Ruined rose-red city of Jordan / FRI 6-27-14 / Weapons inspector Blix / Singer John with 1984 #1 hit Missing You / Language in which talofa means hello / Its bottles feature red triangles / Dreidel letter / Barnacle James Joyce's wife muse
Friday, June 27, 2014
Constructor: Peter A. Collins
Relative difficulty: Medium to Medium-Challenging
Word of the Day: GIMEL (25A: Dreidel letter) —
The third letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
[Hebrew gîmel, of Phoenician origin.]
Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/gimel#ixzz35nsIyLTi
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UGARTE and ELY and PETRA and (esp.) EL ORO (24D: Ecuadorean province named for its gold production), the last of which I technically only vaguely remembered. "Ecuadorean province" is pretty much quintessential Maleska-era clue language, i.e. rank arcana. But these are spaced out and not too offensive. I'd say the cluing was as much the source of pleasure in this puzzle as the words themselves. [Celebrates wordlessly] had me thinking "silence"—wrong (APPLAUDS). I couldn't get my head around what part of speech "Cry" was in [Cry when rubbing it in], so TOLD YA came as a nice surprise (one I figured out only after going "wait, nothing ends in '-DYA'…"). Even ET TU got a decent, surprising clue (31A: Surprising words from Shakespeare?), though the words are more "surprised" than "surprising" (which is, I guess, why the clue has a "?").
ITHAS (41A: "___ to be!"). I see how this works as a partial. Now. But not then. It's pretty tortured as partials go. And I just stared at "-HAS" for what felt like ever. Because I couldn't imagine an answer there, the whole lower middle got held up. The other problem was that HOT AS BLUE BLAZES was not coming to me (47A: Sizzling)—that phrase happens to be weirdest right in the middle, i.e. right in the place where I was having trouble because of nearby ITHAS. I could see BLAZES were probably involved because I had the "Z," and I got HOT pretty easily, but I wanted HOTTER THAN BLAZES (doesn't fit). So between ITHAS and the middle of the BLAZES phrase and the tough clue on TOLDYA, I got bogged down. But I still like the grid, for the most part, and thought it was clued with a good Friday amount of difficulty and cleverness.
Oh, and DRS / RENI was a total guess. Probably had to be the "R" because who else but DRS develop therapies? But RENI? (12D: "Crucifixion of St. Peter" painter) Yipes. No clue. John WAITE, however, I remembered. Pays to be an '80s adolescent. I just looked, and I can sing every word to every #1 song of 1984. No sweat. 30 years ago today, this was #1. And yep, every word (though I think I'm making some of the words up):
Wrong answers: DUNS (?) for BUMS (7A: Borrows without intending to repay) … I think that's it. I had some terrible *ideas* (SCRIBE for SCREEN, ICBM for STEN, EXE for ELY) but I didn't actually write any of them in.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld