Tom Sawyer's bucketful / MON 7-7-14 / Beach town that's home to Cape Cod's oldest lighthouse / Celebrity chef Paula / Leon who was Obama's first CIA director
Monday, July 7, 2014
Constructor: Lynn Lempel
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (*for a Monday*)
THEME: BEAUTY / PARLOR (22D: With 33-Down, where to go for the ends of 16-, 20-, 40-, 56- and 62-Across):
- WHITE WASH (16A: Tom Sawyer's bucketful)
- PRICE CUT (20A: Lure for bargain hunters)
- MIND SET (40A: General way of thinking)
- EXTRA DRY (56A: Like some champagne)
- HONEY COMB (62A: Sweet spot in a hive)
Truro // is a town in Barnstable County, Massachusetts, United States, comprising two villages: Truro and North Truro. Located slightly more than 100 miles (160 km) by road from Boston, it is a summer vacation community just south of the northern tip of Cape Cod, in an area known as the "Outer Cape". English colonists named it after Truro in Cornwall, United Kingdom.The historic Wampanoag Native American people called the area Pamet or Payomet. Their language was part of the large Algonquian family. This name was adopted for the Pamet River and the harbor area around the town center known as the Pamet Roads. The population of Truro was 2,003 at the 2010 census.
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BEAUTY PARLOR to get a COMB??? I mean, of course the stylist might comb your hair, but that can't be the reason you went there, can it? Although I guess that's true of virtually all the theme-related words. Maybe all of them but CUT (because, again, I don't really get what SET is). So "where to go for the ends of…" really isn't the best phrasing on that revealer clue, is what I'm saying. "Place where one might get …"? The phrasing of the revealer should be exact, and something about "comb" as a noun is rubbing me wrong. In this context, I mean. Obviously, "comb" can be a noun. But you would not get "a comb" (the way you would "a cut" or "a wash"). Or would you? I'm out of my league here, as I completely did away with the hair on my head four years ago.
This one took longer than most Mondays, largely because of the grid set-up. The revealer is cross-referenced, so if (like me), you hit the second half first, you will get slowed down some. Also, the grid is super-choppy. Highly segmented. It is much harder to build up momentum in a puzzle where answers aren't grouped, where they're scattershot and the grid is honeycombed the way it is in the center. The answers can be just as easy to get, but there's a lot more back-and-forth, eye-skipping, looking around, that one has to do to make quick progress. This will affect speed solvers much (much) more than regular solvers. All Mondays are bound to feel roughly equally tough (i.e. not at all tough) to casual solvers. Unless, of course, there's some ridiculously out of place proper noun or something that really gums up your works. Speaking of...
- TRURO (50A: Beach town that's home to Cape Cod's oldest lighthouse) — Like the ring around the rosy-type game or whatever it was from last week's Tuesday puzzle, this seems intensely regionally biased. Population 2,003?! I remember seeing this for the first time in a NYT puzzle many years and being dumbfounded. Gibberish to me, and (I guarantee you) to tons and tons and tons of people who solve this puzzle and don't live in the NE. I can handle the answer here—it's fairly crossed—but I would never want it anywhere near my Easy puzzle. Sore Thumb Material, for sure.
- LOCI (15D: Centers of activity) — I think of LOCI as meaning, simply, "places." I think of LOKI as being a Norse trickster god. But back to LOCI—[Centers of activity]? I like FOCI better as an answer for that clue. LOCI does not imply activity to me. At all. Second definitions of this word are giving it as a "center or source, as of activities or power," but all the examples have qualifiers that do not justify this definition, e.g. "locus of power" ("locus" still seems like it just means "place" in this example—adding "of power" doesn't change the meaning of "locus"). Weird.
- 8D: Yankee who was the first major-leaguer to have his number retired (GEHRIG) — all over the news this past weekend because of the 75th anniversary of his famous "luckiest man on the face of the earth" speech (July 4, 1939).
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld