Italian brewer since 1846 / SAT 3-1-14 / Ghanaian region known for gold cocoa / 1987 #1 hit with line Yo no soy marinero / Carrier with pink logo
Saturday, March 1, 2014
Constructor: Ian Livengood and J.A.S.A. Crossword Class
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
Word of the Day: ASHANTI Region (10D: Ghanaian region known for gold and cocoa) —
The Ashanti Region is located in south Ghana and third largest of 10 administrative regions, occupying a total land surface of 24,389 km2 (9,417 sq mi) or 10.2 per cent of the total land area of Ghana. In terms of population, however, it is the most populated region with a population of 3,612,950 in 2000, accounting for 19.1 per cent of Ghana’s total population. The Ashanti region and Asanteman is known for its major gold bar and cocoa production and also harbors the capital city of Kumasi. (wikipedia)
KTHXBYE get through (18A: Curt chat closing). It's a jokey texting sign-off that looks nuts on the grid. Nuts good. Good nuts. I think it's often spelled KTHXBAI—that spelling certainly googles better. Speaking of Google: GOOGLE GLASS is also a nice modern reference, although … I have yet to see anyone wearing them (it? It, I guess). I mean, in real life. And yet I've been hearing about it for so long now that it already feels a bit like yesterday's news. See also BitCoin, which I'm sure will be in the puzzle Any Day Now (esp. with the recent fraud problems putting the "currency" in the spotlight). But BITCOIN isn't in this puzzle. GOOGLE GLASS is (42A: Modern device seen on a bridge). And despite its looking stupid (in its currently incarnation), some version of it is likely here to stay (not so sure about BITCOIN … or why I keep talking about BITCOIN).
Never heard of PERONI, so that area of the puzzle was probably the toughest for me. PERONI makes a beer called Nastro Azzurro, which (per wikipedia) was the 13th best-selling beer in the UK in 2010. So if that's ever in a trivia contest, boom, you're set. BATE is a funny word (3D: Moderate). Needs a terminal S to be a name, needs an initial A to be a "real" verb. I've never heard anyone use BATE in ordinary conversation. I had BAT- and still had no idea what the answer was til I ran the alphabet. Cluing generally seemed vibrant and interesting—a nice mix of tough and easy, trivia-based and wordplay-based. Nice question-markers on SUPEREGO (28A: One's own worst critic?) and PAJAMAS (59A: Sack dress?). Really enjoyable work. 72 words is the max for a themeless. High-word-count themelesses have a huge upside. Room for really interesting longer answers, but not soooo much room that you end up torturing the fill to make everything hold together. Long live the high-word-count themeless.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
P.S. SOY is in the grid and also in the "LA BAMBA" clue (1A: 1987 #1 hit with the line "Yo no soy marinero, so capitán"). You're probably only noticing it now–now that I've mentioned it—so it probably doesn't matter.