Blue-flowered Mediterranean herb / FRI 7-18-14 / 1994 memoir with chapter on New Robot Novels / Campus spot for Bluto Otter and Boon
Friday, July 18, 2014
Constructor: Ian Livengood
Relative difficulty: Fridayish
THEME: No theme
Word of the Day: BORAGE (49A: Blue-flowered Mediterranean herb) —
Borage /ˈbɒr.ɪdʒ/ (Borago officinalis), also known as a starflower, is an annual herb. It is native to the Mediterranean region and has naturalized in many other locales. It grows satisfactorily in gardens in the UK climate, remaining in the garden from year to year by self-seeding. The leaves are edible and the plant is grown in gardens for that purpose in some parts of Europe. The plant is also commercially cultivated for borage seed oil extracted from its seeds. (Wikipedia)
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I was chatting with Ryan Hecht (owner of the Clover Theater and co-founder of Lollapuzzoola) last week, and we decided that the Friday puzzle is usually the best puzzle of the NY Times week, especially when it's constructed by one of the classic Friday constructors: Berry, Quigley, Silk, Nothnagel. Ryan remembers the first time he was able to correctly finish an entire Friday NY Times puzzle. What a thrill! And that thrill gave birth to a crossword blog & hooking up with some dude named Brian to put together a weekly podcast and an amazing crossword tournament which, by the way, is the only crossword tournament currently held in New York City. (Register now!) But what if Ryan had run into an impossible crossing? Or if he'd been interrupted and never come back to that pivotal Friday puzzle? The course of human history would have been changed forever, and I'd have nothing to do on a Saturday in August.
An Ian Livengood byline is a welcome sight on a Friday, so let's get to the puzzle. Typically smooth Livengoodian grid. A bit on the easy side for a Friday, but I'm usually on Ian's wavelength. I'm going to give him a demerit for OON at 52-Across. There's a reason it spells "Noo!" backwards. However OON is a small price to pay for YA HEARD, 'FRAID SO, RUSSIAN MOB, RODEO DRIVE, SLEAZEBALL, THE REBELS, RAP GROUPS, etc. There's plenty to like here.
- DELTA HOUSE (12D: Campus spot for Bluto, Otter and Boon) — Double secret probation! Super entry. All the long entries are fun today, though I'm not 100% sold on ...
- I GET IT OKAY (28D: "All right already!") — Whaddya think? I wanted it to be I GET IT, I GET IT. This works, but it feels a tad arbitrary to me.
- COSTAS (22A: Bob of play-by-play) — I initially entered UECKER, because who doesn't love Bob Uecker? Juuust a bit outside.
- BED HOP (35A: Sleep around) — I was looking for something cutesy here, so the straightforward answer surprised me. This one and HELL (3D: Something to catch from scolding parents) give the puzzle a mildly saucy vibe.
- I, ASIMOV (1994 memoir with a chapter on "New Robot Novels") — Ooh, I should read this. Asimov is great, and he wrote a bajillion books.