Comedian Paul / SAT 9-13-14 / Montreal eco-tourist attraction / Source of conflict in antiquity / Italian after-dinner drink / Anchors of some malls / Classic storyteller who wrote under pseudonym Knickerbocker
Saturday, September 13, 2014
Constructor: Josh Knapp
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
Word of the Day: Paul MOONEY (41D: Comedian Paul) —
Paul Gladney (born August 4, 1941), better known by the stage name Paul Mooney, is an American comedian, writer, social critic, television and film actor. He is best known for his appearances on Chappelle's Show and as a writer for the comedian Richard Pryor. (wikipedia)
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TWO AM, and then got "DOWN HERE!" off that "W" and the final "E" (from DEC., the only flat-out obvious answer up there). Things came together from there. After getting SINE, I had first two letters of all those Downs in the middle, and that was enough to get all of them reasonably quickly. Lucked into the NE corner by guessing IN BETA from the terminal "A," then getting ITEM and TEXT ME. With the exception of a SET-for-LOT error (8D: Universal area), nothing up there was too tough. CPL and ORE were, in fact, gimmes (no such gimmes in the grid's SW counterpart). LEMONGRASS was a piece of cake, and with GRAPPA and GRIMM going in very easily, it didn't take long to bring down that SE section either. That just left the SW…
Ugh. The SW corner left me feeling more exasperated than satisfied. More my bad luck than anything the puzzle did wrong, though I wonder if this corner wasn't markedly harder on some objective level. That is, I have no way of knowing if this corner is consistent with the difficulty of the rest of the grid (in which case my stumbling was an idiosyncratic glitch) or if the corner really is clued in a way that radically separates it from the rest of the grid, difficulty-wise. First problem, for me, was 40A: "Gotcha," in old lingo (I'M HIP). Just had the -P, and could come up with nothing. This was due to not understanding At All that "Gotcha" meant "I understand you." All I understood from "Gotcha" was "I tricked you," "I nailed you," "I nabbed you," etc. Maybe those all have exclamation points, i.e. "Gotcha!"? I don't know. But (horrible, trite, overused, wish it would go die) I'M HIP never Ever occurred to me. I probably should've gotten CINEMAS, but I've only ever heard of retail stores being mall "anchors," so CINEMAS was nowhere on my radar. Wanted REISER for the [Comedian Paul]. MOONEY was rough. When I googled him (after I finished), I recognized him (from "Chapelle's Show"), but I sure didn't know his name. Never considered the "long race" was an election (TUE). Good clue, but trickiness there just hyper-brutalized an already brutal corner.
Never considered that the "bridge" at 58A: Something on either side of a bridge was anything but a … well, a bridge. You know, with cars and stuff (had CROSSSPAN there at one point … is that a thing?). [Kind] was too vague for me. [Fair] was too vague for me. Thought [P.E.I. setting] was CAN or ATL. LYRIC, no hope … not for a while, anyway (46D: Words that are rarely spoken). If I think of that word, it's usually in the plural. Despite considering NOUN and AOK at various points, the only way I finally cracked that SW corner was by forcefully, somewhat desperately putting down TENACIOUS for 56A: Like bulldogs. That worked with AOK and made me try out LOCO at 49D: Unscrewed (instead of BATS or NUTS, which had been in there before). Then that "K" from AOK really looked like it needed a "C" in front of it … and bam went LYRIC. Then it was all over but the shouting. But I didn't really care. End result: hard, competent, forgettable. No terrible parts, no sparkle, no charm. CHEESEBALL, LEMONGRASS, and "DOWN HERE!" are winners. I wish there were more. Clues were better than fill today—special commendation for [Chase scene producer, for short]. An SNL clue that's not only new, but clever? Much appreciated.
Another weekend, another two themelesses by men. The gender divide is widest where themelesses are concerned. Cannot remember the last time I saw a female constructor's byline on one. I miss Karen Tracey, is what I'm saying. I just googled [Karen Tracey Rex Parker] and THIS is the first hit that came up. Just read that first paragraph—that's some effusive praise from young Rex Parker. Come back, Karen Tracey!
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld