Old-fashioned shelter along highway / FRI 6-6-14 / Notable senate testifier of 1991 / Gaga contemporary / Language originally known as Mocha / Land formation known for its caves / Florida's so-called Waterfront Wonderland / Best-selling food writer Drummond / Reanimation after apparent death / Feature of Norman Rockwell self-portrait / Willy pioneering writer on rocketry
Friday, June 6, 2014
Constructor: Kameron Austin Collins
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
Word of the Day: NARUTO (26A: Popular Japanese manga seen on the Cartoon Network) —
(ナルト?) is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Masashi Kishimoto. It tells the story of Naruto Uzumaki, an adolescent ninja who constantly searches for recognition and dreams to become theHokage, the ninja in his village who is acknowledged as the leader and the strongest of all. The series is based on a one-shot manga by Kishimoto that was published in the August 1997 issue of Akamaru Jump. […] Naruto is one of the best-selling manga series in history, having sold more than 130 million copies in Japan alone. It has also become one of North American publisher Viz Media's best-selling manga series. Their English adaptation of the series has appeared in the USA Today Booklist several times and volume 7 won the Quill Award in 2006. Reviewers of the series have praised the balance between fighting and comedy scenes, as well as the characters' personalities, but have criticized it for using standard shōnen manga plot elements. (wikipedia)
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SPITAL (wtf?) (15D: Old-fashioned shelter along a highway) and RIS, but the rest of the grid is so bouncy that I don't mind that much. Cluing also seemed tougher than normal. [Pickup line?] for RAMS took me forever. I had no, and I mean No, idea "Bonanza" had anything to do with TAHOE (29A: "Bonanza" setting). I had it somewhere in the more traditional Old West states (your Arizonas or New Mexicos or Oklahomas or Texaseses). Completely forgot the word KARST, which I've still only ever encountered in crosswords, and then only rarely (51D: Land formation known for its caves). Had [Reed section?] as SEN. because of Harry Reid (D-NV), which, now that I write his name out, makes no sense. The stickler in me wanted KESHA's name to have the "$" sign in it instead of the "S," but then I remembered that she dropped it and is now just KESHA (9D: Gaga contemporary). No-dollars KESHA. Speaking of, I wonder if people who don't know her had trouble with 5A: Athletic short? (FIVE K). FIVEK looks nuts in the grid, and that K in KESHA is utterly uninferable.
So I got my money's worth today—genuine workout for a Friday (8+ minutes), with a surprising, fresh, diverse grid to boot. I was just talking with my wife earlier today about how, ideally, the crossword reflects the breadth of human knowledge and experience, not just the knowledge and experience of an insular cultural elite. And then, bam, "NARUTO" shows up and makes my point—not familiar territory for most inveterate solvers, but massively popular nonetheless, and therefore very much worthy of grid inclusion. In all things, balance. As I said, this grid was perhaps a little too name-heavy, but at least those names came from All Over Hell And Gone, and therefore provided solvers of all backgrounds with different access points.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld