Aladdin character who's transformed into elephant / FRI 1-6-16 / Targets of snuffers / Synagogue holding / Hit Fox drama starting in 2015 / Weekly magazine publisher since 1896 / Venomous swimmer
Friday, January 6, 2017
Constructor: Jacob Stulberg
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (the NE alone took it into "Challenging" territory for me)
Word of the Day: LEE ANN Womack (38A: Singer Womack with the 2000 hit "I Hope You Dance") —
Lee Ann Womack (born August 19, 1966) is an American country music singer and songwriter. Her 2000 single, "I Hope You Dance" was a major crossover music hit, reaching No. 1 on the Billboard Country Chart and the Top 15 of the Billboard Hot 100, becoming her signature song. // When Womack emerged as a contemporary country artist in 1997, her material resembled that of Dolly Parton and Tammy Wynette, except for the way Womack's music mixed an old fashioned style with contemporary elements. Her 2000 album I Hope You Dance had an entirely different sound, using pop music elements instead of traditional country. It wasn't until the release of There's More Where That Came From in 2005 that Womack returned to recording traditional country music. (wikipedia)
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BOWL A STRIKE was doubly terrible in that it seemed like Not the right phrase (bowlingball.com (!) uses "throw a strike"), *and* its clue was trying to do that cutesy faux-clever thing where it echoes the phrasing of a nearby (in this case, a crossing) clue (in this case, SPARE (48D: Get 10 from two?)). Also there were a handful of those how-do-you-spell-it proper nouns you often seen in crosswords—e.g. KEENEN, ODAMAE—that make solving irritating. But most of the rest of it was holding up OK. Nothing exciting, nothing terrible. And, in fact, that's pretty much how I felt about the puzzle at the end of it all. It's just that "average" puzzles are a lot less pleasant to solve when you hit a brick wall, and so solving pleasure plummeted once I hit the NW. It's not that struggle is a bad thing. It can be a very satisfying thing when the answers that fall into place make you think "Ooh, good one." And there was one of those in the NW, but too many of the others made me go "Oh ... really?" But as I said up front, in an alternate universe (such as you might find in, say, DC COMICS—that was the "good one," btw: 12D: Flash source), I would've sailed through this in half the time it took me. See if you can spot the tiny, lethal mistakes:
I did the fairly routine solving thing where you put in the terminal "S" for a plural. This is a useful habit ... sometimes. Today, the cautionary tale. With plurals, mostly "S," ... but sometimes "I" (and sometimes something totally different like "N," but more on that some other time). You can also see that yet another how-do-you-spell it name gave me trouble, as I had LEEANN's name written with a terminal "E" for some reason (38A: Singer Womack with the 2000 hit "I Hope You Dance")—that was better than my earlier guess, CEE CEE (I confused Womack with Winans. Whoops) (Also, for the record, it's CECE, not CEECEE Winans). You should also mentally add YTD to this grid at 16A: Fig. in annual reports, because I had that in there for a bit too. Sigh. Now if I had just started with CAV (18A: Quicken Loans Arena athlete, for short) and then looked at 14D: Peaceful protests, I feel very certain that the "V" alone would've given me LOVE-INS (14D: Peaceful protests), and that corner would've been much much easier. Still hard, but solving the terminal "I" thing alone at 25A would've been huge. But instead I had YTD in there and that wrong terminal "S" and so pfft.
Other clues were hard as hell. 12A: Browsing letters ... that could be lots of things (also, is DSL still a thing? I've had a cable modem forever so I have no idea). The "Fig." in "annual reports" was a CEO!? Again, hyper-vague cluing. What the hell is a "snuffer" I wondered, til the bitter end. SNUFFER is one of those horrible made-up -ER words that constructors try to foist on you from time to time, like GAGGER or DISLIKER. Without that "W," LOW-END (an adjective!?) became near-impossible. And, ugh, I had so many wrong things for 21A: "No way" man (JOSÉ). most notably ANTI (?). Without the "J," JULIAN became near-impossible (misspelling of LEEANN was also screwing things up there). And then the very fine DC COMICS clue was also hard. Phew. First thing to fall for me, into all that emptiness (besides CAV) was AEOLIAN (29A: Windblown)—I had had Coleridge's harp in my head from the second I looked at that clue, but somehow all my first thought were AER... something. This made terminal "S" problem look like a problem, and from there LOVE-INS fell. Usually, at that point, the whole corner crumbles. Not here. I inched my way, limply (and fittingly) back to LOW-END. At that point, I could remember none of the rest of the puzzle, and my time was up in the Saturday range. Oh well.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
PS in BOWL A STRIKE's ... let's say, defense ... artofmanliness.com (!!) says BOWL A STRIKE
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