Friday, August 29, 2008

Friday, August 29, 2009

Title: Four Corners
Author: Peter A. Collins
Theme: The four corner letters are used in four distinct clockwise sequences, one starting with each letter, to "clue" the four theme entries, as follows:
  • 20a: The corner squares, clockwise from the upper left => ONAN => LEAH'S GRANDSON.

  • 28a: The corner squares, clockwise from the upper right => NANO => METRIC PREFIX.

  • 45a: The corner squares, clockwise from the lower right => ANON => IN A SHORT TIME.

  • 56a: The corner squares, clockwise from the lower left => NONA => SINGER HENDRYX.

This is a very clever theme, conceptually, and is quite well-executed. Even if you don't know Nona Hendryx (and I don't, though I feel like I've seen the name in a puzzle before) or the biblical Onan (which was slightly more-vaguely familiar), the middle two theme clues were enough to suss out the appropriate letters. I'm not sure what kind of a biblical scholar you need to be to know that Onan was Leah's grandson (I guessed Levi's from the L), but it's eventually untangle-able via the crossings. That's not to say it wasn't hard, because it was. But we expect that from a Friday, so it was right where it belonged. I'm not sure why the corner squares needed to be circled (at least in the AcrossLite version), as there didn't seem to be any ambiguity about the clues, but I guess they felt better safe than sorry.

Sunny Spots:
  • 1a: Secret target (ODOR). This one fooled me, and provided a true "Aha" moment when the dime finally dropped. The reference, of course, being to Secret deodorant -- "strong enough for a man, but made for a woman".

  • 37a: Bald pitcher? (MR CLEAN). Phenomenal clue.

  • 43a: Intergalactic bridge worker (SULU). Great clue and reference to the original "Star Trek".

  • 34d: Supersize house? (MCMANSION). Very nice.

  • 5a: Follower of "seven potato" (MORE). One potato, two potato, three potato, four. Five potato, six potato, seven potato, more.

  • 9a: Great depression (BASIN). Good clue.

  • 14a: City mentioned in "Folsom Prison Blues" (RENO). From the man in black.

  • 15a: Overleap (OMIT). Wasn't familiar with overleap as a word, but it makes sense.

  • 17a: Left speechless (AWED). This was the root of my troubles in the NW, as I confidently put in AGOG.

  • 18a: Deuce, for instance (OATH). What the deuce? I'm not familiar with using this as an oath, but apparently it's like "devil" or "dickens".

  • 19a: Champ (GNASH). As in champ at the bit.

  • 23a: Club rule (BYLAW).

  • 35a: "Giant" star (James DEAN).

  • 36a: Mary Quant creation (MINI).

  • 39a: Capitol output (RECORDS). I own enough vinyl that this one didn't fool me.

  • 42a: Tank (BOMB). Interesting that two such military nouns mean to fail when turned into a verb. Perhaps there's a lesson in here somewhere.

  • 50a: Power base? (TEN). Easy for a math geek.

  • 60a: Linesman's call (ICING). A hockey linesman, that is.

  • 65a: Comic strip boy surnamed Tuttle (ELMO). From "Blondie"./

  • 67a: Montana, in the '80s ('NINER). Joe Montana, of the 49ers.

  • 69a: Fictional Newfoundland (NANA). I'm assuming this is the dog from "Peter Pan". I never realized it was a Newfy.

  • 1d: Brand of gum stimulator (ORAL B).

  • 3d: "Barry Lyndon" star (Ryan O'NEAL). I own the entire Stanley Kubrick collection on DVD. This one is very long and not one of my favorites, but still a decent flick. I prefer "Lolita" and "A Clockwork Orange".

  • 4d: Clinton, once (RODHAM). This should have been a gimme, but AGOG instead of AWED threw me for a big loop.

  • 5d: It can be heard in Emerson, Lake & Palmer's "Lucky Man" (MOOG). Hear it here if you've forgotten the song.

  • 6d: "A Jug of Wine ..." poet (OMAR). Okay, two issues here. First, what tells us we're looking for Omar Khayyam's first name? Secondly, Khayyam wrote "The Rubaiyat" in Persian, so the translation referenced in this clue
    A Book of Verses underneath the Bough,
    A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread--and Thou
    Beside me singing in the Wilderness--
    Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow!

    is actually by Edward Fitzgerald.

  • 7d: ADHD drug (RITALIN). Gimme.

  • 9d: California setting of the Esalen Institute (BIG SUR). It was enough to be aware that the town existed in California. I have no idea what the Esalen Institute is.

  • 11d: Don't give in (STAND FIRM).

  • 13d: Kabuki kin (NOH). Crossword staple.

  • 21d: Malmö resident (SWEDE).

  • 31d: "I loaned a friend of mine $8,000 for plastic surgery and now I don't know what he looks like" comic Philips (EMO). I just included an Emo clip this week, so I'll spare you another.

  • 32d: Boundary (AMBIT). Cool word.

  • 40d: Poker player Elezra (ELI). I'm sure many people were scratching their heads on this one, but I watch enough poker on TV that it was a rare first-name gimme for me.

  • 41d: Chili powder ingredient (CUMIN).

  • 48d: Maker of the Whipps bar (REESES).

  • 49d: Minstrel performer (END MAN). Bonus points for a good clip showing an example of a minstrel end man.

  • 58d: Pentagon on a diamond (HOME). Baseball clue.

  • 59d: C-3PO worshiper (EWOK). Easy enough for a "Star Wars" fan.

  • 61d: 802% of L (CDI). 802% of 50 equals 50% of 802 = 401.

Suns of Bitches:

  • 25a: Pro Bowl cornerback Bly (DRE). Yeah, whatever.

  • 2d: Battle of Manila Bay leader (DEWEY). I'm not a big war buff, but I suppose I should probably have known this.

  • 60d: Professor Cameron's first name in "Mary Worth" (IAN). This one, on the other hand, was completely done by crossings. At least it's a normal name, as opposed to, say, DRE.

All in all, I found this to be a very challenging puzzle that I had to break open slowly and deliberately. My biggest problem was the northwest corner, where AGOG/LEVI instead of AWED/LEAH really set me back. Still, I was able to finish in under 25 minutes, which isn't bad for me for a difficult puzzle since I'm no speed demon. A unique theme in a tough, but not unfair puzzle, with a plethora of interesting fill and clever clues -- what more can you ask for on a Friday? For my money, not much.

Thanks for listening.

- Pete M.


Anonymous said...

ONAN is also the root of the word onanism, which I'm grateful you didn't include a picture (or video) of. I wonder if he ever makes it into the NYT puzzle...

Joon said...

yeah, he does, lots of times. but it's always with a dry, non-specific clue like "son of judah" or "grandson of leah." no seed-spilling is mentioned.

good question on OMAR. this is not the first time i've seen a clue like this in a crossword where the answer was OMAR, so i'm wondering if he's one of those guys who sometimes is known by just his first name (like, say, dante). having said that, in every context other than crosswords, i've always seen omar khayyám, not just omar. as for the fitzgerald thing, the clue did say "poet," so the fact that the translation is by fitzgerald shouldn't trip you up. i mean, i know fitzgerald is also a poet, but it's not his original work. anyway, the alternative would be cluing it in persian, which would be tough even for a friday sun. :)

ArtLvr said...

Loved this puzzle -- even knew ELI Elezra!

Wasn't OMAR also known as Omar the Tentmaker? I didn't balk at lack of last name. Nice echoing of ODOR and AROMA, with good clues. Ditto ADM and DEWEY, DRONE and BOMB, even RINDS and MOLTS in a sense.

Anonymous said...

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