Mythical Greek who clew Castor / THU 11-6-14 / Product of organic decay / Hoopster Jeremy / Belated observation of 4/14/12 / Feast of unleavened bread / Airplane with propeller at back
Thursday, November 6, 2014
Constructor: Matt Ginsberg
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: PARTING of the RED / SEA — the word PARTING literally parts the (unclued) words RED and SEA. Assorted related words can be found around the grid:
- MOSES (19A: Leader of a noted 37-Across)
- EGYPT (54A: Location of the 37-Across)
- ISRAELI (11D: Beneficiary of the 37-Across, in modern times)
- PHARAOH (41D: Loser on account of the 37-Across)
A basic nitrogenous organic compound produced by bacterial putrefaction of protein.
• • •
PARTING RED SEA bit just filled itself in rather easily. I mean, I already had MOSES at that point, so putting together the answers/concept from inference wasn't tough. And that's it—the middle, literal part and then four pretty predictable related answers, with the slightly awkward cluing ("beneficiary" (?); "modern times") needed in order to make ISRAELI relevant. Not sure what subtextual message is being conveyed by aligning (via symmetry) ISRAELI statesman Abba EBAN with a YETI. Or former Egyptian president Anwar SADAT with the family UNSER. Perhaps nothing. But perhaps conspiracy theory. Fill on this one is middling to below middling, except for BEER PONG, which is fabulous, both because it's a colorful phrase, and because it ties in perfectly with the theme (Don't believe me? Check your bible … it's toward the back somewhere …)
I did not know PTOMAINE, so I needed every cross there. I also had no idea what the clue at 43A: Belated observation of 4/14/12 was going for, so when I wrote in BARGAIN (43D: Deal) and thus picked up the "B" in BERG, I had no idea why BERG was right. I get it now, but I wonder if this clue isn't trying a little too hard to be clever. The clue refers to the sinking of the Titanic. So the date in question is 1912, not 2012. "Belated observation" refers, presumably, to the fact that no one saw the BERG 'til it was too late to do anything about it. OK. Fine. But what you have to ask yourself is: what did the Titanic hit? If you answered iceBERG, and you did, then you can see at least part of what makes the payoff here somewhat underwhelming (leaving aside the fact that many solvers will have to look up the date, or won't even bother). All of which raises the question (or at least a question): are there other, non-ice BERGs? "'Look out for that dirtberg!' she cried." I don't think I've seen any other prefixes on BERG besides ice. So you'd think we'd let BERG stand alone in common parlance. And yet …
I had PADWAN (!?) for OBI-WAN for a tiny bit. Forgot about IDAS (3D: Mythical Greek who slew Castor), as I (and millions of others, no doubt) am wont to do. I always, and I mean always, spell SAO PAULO "Sao Paolo," so that happened. Went for PEEP AT before PEEPER (47D: Eye). Misspelled PESACH "Pasach" (25A: Feast of unleavened bread). So basically my mistakes were not exciting. And the puzzle itself was not that exciting. And so here we are.