Supermodel Karlie / SAT 12-27-14 / Elaborate underground complex in Lord of Rings / Sister of Cartoon Network / Quaint stage accessory / Comfortaire competitor / Popular pop-up preventer / 2001 video game set in Liberty City / Red three-year-old of tv / Economist who wrote Essay on Principle of Population 1798 / Cliched sequel catchphrase
Saturday, December 27, 2014
Constructor: David Phillips
Relative difficulty: Medium
Word of the Day: ADAK (56D: Alaskan island or its principal town) —
Adak Island (Aleut: Adaax) is an island near the western extent of the Andreanof Islands group of the Aleutian Islands in Alaska. Alaska's southernmost town, Adak, is located on the island. The island has a land area of 274.59 square miles (711.18 km2), measuring 33.9 miles (54.5 km) on length and 22 miles (35 km) on width, making it the 25th largest island in the United States.Due to harsh winds, frequent cloud cover, and cold temperatures, vegetation is mostly tundra (grasses, mosses, berries, low-lying flowering plants) at lower elevations. The highest point is Mt. Moffett, near the northwest end of the island, at an elevation of 3,924 feet (1,196 m). It is snow covered the greater part of the year. Adak, Alaska is its largest and principal city.The word Adak is from the Aleut word adaq, which means "father". (wikipedia)
• • •ADAK in 11 years, and no major puzzle outlet has touched it in 10. And you thought NDAK and SDAK were terrible. Yikes. I lead with this sub-tolerable bit of fill because it's at the heart of this puzzle's tragic flaw—a flaw I encountered only at the very end of what was to that point a very pleasurable solve. That SE corner was like … running a great race and being in sight of the finish line and then tripping over your laces, falling on your face, and being knocked unconscious. It's *so* much worse than every other part of the grid, that I have no idea why a. the constructor didn't sense that and fix that whole section, or b. the editor didn't insist upon a rewrite. It's the editor's responsibility, in the end, to get this stuff right. And ATARAXY (?) and ADAK (all the "?"s in the world) crossing a brand (?) of "pop-up preventer" that I've never heard of—that, that ain't right. If the pop-ups are being blocked, shouldn't I be AD-*UN*AWARE? Or is it ADA-WARE (made specially for dentists)? I figured -WARE was a suffix, as it so often is in internet contexts (e.g. malware, spyware, ADWARE!!!). Yeesh and yikes. In the end, I got the -DA- in ADAWARE from guess/inference. It was the best guess I had, despite the fact that ADAK in particularly looked absolutely nutso. Implausible in the extreme. But there it is. ADAK.
If the rest of the puzzle hadn't been so good, I wouldn't have cared nearly as much. It's the sore thumb quality of that quadrant that makes me mourn the Great puzzle this could have been. I mean … MALTHUS! (8A: Economist who wrote "An Essay on the Principle of Population," 1798). I was like "whoa, highbrow!" Nice contrast to the super-lowbrow MTV MOVIE AWARDS, ADULT SWIM, SKYMALL, and GRAND THEFT AUTO / III! I mean, you could see only scant evidence of grid strain before the SE corner came along. MORIA is not great. ETAIL and KLOSS (?), also kind of yuck. But otherwise, everything was pretty shiny and nice.
- 1A: Clichéd sequel catchphrase ("HE'S BACK!") — This *feels* right, but quick googling is turning up nothing specific. The phrase must be used plenty in ads for, say, Ace Venture sequels or Terminator sequels or, I don't know, Ernest sequels or Benji sequels. But the only "___ Back!" phrase that sticks in my mind is this one:
- 44A: Ascension Isl. setting (ATL.) — had the "A" and thought "probably ATL" but held off for fear it would be a time zone (AST?) or even possibly a continent (AFR.). The island, it turns out, is in the Dead Middle of the Atlantic between South America and Africa.
- 6D: Quaint stage dancing accessory (CANE) — my first thought was BOA, which is inapt on several levels.