Broadway inspector / SAT 7-5-14 / Old Pokemon platform / Farm painter 1921 / Part of Roman empire in modern-day NE France / Greek city where Paul preached / Magister Ludi writer / Neckwear slider
Saturday, July 5, 2014
Constructor: David Steinberg
Relative difficulty: Challenging
Word of the Day: Theodore BIKEL (13D: Theodore of "The African Queen") —
Theodore Meir Bikel (born 2 May 1924) is an Austrian-American actor, folk singer, musician, and composer. He made his film debut in The African Queen (1951) and was nominated for an Academy awardfor his supporting role as Sheriff Max Muller in The Defiant Ones (1958).Bikel is President of the Associated Actors and Artistes of America and was president of Actors' Equity in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He serves as the Chair of the Board of Directors of Partners for Progressive Israel, where he also lectures. His autobiography, Theo, was published in 1995. (wikipedia)
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MIRO, HESSE) clued in ridiculously unidentifiable ways, or clued very vaguely. There was no point where I thought "ooh, good clue" and only one point at which I thought "ooh, good answer": BIKER CHICK (25D: Woman in a leather jacket, maybe) (though it's worth noting that if you google image search "biker chick," you don't see many leather jackets, or non-leather jackets, or clothing period). Actually, I like GENDER BIAS too, though I don't really like the clue (9D: Male issue?), largely because the clue itself is gender-biased. Not that men don't often have that issue—there's just something irritatingly ingratiating about that clue, as if it should be followed by "amirite, ladies!? [wink]." FAKE IDS over DIVE BAR is, in retrospect, a lovely little juxtaposition. Actually, you can throw JIM BEAM into the equation too (27A: Big brand from Clermont, Ky)—a perfect triple stack for a BIKER CHICK to drive through. But I think I just don't enjoy the challenge in a challenging puzzle coming from the white spaces being so open that I can't get any footholds, and then finding out that the thing that was holding me back was SCARF RING (wtffffff?) or GEAR OIL or GARDENA or BIKEL or some other thing I've barely or never heard of.
I killed myself today in a couple of places, most notably at 29D: Dot preceder, where I wrote in SITE NAME, and so much of it was confirmed that I left it in for far, far too long. That one, dumb error kept me from really opening up the middle for a good long time. I also had SGT where NCO was supposed to go, and YOUR HEAD (and then ONE'S HEAD) where COOL HEAD was supposed to go. Table-turner up there was finally seeing RAN IN (6D: Took for booking)—little phrase, big difference-maker. Struggled to make much headway in the SE until I stuck the -ICK down into it. Then it rolled over pretty readily (before that, it was SALLE and SUN GOD and a whole lotta nothing).
Puzzle felt like three puzzles—the NE-to-SW middle part, and then the two fat and isolated corners. That's another feature I find off-putting in puzzles: hyper-segmentation. There's just that one little square's worth of passage into either of the corners, so you have very little opportunity to build off of stuff you've already got. This is all fair, but it makes the experience less enjoyable for me. Still, as I say, the grid quality is truly remarkable.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld