Automaker Bugatti / FRI 6-20-14 / First stabber of Caesar / Business bigwig Blavatnik / Eponymous German physicist / Top ten hit for Eminem 3 Doors Down / Tenor Vickers / Romance novelist Leigh / 1930 tariff act co-sponsor / Scottish island that's home to Fingal's Cave / She played Detective Sasha Monroe on Third Watch / Hug Shel Silverstein poem / Composition of Accent seasoning
Friday, June 20, 2014
Constructor: Martin Ashwood-Smith
Relative difficulty: Challenging
Word of the Day: ST. AFFA (whoops, nope, that's one word: STAFFA) (40D: Scottish island that's home to Fingal's Cave) —
Scottish Gaelic: Stafa, pronounced [s̪t̪afa]) from the Old Norse for stave or pillar island, is an island of the Inner Hebrides in Argyll and Bute, Scotland. The Vikings gave it this name as its columnar basaltreminded them of their houses, which were built from vertically placed tree-logs.Staffa lies about 10 kilometres (6 mi) west of the Isle of Mull. The area is 33 hectares (82 acres) and the highest point is 42 metres (138 ft) above sea level.The island came to prominence in the late 18th century after a visit by Sir Joseph Banks. He and his fellow-travellers extolled the natural beauty of the basalt columns in general and of the island's main sea cavern, which Banks renamed 'Fingal's Cave'. Their visit was followed by those of many other prominent personalities throughout the next two centuries, including Queen Victoria and Felix Mendelssohn. The latter'sHebrides Overture brought further fame to the island, which was by then uninhabited. It is now in the care of the National Trust for Scotland. (wikipedia)
• • •
LETTS and (esp.) ETTORE (!?!). Honestly, both the "R" and the "E" in TRE (20A: ___ cord (piano direction)), were, for me, an out-and-out guess. Cross your fingers, hope for the best. It's just an obscure proper noun / foreign word train wreck right there. Also, who is LORA Leigh? What is "Hug O'WAR"? What is "A DOSE of Rock 'n' Roll"? If the fill in any of these cases was actually interesting and not the kind of horrid compromises we always see in quad stack crosses, maybe. But … wow. Even making allowances for my own personal anti-stack predilection, I found this miserable. Honestly, when I saw that there were not one but two ONE'S phrases in the first stack, I just stopped trying / caring. When we invent *joke* 15s, that is the kind of crap we make up—random phrases with ONE'S in them. ONE'S is now such a huge, obvious, joke of a crutch, that unless you can make a stack without resorting to such a phrase, just give up. Give. Up. See also REAL ESTATE SALES, a flimsy answer that exists solely to provide a long string of very common letters (54A: Focus of GHTV's "House Hunters").
HES, THES, THEE, AT ME … the absurd Scrabble-f***king in the east and west … the laughably obscure STAFFA … it's beyond me. You can have it. Good + night.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld