Czech reformer Jan / THU 8-14-14 / Lovable 650-pound TV character / Biblical betrayer / Commercial start for Pen / Former Ford full-sizes / Another name for Odysseus / First mass-production auto company outside the US
Thursday, August 14, 2014
Constructor: Jason Flinn
Relative difficulty: Challenging
THEME: UNDER/PASS (52A: One of two engineering features depicted in this puzzle) — six different answers go through an UNDER/PASS, i.e. start on one side of the grid but then get interrupted and continue on the other side of the grid:
- ELEVATED HIGHWAY (5D: One reason for a 52-Across)
- RAILROAD TRESTLE (7D: Another reason for a 52-Across)
Word of the Day: HEL (15D: Daughter of Loki) —
In Norse mythology, Hel is a being who presides over a realm of the same name, where she receives a portion of the dead. Hel is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and theProse Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson. In addition, she is mentioned in poems recorded inHeimskringla and Egils saga that date from the 9th and 10th centuries, respectively. An episode in the Latin workGesta Danorum, written in the 12th century by Saxo Grammaticus, is generally considered to refer to Hel, and Hel may appear on various Migration Period bracteates.In the Poetic Edda, Prose Edda, and Heimskringla, Hel is referred to as a daughter of Loki, and to "go to Hel" is to die. In the Prose Edda book Gylfaginning, Hel is described as having been appointed by the god Odin as ruler of a realm of the same name, located in Niflheim. In the same source, her appearance is described as half black and half flesh-coloured and further as having a gloomy, downcast appearance. The Prose Edda details that Hel rules over vast mansions with many servants in her underworld realm and plays a key role in the attempted resurrection of the god Baldr.
• • •
UNDER/PASS would not divide the road (here represented by the broken words/phrases) in two—it would obscure the road from view. Lack of precision was one of several reasons this thing was Off The Charts hard for a Thursday. I don't know what the newspaper version of the puzzle looked like, but all the clues for the second parts of the split phrases were just "-" in the e-version that I solved. When I've seen this convention in the past, there is some kind of continuation from a previous or adjacent clue. Not so here. Also, big problem—the revealer was one of the clues affected by the phrase division. So I had no idea, none, for a very long time. Managed to put down everything on the east side of grid *except* those little 3-letter Downs (15D, 55D), so I had no clue how things were supposed to be pieced together. HEL??? (15D: Daughter of Loki) Ugh. I mean, super-ugh. PTA was gettable (55D: Org. concerned with pupils), but NEA could've gone there too, so I left it blank and kept flailing. Stalling, more accurately. All those (So Many) threes in the middle of the grid, too—ugsome to work through. VAL? AIR? HUS? WIT???? ASL? (as clued, "?"-wise). There was just nowhere to get traction. I forget … oh, no, now I remember. I figured out the broken phrase thing with 12A: One who gets a charge out of charging? (again, like this wasn't hard enough—damn "?" clues…). I could see SHOP- and thought "SHOPpers …" then the "-OLIC" bit across the grid called out to me. SHOPA HOLIC! After that, the puzzle sped up considerably, but man that took a lot of (often unpleasant) work.
`Biggest obstacle to me, in coming up with the theme, was that I figured a "C" was somehow involved. You see the letter "C" there, right? Two of them, one top middle right, one bottom middle right. Because I didn't have HEL (again, ugh), I had -OLIC (so … COLIC?) and -RATE (so … CRATE?), but then there was -EBEN (no such thing as CEBEN). Down below, same issue. -ASS (so … Mama CASS?). -NOTE (so … C-NOTE?). But then, again, the outlier: -DOIT (CDOIT???? No). I sort of knew that "C" couldn't be involved (what were those reverse "C"s supposed to be, then?), but I couldn't shake the suspicion. Stupid "-" clues really had me thinking "adjacent." So I'm half-mad that I got stumped and half-mad at the fact that what stumped me was an inaccurate representation of the physical phenomenon in question (again, underpasses obscure—they don't divide). I like how CEE-LO showed up to taunt me later on (26D: Green formerly of "The Voice").
Hard clues. CITROËN, rough (26A: First mass-production auto company outside the U.S.). OMICRON, rough (45A: Head of Olympus?). NOMAN (!!?), super-rough. Thank god most of the 7-letter Downs in the corners were pretty easy, 'cause otherwise I'd've been staring down a pretty empty grid (although Woe Unto You if you never knew / forgot about THE GAME; yikes!) (2D: Rapper whose 2006 album "Doctor's Advocate" was #1). EMO pop is not a thing. It's just not. EMO is a thing (or was). [EMO pop] is a Tuh-errible clue. Other possible confusion: RAIL for REED (35A: Epitome of thinness); ARTY for EDGY (63A: Avant-garde); AID for RID (43D: Relieve).
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld