Eliot's Vos Prec / SAT 10-10-15 / Highland lowland / Alternative to Ho Hos / Skylane maker / Japan's largest active volcano / Alberta city named after quadruped / 1950s runners inits / Hadean was earth's first / Oxymoronic lead-in to then /
Saturday, October 10, 2015
Constructor: Roland Huget
Relative difficulty: Medium
Word of the Day: "ARA Vos Prec" (20A: Eliot's "___ Vos Prec") —
[it appears to be an early volume of poetry by T.S. Eliot, though it's virtually impossible to tell exactly what it is via google, as it doesn't have a wikipedia page, and where it is mentioned, it's not described; the wikipedia entry for "Gerotion" describes "ARA Vos Prec" as "a limited printed work that collected his early poems," so ... yeah ... wow.]
• • •
OSAMA/SAR dumpster fire look downright lovely. There is a mild playfulness to the center of the grid, a sing-songy quality to the central crossing of OKEYDOKEY RINGDINGS, a rhyming quality to WEENIES NANNIES, an alliterative assonance in SENECA GECKOS, and near-anagramitude to STING SIGNS. It's a little bananas, but none of it (except ARA, dear lord) is painful or annoying. But the corners, the little mini-puzzles, all sequestered off in their own private idahos—yikes. The NE has icky ILA, but otherwise seems reasonably sane. The others, however, don't fare so well. They're drowning in gunk. Just chock full of the stuff. First, there's just no marquee material. Nothing truly sparkly. Second, whatever good there is in those corners is held together with cut-rate spackle, and lots of it. In the NW, all Acrosses from REDDEER down to AES, inclusive are blah (we'll just ignore EEE hiding in the corner). In the SW, we have the never-welcome ALIENEE (wide shoe spec for E.T.?) crossing yucko TER, and then the atrocity that is the ASO (?) / ROSALIE (!?!?) crossing. ASO may be one of the biggest volcanoes in the world, but it's still terrible fill. And "Twilight" vampire Hale??? Is that this puzzle's concession to modernity? Sigh. Was a little worried I'd get Naticked there, but the "O" was the only thing that made sense. Phew. But just one "phew." Because, I mean, how many PHEWS can you have?
Yeah, so, that SE corner. I wrote in NOT LIVE and immediately threw down the pencil I wasn't holding and said "No. No way. Not a thing. I'm out." Then I picked up same pencil and finished. Luckily, that corner was the last thing to fall: the PHILE PHEWS PKWY. Truly, the end of the line.
Here's the grid progression: I opened in the NE with DASANI (gimme) and ILA (ditto). That corner was pretty tractable, and I went from there into the middle of the grid, where things were choppy, but eventually came together (note the DING DONGS mistake, as well as the wrong double-letter in 31-Across):
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
P.S. DING dupe (8A, 21D)
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