1990s TV cartoon produced by Steven Spielberg / SAT 3-14-15 / Diamond Trucks bygone company / Subject of Hoyle treatise / Text interpreting technology used with PDFs / Online heads-up / Hip-hop's Kendrick / Art of sly wit
Saturday, March 14, 2015
Constructor: James Mulhern
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
Word of the Day: SHAMWOW (35A: Infomercial product said to hold 12 times its weight in liquid) —
- (trademark) A brand of absorbent cloth [quotations ▲]
- 2009, John C Bieber, Angels
- You might as well buy a couple of ShamWows and least you get your money's worth.
- 2010, Scott Adams, Dilbert comic strip "Use this Shamwow to absorb someone else's soul while you suck on the other end" 
- 2009, G. B. Trudeau My Shorts R Bunching. Thoughts?: The Tweets of Roland Hedley - Page 25 "From now on, will soak up her briefings like Shamwow"
- 2008, Jeff Zahratka, Sweepers Sweepers Man Your Brooms: An Enlisted Man's Story - Page 167 'He had sincere ambition, and he would soak up information like a "ShamWOW" sponge.' (wiktionary)
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MONEY TALKS, and this puzzle is money. It's definitely heavy on the pop culture (singers, movies, commercial products, whatever the BAHA MEN are, etc.), but it wasn't terribly obscure. In fact, I'd guess "ANIMANIACS" is the only proper noun that was legitimately obscure to a good chunk of the NYT solving set (15A: 1990s TV cartoon produced by Steven Spielberg). But it's not obscure. I've seen articles on it in my social media timeline recently, and I'm not sure why. Let me check. Hmmm, looks like Denver Comic Con will be hosting an "ANIMANIACS" celebration with the original cast in May. Maybe that's what I saw. Anyway, that show ran '93-'98, so if you were a grown person by then, you might've missed it. I was an only-partially grown 20-something, so I knew it. In fact, it was part of my opening gambit, which was super-strange: I can't remember ever opening a Saturday by getting two long, adjacent answers, one after the other, with no help from crosses. And yet … this:
I was really disappointed in the TAYLOR SWIFT clue (5D: Singer/songwriter whose name anagrams to ART OF SLY WIT), in that there are infinite ways to clue her and you go with an inapt anagram? Anagram? She's the most famous pop singer in the world right now and you think we need an *anagram* to help us out? Bah. Also probably wouldn't've crossed EATEN (ALIVE) and ATE (IT) if I could've helped it (ditto WOODSMAN and BAHA MEN), but that seems a pretty minor issue. I liked seeing FIST because it reminded me of the Loretta Lynn song "FIST City" (which features prominently in the movie "Coal Miner's Daughter," which I watched earlier this evening).
Didn't run into many snags today. Had HUNTSMAN and GAMESMAN (!?) before WOODSMAN (14D: Savior of Little Red Riding Hood), and that NE corner (consequently) was the toughest of the lot for me (still not tough). Favorite corner was probably the SW, with its WHAC-A-MOLE and HARRUMPHS. I had weirdly joked earlier this week about "whackamole" (sp.) being a word for bad guacamole, and then bam, I run straight into the dang thing. I told you this puzzle and I were on the same wavelength. The one thing I did not understand, though, was the clue on OMAN (23A: It's found on the toe of a boot). It was only after I was done, and after I'd searched [define oman shoes] that I realized "Oh … it's the Arabian Peninsula that's the 'boot.' I thought only Italy got to be the 'boot'? Oh well, live and learn (about boots)."