Ratso's given name / SAT 9-6-14 / Predigital beeper / Profiles in Leadership publisher briefly / Completer of career grand slam 2009 / Big chain closed on Sundays / Kid lit character with long face / Stereotypical wear for the paranoid
Saturday, September 6, 2014
Constructor: James Mulhern
Relative difficulty: Medium (though not for me—I tanked it)
Word of the Day: NEOLOGIC (37D: Linguistically adventurous) —
a. 1. Of or pertaining to neology; employing new words; of the nature of, or containing, newwords or new doctrines.
A genteel neological dictionary.
• • •
CELERY … what? Salad dressings?? I don't know. ROOT? Is it ROOT? SEED didn't occur to me til very late (though when it did, it seemed obvious). So things died down there. The other road out of the NW ran toward the NE, but ROAD- … ? ROAD what? [Predigital beeper?] That clue makes no sense, in that "predigital" is meaningless, so far as I can tell. Have ROADRUNNERs not evolved fingers and toes yet, is that the idea? Or is it that they (like all other living things on the planet) predate the digital age? Misdirections usually have some meaning, however tenuous. "Predigital" here appears to be completely arbitrary and unrelated to the actual answer. I guess whoever wrote that clue thought "Hmm, the word 'digit' is in the symmetrical clue, so why not this clue too?" And now I've answered that rhetorical question. (My friend suggests that the cartoon ROADRUNNER was not digitally animated, and that that must be the context … that seems to be the only possible explanation for the clue … even though, technically, that ROADRUNNER 'meeps'…)
Once I got TEST in there, I was able, finally, to see PINKY SWEAR (easily my favorite part of the whole puzzle) (48A: Use a two-digit confirmation code?). And then the SW went down easily. This was the weird thing about how long the puzzle took me. I had these extended freefalls, where nothing was working, and then somehow the right letters would slide into place and I'd see an answer and a whole section would go up in smoke. It's just that the freefalls, esp. in the NE and SE, were so long. Tried to get NE first but … nothing. Well, actually, ORSINO and OSE and EEYORE and even a guessed-at GASSY, but still—no budging.
LOOM from LO-. Couldn't get EROS from ---S (wanted HOTS at first). ENRICO, no way. AERIE? Not from that clue. Just … stuck. And downstairs, things were also bad for a bit. Main culprit was ALA instead of QUA at 58D: As. Let me tell you, that is a super-annoying thing to have been hung up on—a stupid little answer like that. Wasn't sure whether I gave ARIP or ARAP. No idea about BSA. Put in ABUTS, but it didn't make sense with ALA. Finally had good sense to tear ALA out, and insist on ABUTS. Then guessed BSA and finally (!!!) saw PERSIST. And even though I still had roughly 1/3 of the grid still to fill in, PERSIST was the beginning of the end. Once that went in, the whole eastern side went up quickly. Thank god I was able to get MAGNUM OPUS from the back end (i.e. OPUS). Otherwise, that NE might still be half-empty.
There's nothing exceptional or praiseworthy about the grid, though there's nothing terrible either. It's ordinary (excepting PINKY SWEAR) and inoffensive. The cluing made it a bear (for me), but nothing else about it stands out. Overall, it's just OK.
A great young crossword constructor tweeted earlier tonight: "constructor of tomorrow's NYT xword has 8 fri/sat publications since the last time any woman had one." That stat is insane.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld