Miss Hungary of 1936 familiarly / SAT 5-28-16 / 1960s sitcom matriarch / Sights at Supercharger / Sound effect in comic BC / French frozen desserts / 1999 parody featuring starship Protector / Title brat of kid-lit
Saturday, May 28, 2016
Constructor: Frederick J. Healy
Relative difficulty: Easy
Word of the Day: ATTELET (20A: Decorative skewer for serving hors d'oeuvres) —
n. 1. (Cooking) a type of skewer with an ornamental handle which is used for holding foods for presentation at the table, but not while cooking. (thefreedictionary)
• • •
Constructing software (armed with a sizeable wordlist) can help constructors do really nice things, like running stacked 11s through stacked 11s (as in the center part of this grid). It can also convince you that putting stuff like SUL and THEICE and ATTELET in your puzzle is a good idea. Google didn't even believe me when I told it [define attelet]
ATTELET notwithstanding) are hardly flagrant. So, YIPPEE, I guess.
I tore this thing up thanks to some very helpful letters in very helpful positions. Let's start with the letter "Z"—two of them, actually. First answer into the grid was ZSA ZSA (1D: Miss Hungary of 1936, familiarly). Why did I know that? Dunno. Just did. And I didn't "know" it. It just felt right. And right away—two "Z"s. Two high-value letters. I knew ZOT was right, and after trying A LIFE for 27A: "Get ___!" (A GRIP), I put in PATHS and thus got a grip on the NW corner. Done, and fast. PETE (or, to be precise, PE_E...) was there before I ever saw the clue at 14D: He said "You kind of live and die by the serve" (eloquent!), so no problem there. The most important answer for me in the top half, though, was SELIG (25A: Manfred succeeded him as baseball commissioner). Not only was it a gimme, but it gave me a terminal "G" at 7D: "Morning Mood" composer. I wrote in GRIEG reflexively, and that gave me all the first letters of the Acrosses in the NE. One letter in one easy answer opened an entire section of the puzzle right up.
[So ... "Peer Gynt" composer, really, then ...]
GALAXY QUEST" (31A: 1999 parody featuring the starship Protector) was a flat-out, no-crosses-needed gimme, and... look at that: an "X" *and* a "Q"! The whole puzzle just flowered out from there. I did have awful trouble, however, with DELUXE MODEL (17D: Provider of more bells and whistles). Got the DELUXE part OK, but the second part ... less easy. Eventually, with DELUXE MO-EL in place, I went with [drum roll] DELUXE MOTEL! Then I went with EATST at 43A: "___ thou no poison mix'd ...?": "Romeo and Juliet" (HADST). Threw that awesome wrong answer out pretty quick, but only at the very end, after starting to run the alphabet at -OPED / -ATST, did I see it was actually HOPED / HADST. The "D" there was my last letter.
- IN STIR (18A: Doing time) — I have a vast reservoir of olde-timey expressions no one uses any more, like ... lots of synonyms for "money" and "jail." Speaking of olde-timey expressions: NATTY (38A: Spruced up). Got it off the "N."
- HAN SOLO (35D: [Spoiler alert!] He dies in "The Force Awakens") — cute clue, but Monday-easy.
- AS TO (48D: Repeated words in a multiple-count verdict) — can't say I like ASTO as fill, but I admire this highly original clue.
- STRIPE (12D: IBM logo feature) — that is the weirdest, randomest STRIPE clue ever. I can see the logo in my mind's eye, vaguely, but of all the STRIPE-y things in the universe ... blah. Pretty blah.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]