But don't try to con me into believing other ERLEs qualify. They don't.
See you tomorrow, when I will be stunned if I don't solve the puzzle faster than I did this one.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld