Italian city near Slovenian border / SAT 2-21-15 / Allegorical painting from Picasso's Blue Period / Animated character who's five apples tall / Truth in engineering sloganeer / Former Miss America who ran for US Senate in 1980 / New Year's Eve ball-drop commentator / Ark finder familiarly / Widen as gun barrel / Power has to be insecure to be responsive
Saturday, February 21, 2015
Constructor: Doug Peterson and Brad Wilber
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
Word of the Day: UDINE (46D: Italian city near the Slovenian border) —
Udine […] Friulian: Udin, Slovene: Videm, German: Weiden, Latin: Utinum) is a city and comune in northeastern Italy, in the middle of the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region, between the Adriatic Sea and the Alps (Alpi Carniche), less than 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the Slovenianborder. Its population was 100,514 in 2012, and that of its urban area was 176,000. (wikipedia)
• • •
KAREL, 58A: Reisz who directed "The French Lieutenant's Woman") or were clued in a way that made no real sense even after the answer became clear (see HELLO KITTY, 39A: Animated character who's five apples tall). In this group I'd also throw Anastasia STEELE, Jule STYNE, Carson DALY, and "I'M TOO SEXY" and Bess MYERSON—that "Y" was the last thing into the grid, despite the fact that Ms. MYERSON (21D: Former Miss America who ran for the U.S. Senate in 1980) died recently and I'd read the obit and everything… her name just did not come to me at all. And that clue for SYN! (24A: Loads, for many: Abbr.) Great, great stuff; saved me from being annoyed at not having remembered MYERSON. I don't include INDY or RALPH NADER or ROSA PARKS in the list of trivia answers because there's at least some misdirection / cleverness w/ the INDY clue, and the RALPH NADER clue gives us a quote from which we can infer the answer (I actually got it off just the -PH-), and the ROSA PARKS clue was the closest thing to a flat-out gimme this puzzle had (31D: She wouldn't take an affront sitting down).
The RHOMB / KAREL / STYNE stack made me frown a bit. But I realize now I'm most just annoyed at KAREL. Which is a name. One might have. The name-on-name action there is mildly annoying. But it's holding all the beautiful Downs in place, and all crosses are more than fair. Less pretty, I thought, was the UDINE section. Well, just UDINE. I mean, an UDINE-free puzzle would've made me very happy. U-DINE sounds like some latter day automat. That city is not big enough to be puzzle-worthy. It's "urban area" is half as populous as my "urban area," and if you could see my "urban area," you'd see how nuts it is that something that small and noteworthy primarily for its Slovenia-adjacentness is allowed to be in the grid. Throw in the fact that I wanted HYPERLINK—not HYPERTEXT (61A: It connects two pages)—and then LESE and SCH and DALY/DALE, and that SE corner made me something less than happy.
Tough start in the NW because back ends of Acrosses were easy, but they were no help with the front ends. Eventually figured out it was LATE TEENS for Nancy Drew, and that + CIA got me CLOCK, and I came out of there semi-triumphant:
Since I was blocked at the SYN / MYERSON intersection, I was worried I wasn't going to get into the NE very easily, as I'd have to come at it from underneath. But I guessed OGRE (34A: Brute) and SICS (30A: Unleashes (on)) and that was really all it took. I went from this: