Reese's field / FRI 3-20-15 / Mayberry moppet / Songwriter Carol Bayer / When repeated Thor Heyerdahl book / Title locale in 1987 Cheech Marin film / Staple of Hindustani music / Spaghetti western persona / Who wrote to Ptolemy I There is no royal road to geometry
Friday, March 20, 2015
Constructor: Roland Huget
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
Word of the Day: "AKU AKU" (32D: When repeated, Thor Heyerdahl book) —
Aku-Aku: the Secret of Easter Island is a 1958 book by Thor Heyerdahl. The book describes the 1955-56 Norwegian Archaeological Expedition's investigations of Polynesian history and culture at Easter Island, the Austral Islands of Rapa Iti and Raivavae, and the Marquesas Islands of Nuku Hiva and Hiva Oa. Visits to Pitcairn Island, Mangareva and Tahiti are described as well. By far the greatest part of the book tells of the work on Easter Island, where the expedition investigated the giant stone statues (moai), the quarries at Rano Raraku and Puna Pau, the ceremonial village of Orongo on Rano Kau, as well as many other sites throughout the island. Much of the book's interest derives from the interaction of the expedition staff, from their base at Anakena beach, with the Easter Islanders themselves, who lived mainly in the village of Hanga Roa. (wikipedia)
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EBBETS Field. Demolished 1960. There's a pattern, or rather a center of gravity, and it is way, way back. I'm a big fan of mid-century aesthetics of various kinds. Jazz. Art. Interior design. I have 3000+ paperbacks from 1940-69 sitting just to my left here in my home office. So retro is, in theory, peachy. But this puzzle isn't retro. It's just old. Tired. Pleasant. Inoffensive. Like an uncle you think is OK. You know, you don't hate him. He's nice. Remembers your birthday. But you don't really *get* him, and he has a corny sense of humor and won't shut up about how great Johnny Unitas was. (Actually, I think I'm literally talking about Abe Simpson now, but anyway …). This is the puzzle equivalent of nostalgia. That one rap clue isn't fooling anyone. Even Lionel Richie looks too hip for this room. And even leaving age and time period aside, none of these answer has any snap crackle or pop. They are fine (at last in the center—the corners feel like half-baked afterthoughts). They get the job done. No one is going to complain about this thing. It's inoffensive in the extreme. But your SMARTYPANTS GRAND NEPHEW called and he wants his 2015 puzzle back. Please.
Hard to explain the sagging feeling I get when I fill in SENNA and LEYDEN and ARIAS and SAGER and OPIE and NIENTE and OILSEED and EASTLA and EENSY and RICER and AREEL. I pick all those because they aren't exactly bad (well, AREEL is close) … they're just, in the aggregate, indicative of the kind creaky, dated puzzle I can tell I'm gonna be dealing with. SEALER … LINEAL … lots of common letters, and the best you can say about those answers is "Fine. Sure. OK." The puzzle's highlight is clearly meant to be the mash-up of longer fill at the center of the puzzle, and yes, it's all relatively clean in there, and that deserves some praise. But the fill is all so whitebread. So Ward Cleaver. It's wearing its mid-century frame-of-reference on its sleeve, which would be OK if the answers from that period had some zip and zing. But no. This thing is all cardigan sweater.
A pediatrician acquaintance of mine says I can quote her re: the TEATS clue (6D: Nature's pacifiers?), so I will: "It's not an incorrect statement, but it's weird." This was in response to my saying I found it disturbing, first, because I couldn't tell if the frame of reference was human or barnyard animal (if the former, no one calls them TEATS for god's sake, and if the latter, that is some creepy/odd anthropomorphism you've got going on there). I know the phrase "fruit is nature's candy," but that means it's "candy" FOR HUMANS. TEATS are not for humans. They are for piglets. Unless, again, you are referring to human female breasts as TEATS, in which case, yikes. Clue on SNAIL is just stupid (25A: Appetizer served with a two-pronged fork). It's called "escargot" when you eat it in a restaurant. Everyone knows that. Cluing SNAIL as "Appetizer" is like cluing COW as "Sandwich meat." Trust me, if the restaurant bothers to provide you with the "two-pronged fork," it—is—escargot. Not SNAIL. When did you people start calling "dinosaurs" "DINOs"? This feels like a post-"Jurassic Park" thing. I don't believe anyone actually calls them this. It's some kind of ploy to infantilize us all. I say, resist. See you tomorrow.