Friday, October 3, 2008

Friday, October 3, 2008

Title: Weekend Warrior
Author: Karen M. Tracey
Theme: None

Wow, this puzzle was nasty. If I had been faced with this at an ACPT, I would not have finished it. As it is, there was some guessing involved. On the scale of "nice Karen" to "evil Karen", this one was definitely skewed toward the latter.

Things I've never heard of:
    Hey! You changed the section title! Well, yes, I did; and that's not all. The Sun puzzle is changing to subscription only, and I've decided it's time to make a few changes around here, too. Mostly to make my life easier. You see, not all puzzle discussions fit neatly into those predefined categories. So, I'm going to loosen things up. You may also notice I've dropped the "new york sun" and "crosswords" tags from each puzzle. I've decided it just adds clutter, and I'm not convinced it provides any benefit, especially now that we're established in the search engines. Finally, and most significantly, I'm not going to continue to try to do this all by myself. I'm in the process of lining up a couple of co-bloggers to take share the load (details to come). This will have the dual benefit of providing different perspectives throughout the week, and maintaining what sanity I still cling to. I strongly encourage everyone to subscribe to the Sun puzzles -- if there are not over 2000 subscribers by January, the puzzle will likely die. It's only 10 cents a puzzle, which is a ridiculous bargain for the quality and freshness you receive, plus it's an extra outlet for many of the same great constructors you see at the Times. It would be a shame to see it go under. Okay, where were we...ah yes, things I've never heard of...

  • 1a: Fancy indoor headpiece for a woman (MOBCAP). This is not a common word, as far I can tell (it only gets around 15,000 Google hits), but I've certainly seen one, so it's educational.

  • 16a: Aztec god of the sun and war (HUITZILOPOCHTLI). I'm sorry, it seems someone sat on the keyboard while constructing this puzzle. This is the kind of clue that verges on ridiculously unfair, since it is not only obscure but also virtually impossible to deduce at any point in the seemingly-random string of letters. Seriously, you could remove any letter from that monstrousity and it would be a total guess what the letter was. So, the crossings had better be supremely fair then, right? Well, you be the judge.

  • 36a: Khrushchev's successor (KOSYGIN). I feel like I'm supposed to know this, but I don't. This created a guess-the-letter at the 'K' crossing with IKURA (33d: Salmon roe, at a sushi restaurant).

  • 5d: WWII beachhead (ANZIO). I guessed correctly on this one, so perhaps I've seen it before.

  • 14d: Chicago company (JOFFREY BALLET). The 'O' was a total guess-the-vowel for me. I guessed E.

Cool stuff:

  • 7a: Relative of Wednesday (FESTER). "The Addams Family".

  • 13a: Green borders (APRONS). The apron is the area around a golf green that is mown shorter than the fairway, but not as short as the putting surface.

  • 14a: Energy drink from Wet Planet Beverages (JOLT COLA). "All the sugar and twice the caffeine". Well, not so much any more. Now, it's high fructose corn syrup.

  • 18a: Literally, "first generation" (ISSEI). Standard crossword fare.

  • 21a: Jamb spot (DOOR FRAME).

  • 24a: Oxo rival (EKCO).

  • 27a: Old Dodge model (DART). I had a friend with a Dart; they just ran forever.

  • 32a: "Goodness gracious!" (DEARIE ME).

  • 41a: Low wind (BASS OBOE).

  • 43a: Scottish chemist who invented the vacuum flask (DEWAR). Not the Scotch distiller, apparently.

  • 46a: Friend of Dumb Donald (FAT ALBERT). "Hey, hey, hey!"

  • 57a: Joseph Ratzinger, today (POPE BENEDICT XVI).

  • 61a: "Saturday Night Live" alum Kevin (NEALON).

  • 1d: When doubled, a tropical fish (MAHI).

  • 2d: Penguin of the comics (OPUS).

  • 3d: Rite performed on the eighth day of life (BRIS). Ouch.

  • 4d: Department in France's Bourgogne region (COTE D'OR). This one's fair, but nasty. I didn't parse it correctly until it was completely filled. _O_EDOR was not clicking at all.

  • 6d: Penultimate of a group of 24 (PSI). Greek alphabet. Learn it.

  • 9d: Bagel topper (SCHMEAR).

  • 10d: Self-titled debut album of 1978 (TOTO).

  • 11d: Salmon tail? (ELLA). Ick.

  • 15d: Illusory works (OP ART).

  • 17d: Onetime Coliseum team, briefly (L.A. RAMS). I briefly considered DA RAMS. You know, rivals of "Da Bears"?

  • 25d: New Hampshire city (KEENE). I live in New Hampshire. We only have thirteen cities, and only two have five letters: KEENE and DOVER.

  • 26d: Reba McEntire's music genre, briefly (C AND W). I wasn't fooled here at all.

  • 31d: Early number? (ETHER). Nor here. Numb-er is one of my favorite twisty clue words.

  • 34d: Strip on which fencers compete (PISTE). Puzzle knowledge.

  • 42d: Abuse, as a welcome (OUTSTAY).

  • 44d: Much care (PAINS). As in, taking pains to do something.

  • 47d: Oldish youngster (TWEEN).

  • 48d: Child's gadget (RICER). Julia Child.

  • 55d: Engine driver in a Who song (IVOR). This is old Who, from the song "A Quick One, While He's Away". IVOR did not ring a bell at all, but it had to be right. If you just want to hear the reference, skip ahead to around 2:50 in the following clip.

I'm not at all opposed to difficult puzzles, but I like some payoff in the long fill. This puzzle didn't deliver that for me. HUIATZHASRXFHCHTAPOILI was painful, POPE BENEDICT XVI was dull, and JOFFREY BALLET was okay, but had a guess-the-vowel situation in it that was impossible to deduce if you didn't know the answer. Even KOSYGIN, in the center, felt like it was supposed to be a "marquee" fill, but I didn't care for it. Now to be fair, there was some great stuff in here. JOLT COLA, FAT ALBERT, ummm... hunh. I guess that's about it. BASS OBOE and SCHMEAR were okay, too.

Not my favorite KMT, by a long stretch.

Thanks for listening.

- Pete M.


Joon said...

well, i loved it, but i'm hardly surprised that not everybody did. i'm a mythology buff, and HUITZILOPOCHTLI is one of the greatest combination of letters ever assembled, so i was never going to forget it once i learned it. did you know that it means "left-handed hummingbird"? well, now you do.

avgotts said...

I knew what HUITZILPOPCHTLI was going to be immediately, but couldn't spell it at all (I did put in the first few and last few letters, and ended up looking up the spelling eventually).

I'd heard of Keene, but couldn't place it on a map (I'm in Hanover for the next while). I don't know NH geography at all.

Jim in NYC said...

Couldn't agree more on the Mobcap and the Aztec god. Those entries really needed more gettable crossings.

I had Anzio, Kosygin, and Joffrey easily, but the pop characters Opus, Fester and Toto are just ... dribble. When those appeared on Earth, I was looking the other way.

The new Sun situation's still a bit confusing. I don't see where to sign up. and the week beginning October 6 seems to be available for free. Any information would be appreciated.

Today's the MS Bike Tour in New York and I've a long ride ahead of me. Hope you all get outside too.


Pete M said...

The week of October 6th will continue to be free. Subscriptions will start on October 13th. There will be a PayPal/Credit Card link; I'm assuming it will be operational sometime this week (it would pretty much have to be). I'll post here when I know, but keep an eye on -- they'll probably be the first to know.

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