2001 best seller about competitive Scrabble / WED 6-18-14 / One-named singer who married Heidi Klum / Bindle toters / Wonderland cake message / Newport Beach isle
Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Constructor: Amy Johnson
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: BLANK TILE (58A: What you'd need to play 26-, 29-, 43- or 45-Across) — A Scrabble-related theme, where all the theme answers contain two of a letter for which there is only one tile in Scrabble (hence the need for the BLANK TILE to play the word—BLANK TILEs can be any letter you want them to be, or so I understand; I don't play)
- JUJITSU (26A: Japanese "soft art" (max opening score of 92 points))
- TSKTSKS (29A: Sounds of censure (max opening score of 80 points))
- SPAZZES (43A: Totally inept sorts (max opening score of 104 points))
- XEROXED (45A: Ran off, in a way (max opening score of 94 points))
Seal Henry Olusegun Olumide Adeola Samuel (born 19 February 1963), known by his mononym Seal, is a British soul and R&B singer-songwriter. He has sold more than 30 million albums worldwide and is known for his numerous international hits, including "Kiss from a Rose", which appeared on the soundtrack to the 1995 film Batman Forever. He was a coach on The Voice Australia in 2012 and 2013.Seal has won numerous music awards throughout his career, including three Brit Awards—winning Best British Male in 1992, four Grammy Awards, and an MTV Video Music Award. As a songwriter, he received the Ivor Novello award, for Best Song Musically and Lyrically, in consecutive years for "Killer" (1990)and "Crazy" (1991). [ed.: IVOR!] [wikipedia]
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WORD FREAK a decade or so ago—whenever it came out. But I couldn't finish; nothing to do with the writing, everything to do with the culture being documented. So, as I say, I was not predisposed to like this. Adjusting for that prejudice, this seems a decent enough puzzle. It doesn't seem any great shakes to get these particular words into the grid. Lots of words have two "K"s, or two "Z"s, so the word choices seem quite arbitrary. Also, TSKTSKS is possibly the worst word ever invented—no joy seeing that in the grid. But the puzzle has a consistent core concept, and WORD FREAK is a good, reasonably contemporary tie-in, and the fill is no worse than average, so I'll give this a passing grade. If nothing else, the Scrabbly letters get you some colorful crosses.
I was under the impression that SPAZ(ZES) was pejorative / offensive, and several dictionaries say "yes," but other sites say that the word lost whatever offensiveness it used to have, or that, at any rate, offensiveness is contextual. To me this word is like "retard," in the sense that I used it all the time when I was a kid to refer to, say, my sister, but I would never use it now (having acquired a somewhat larger vocabulary and a somewhat greater desire not to offend people unnecessarily). I found the word jarring, however Scrabble-legal. But I can't get too mad at a puzzle that contains EAT ME, PRICK!
- 1D: Mini-metro (TOWN) — I had no idea what this was getting at. To me, a "metro" is a form of public transportation. I think I wrote in TRAM.
- 6D: 1974 Mocedades hit whose English version is titled "Touch the Wind" ("ERES TU") — the only (and I mean only) thing that redeems this lengthy piece of pure crosswordese is its symmetrically with Yet Another U-ending word (XANADU).
- 65A: Guinness word (MOST) — it only occurred to me just now that this answer has nothing to do with beer.