Mellow R&B track / FRI 3-25-16 / Acid alcohol compound / French border region / 500-pound bird hunted to extinction / Lost tapes rapper / Echos French daily / W competitor
Friday, March 25, 2016
Constructor: Ian Livengood
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
Word of the Day: RENÉ Préval (52A: ___ Préval, twice-elected president of Haiti) —
René Garcia Préval (French pronunciation: [ʁəne pʁeval]; born January 17, 1943) is a Haitian politician and agronomist who was twice President of the Republic of Haiti. He served from February 7, 1996, to February 7, 2001, and from May 14, 2006, to May 14, 2011. He was also Prime Minister from February 1991 to October 11, 1991. Préval was the first elected head of state in Haitian history to peacefully receive power from a predecessor in office, the first elected head of state in Haitian history since independence to serve a full term in office, the first to be elected to non-successive full terms in office, and the first former Prime Minister to be elected President. His presidencies were marked by domestic tumult and attempts at economic stabilization, with his latter presidency being marred through the destruction wrought by the 2010 Haiti earthquake. (wikipedia)
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PACK (1D: Stuff). Not PACK, Ian! Seriously, though, that was a nice misdirect, and 22% of the reason that I couldn't make the NW corner work for so long there at the end. But that corner was only the last in a series of roadblocks for me. In between the roadblocks was some lovely, vibrant scenery. I do like this puzzle. I think I was just having car problems, to continue this poor metaphor. So ... OK. I started in the NW and got absolutely nowhere. A French daily I've never heard of ... probably ends "-ES"; Probably LES but not sure, could be DES (?). Wanted JUNK / KNEEL (half right!). Tore that out. Wanted, amazingly, ARAL at 3D: Water source for 11 countries (NILE). ARAL is the one that is *disappearing*, Rex. Come on! So I just abandoned ship up there, to toggle to another metaphor. And then I found a much friendly, warm, laid-back reception in the NE, in the loving embrace of SLOW JAM (7A: Mellow R&B track), the first thing I put in the grid with any certainty.
Between that and "Glengarry Glen Ross," that whole corner was Mine (11D: "Glengarry Glen Ross" co-star, 1992). But one problem coming out of there—the biggest problem I had in the whole damn puzzle—was 7D: Pink property. I kept hacking away and getting letters, but it continued to make no sense. I sensed early it could be a Monopoly property, but, funny story, I have none, and I mean zero, recollection of there being a STATES AVENUE. I mean ... none. So I eventually had AVENUE (from crosses) and STATE (from crosses) and thought "Hmm, STATE blank AVENUE, what letter goes there? "S"? STATE S AVENUE ... what is that?" If I had to name all the Monopoly properties I could, I would never name STATES AVENUE, clearly. MARVIN GARDENS, BOARDWALK, ST JAMES PLACE, VERMONT AVENUE, PACIFIC AVENUE, see, I know a lot of them. Soooo. I got slowed right down. Also couldn't remember how to spell the DHABI part of ABU DHABI (seriously, even now I typed "DAHBI"), and that was the part I *needed* to get into that perilous little SE corner (38D: Where Etihad Airways is headquartered). But ESTER / SPA / ARISEN bailed me out.
HATERADE and HASHTAG already feel like dated slang your parents know and use wrong, but I still like them, perhaps because I'm actually the parent in this scenario. I tore up that SW corner (GARETH is a close personal friend of mine), and went right up to the NW corner, where I nearly died. That clue on 1A: Far and away one's favorite writer? is both ingenious and unfair. The "favorite" part really adds unnecessary and irrelevant information that even the "?" doesn't fully redeem. The "Far and away" part is perfect. Same with "writer." But "favorite"? Thought for sure it would be an actual writer's name. A writer who might be someone's actual favorite. A specific writer, anyway. Vague clue on EVEN (2D: Flush) and (as with PENPAL) general category of answer (rather than specific answer) for 5D: Snorkeling mecca (ATOLL) added to my woes. I think AVIATE eventually saved me (14A: Fly). Don't remember.
There's some great, great clues in here, including
- 17A: Slice from a book? (PAPER CUT)
- 12D: Chill in bed? (AGUE)
- 26D: Statements for the record (LINER NOTES)
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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