Whale constellation / FRI 5-9-14 / Big player in Suez Crisis / Longtime Tab competitor / 1971-97 nation name / Horror film antagonist surnamed Thorn / Dickens protagonist surnamed Trent / Toast often given with Manischewitz / Nobel-winning economist who wrote Fuzzy Math /
Friday, May 9, 2014
Constructor: James Mulhern
Relative difficulty: Easy
Word of the Day: KEY TAGS (59A: Accessories purchased just for openers?) —
[I can't find a proper definition anywhere, but they appear to be what I would've called a "key chain," only slighter, and serving more of a labeling than a decorative function]
• • •
L'CHAIM!) was a gimme, and I got most of the crosses right away, which meant I was out of that NW section with both MOT JUSTE and MUMBO JUMBO under my belt in well under a minutes. Needed only the "K" from KIBBLE to get KRUGMAN (7A: Nobel-winning economist who wrote "Fuzzy Math"), and then filled in Every Single Cross, in order, from RENOIR to NELL, without hesitation. 15D: Horror film antagonist surnamed Thorn might've been very hard, except by the time I looked at it, I had the DAMI- part already filled in. Only issue was how to spell DAMIEN (from "The Omen"). I went with "A" at first, but that was easily corrected.
Eastern section went down just like the NE, 1-2-3 from the crosses on the longer answers, starting with ZAIRE (23D: 1971-97 nation name) and ending with YOST (28D: Royals manager Ned) (helps to be a baseball fan there, but Ned's name has appeared several times now, so probably best to try to commit it to memory now if you haven't already). First real resistance came on the other side of the grid, where I couldn't throw either long Across answer down. Ended up guessing KAYAKER at 35A: Olympian in a shell (SCULLER). But all I had to do was look at 29D: Devil dog's outfit: Abbr. to know that wouldn't work. Wrote in USMC, then NCAA, and then that section was done too. Hardest part for me was coming down out of there and into the SE. TOW ROPE was very hard to pick up from its "?" clue (43A: Line of tugboats?), and 41D: Shop shelter was too vague for me to be able to see AWNING immediately. But AL PACINO was a ridiculous gimme (53A: Actor with the line "Say hello to my little friend!"), so even that section didn't take that long to piece together. Never heard of KEY TAGS. Thought the clue (59A: Accessories purchased just for openers?) referred to key chains with bottle openers on them, so I wrote in KEY TABS … not that that makes any sense, really, but that's what my brain wanted, so there. Error didn't remain in place long. And then there was the least scintillating, final part of the grid, the SE, and once I figured out that NASSER (60A: Big player in the Suez Crisis) was spelled with an "E" and not an "A," I was all done.
I think I enjoyed this. It was all over so fast, I don't really know. Must've been smooth, else how would I have moved through it so quickly? Feels very choppy, with lots of short answers. Hard to believe a grid with so few long / marquee answers is only 68 words. I think the grid was solid and playful enough to make this a good Friday puzzle. Some problems in the NW (CETUS crossing ASYE) and SE (buncha crosswordese), but overall, this was enjoyable.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld