Give up out of frustration in slang / SAT 4-23-16 / Pericles domain in Shakespeare / Panama paper revelation / Tomb Raider weaponry / Chocolaty treats introduced in 1932 / Intl org that was first to land probe on comet 2014 / Acronym in 1990s news
Saturday, April 23, 2016
Constructor: Paolo Pasco
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (really really easy for me, but I think I lucked into some stuff...)
Word of the Day: ESA (47A: Intl. org. that was the first to land a probe on a comet (2014)) —
The European Space Agency (ESA) is an intergovernmental organisation dedicated to the exploration of space, with 22 member states. Established in 1975 and headquartered in Paris, France, ESA has a worldwide staff of about 2,000 and an annual budget of about €5.25 billion / US$5.77 billion (2016). (wikipedia)
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RAGEQUIT was a gimme (1A: Give up out of frustration, in slang). Couldn't get the "Q" cross straight away, but I got EDD and UNWED, so I knew it was right. That jump-started the whole solving experience. For the second day in a row, my time was ridiculously low. I wasn't even speed-solving (I rarely go flat out on Fri or Sat) and I almost broke 7. That's absurd. I broke 5 yesterday (even more absurd). This feels anomalous, as I struggled with both today's Newsday and today's LAT, so ... (OH) I DUNNO what's going on. Paolo Pasco is very very young. 15 or 16, I think. You can't really tell that from this puzzle, though RAGEQUIT does skew a bit young (it's a gaming expression). BROMANCE once felt newish, but now feels quite established (64A: Relationship in many a Seth Rogen film). TUMBLR's been around a while (18A: Blogging site owned by Yahoo). In short, we have a puzzle made by a young person that does not fell young, but that also does not feel tired, old, and dated. It's kind of in the Goldilocks Zone for the NYT. Just right. As with yesterday's puzzle, there's a little bit of cruddy short stuff, but not such that it interferes much with solving pleasure. ESA probably interfered the most, as I've never heard of it. Had no idea what it referred to. Took me several googles to track it down because [Define ESA] doesn't turn it up at all (lots of Spanish-related hits, unsurprisingly). So ESA shmESA SMERSHa. But anything else I might ding is just as small and far more innocuous. Longer stuff isn't mind-blowing, but it's quite solid.
This puzzle seems like it might turn on proper nouns. For me, the following were All gimmes: "LA BAMBA," Hermann HESSE, Portia de ROSSI, Jason SEGEL, and Edward SOREL (though I wasn't *quite* sure about the spelling on that last one). Oh, and despite never really having watched "Seinfeld," I knew ELAINE off just the "N" (65A: Sitcom character whose dancing is described as "a full-body dry heave")—her "I" gave me RABBI (48D: Black hat wearer) and helped me close out the puzzle, which was threatening (there at the end) to not cooperate. Anyway, if the above names or a good chunk of them are beyond you, you might've had slowness issues. I didn't know MARCO Island, Fla. at all, and as far as characters from "A Series of Unfortunate Events" go, I know only OLAF, so ESME took a little work. But nothing else puzzled me. I even somehow knew Pericles was from TYRE, with no help (Happy Shakespeare's birthday, btw) (yes, it's his death day, but by convention, it's also his birthday). Like I said, I got lucky today. I was in the PascoZone.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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