1963 Pulitzer winner Leon / 8-22-14 / Brand of bait pellets / Juan's sweetheart / Dos little words / Member of great quintet / So-called Helen of West Indies / Raise crops on Plains maybe / Literally fire bowl / Killing star Mireille
Friday, August 22, 2014
Constructor: Sam Ezersky
Relative difficulty: Medium (maybe slightly tougher)
Word of the Day: DRY FARM (45D: Raise crops on the Plains, maybe) —
A type of farming practiced in arid areas without irrigation by planting drought-resistant crops and maintaining afine surface tilth or mulch that protects the natural moisture of the soil from evaporation.
• • •YANK ON or YANK AT, which White House nickname, which Mideast president, what is DRY FARM, etc.? Nothing in the NW corner gave me much trouble, and virtually everything in the SE did—so much so that when I was done, I had an error, and only after I'd methodically checked every answer (and I mean Every answer: all the Acrosses and all the Downs) did I finally arrive at PAS … which is the French word for "not," but NOT the Spanish word for "peace"; that would be PAZ (63D: Guerra's opposite). I never did like EZER in my grid (like EDEL, as well as EDER (not pictured), it's pernicious name-crosswordese), and while I like him slightly better in his full-name form (67A: Mideast president who wrote "The Battle for Peace," 1981), I apparently can't spell his name. Went with WEISMAN. But no. I also didn't know "RAGA rock" was a thing, got stymied by the tough/good clue on PART I (53D: Epic start), and want to punch LA-Z in the face with all my might (61D: ___-Boy). Until an L.A. sports team called the Zippers comes along, and they are depicted "on the scoreboard" as LAZ, I never want to see that "answer" again. Thank you.
What is a BBQ SANDWICH? I'll admit I don't eat much meat, but I assumed that, with BBQ, the meat … was named … somehow. "Want a BBQ SANDWICH?" "Sure. [takes bite]." "You like it?" "Mffyeah … shsgood … [chew chew]." "It's rat." "[spit take]!" Thus concludes my mystery-meat BBQ SANDWICH skit.
SE corner aside, this puzzle was full of things I'm quite familiar with, for better or worse. I knew FRANK GEHRY—I've been to the very distinctive, lovely hall mentioned in the clue (30A: Walt Disney Concert Hall designer). I got IBN and TE AMO and MPEG and INO and DCON and LIRR and LYE and ENOS and 3/4 of EDEL (22D: 1963 Pulitzer winner Leon) so easily that I kind of wanted to high-five myself a few times, mid-solve. Except for GEHRY and possibly DEEP THROAT (47A: "All the President's Men" figure) and eventually BLISTER PACK (60A: Pill holder), there wasn't a lot that excited me. But overall, this is fairly solid work.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld