Ahab's father / SUN 2-8-15 / Princess of Power from 1980s cartoons / Cold-climate cryptid / Cable airer of vintage films / Givens on Wheel of Fortune / Alternatives to cheddars
Sunday, February 8, 2015
Constructor: Jeremy Newton
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: "Multifaceted" — theme answers feature two sets of circled squares, which, when combined, spell out a precious stone. Between the two sets of circled squares, running DOWN in each case, is the letter string "SET"; thus the revealer: 52D: With 59-Down, permanent … or, literally, a feature of the answers to the seven starred clues (SET IN / STONE).
- GARNER ATTENTION (22A: Get noticed) / 8D: *Biter in Niger (TSETSET)
- CRUISES BY (40A: Easily defeats, in sports) / 13D: *One making the rounds at a party, perhaps (CHEESE TRAY)
- PONY EXPRESS (47A: Enterprise for which a 14-year-old Buffalo Bill worked) / 6D: *Like puberty at age 16 (LATE ONSET)
- GAME THE SYSTEM (67A: Exploit a loophole, say) / 50D: *First spacecraft to orbit a comet (2014) (ROSETTA)
- POP A WHEELIE (85A: Lean back and enjoy the ride?) / 81D: *Chooses in the end (SETTLES ON)
- WATERGATE (96A: Washington landmark that lent its name to a Senate committee) / 73D: *Car dealership option (LEASE-TO-OWN)
- QUARTER-SIZE(d) HAIL (115A: Big fall from the sky?) / 99D: *Goals for underdogs (UPSETS)
Word of the Day: OMRI (61D: Ahab's father) —
Omri (Hebrew: עמרי, Modern Omri, Tiberian ʻOmrî; short for Hebrew: עָמְרִיָּה, Modern Omriyya, Tiberian ʻOmriyyā ; "The Lord is my life") (fl. 9th century BC) was the sixth king of Israel after Jeroboam, a successful military campaigner, and the founder of the House of Omri, an Israelite royal house which included other monarchs such as Ahab, Ahaziah, Joram, and Athaliah. Along with his predecessor king Zimri who ruled for only seven days, Omri is the first king mentioned in the Bible without stating of his tribal origin. Though some scholars speculate that Omri was from the tribe of Issachar, this is not confirmed by any biblical account.
• • •
SET isn't really IN the STONE. Or, rather, it is *is* defensibly IN the STONE in the case of PONY EXPRESS, but not in any other case. GARNE is so far away from the crossing "SET" that it barely seems like they have a relationship to each other at all. Circled squares are like fire (stay with me)—they can provide warmth and light, but if you're not careful … actually, they're much more boring than fire. My point is just that you have to use them carefully. Here, they are used just a bit too loosely. I do like some of the theme answers in their own right (esp. POP A WHEELIE and GAME THE SYSTEM), but in the end, the theme felt a little off, a little forced to me.
Also, the fill was uneven—lovely in some places (CHEESE TRAY, NERF GUN, YUMMIER) but (literally) groan-inducing in too many other places (seriously, ask my wife about the sounds I was making as I solved this at the kitchen table; they weren't healthy sounds). First set of groans came for the CBER and his XII SWISSES. Then there were the ALTI and their HAI notes. The ONE-D D-CUP and the ETAILING SPAZ. The SILENT L in NELL. The idea that MLK is a "symbol" of anything (60D: Symbol of equality, briefly). SHIER REPOs of the EEN. The epic clash between AEIOU and RSTLNE for Letter Jumble Of The Universe. I had a hard time taking much of this. NO GOOD 'UNS in my EEL POT. You know what I'm saying. Or you don't. Whichever. Good day.
P.S. If you're looking for a challenging puzzle with a little bite (and who isn't?) then consider subscribing to Matt Gaffney's Weekly Crossword Contest (weekly crossword meta-puzzles of the Highest Order). Puzzles cycle from easy to brutal and back again. Frequently the most puzzle fun I have all week. HERE IS THE SITE. Makes a great gift for that guy who does his puzzles in pen and thinks he's such hot *&$%^. Seriously, he'll love it. So will you.