1977 PBS sensation / SAT 10-25-14 / Trumpeter Jones / Musical partner of DJ Spinderella Salt / Singer Aguilera's nickname / Mysore Palace resident / Sci-fi disturbances / Sassiness slangily

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Constructor: Patrick Blindauer

Relative difficulty: Medium

[In lieu of a finished grid, please accept this picture of my dog balancing a cupcake on her head.]

THEME: none, except, you know, the META

Word of the Day: "PIE JESU" (42A: Requiem Mass part) —
Pie Jesu (original Latin: Pie Iesu) is a motet derived from the final couplet of the Dies irae and often included in musical settings of the Requiem Mass. // The settings of the Requiem Mass by Luigi Cherubini, Gabriel Fauré, Maurice Duruflé, John Rutter, Karl Jenkins and Fredrik Sixten include a Pie Jesu as an independent movement. Of all these, by far the best known is the Pie Jesu from Fauré's Requiem. Camille Saint-Saëns said of Fauré's Pie Jesu that "[J]ust as Mozart's is the only Ave verum corpus, this is the only Pie Jesu".
Andrew Lloyd Webber's setting of Pie Jesu in his Requiem (1985) has also become well known. It has been recorded by Sarah BrightmanJackie EvanchoSissel KyrkjebøMarie OsmondAnna Netrebko, and others. Performed by Sarah Brightman and Paul Miles-Kingston, it was a certified Silver hit in the UK in 1985. (wikipedia)
• • •

So I'm playing along with Management (NYT Management) and not posting the grid. Because Contest. Even though most people don't give a rap about the contest and would just as soon know what the meta is right now. I know, man. Believe me. I hear you. But since you don't even have to fully solve today's puzzle to get the meta-puzzle clues, I'm not sure how necessary a grid reveal is. If you were able to unveil the meta clues in today's puzzle *and* you have experience solving metas, then getting the answer should be a cinch. But don't feel bad if you're stumped. Many people's initial forays into meta-puzzling are fruitless and frustrating. But I love a good meta, and this one is at least good. My only problem is … I was right. About earlier grids—they were made weaker, fill-wise, because they were meta-weight-bearing, i.e. if there'd been no meta, Every Single One of the themed puzzles this week would've been better. But … on the whole, the puzzles weren't what I'd call "bad," and the meta is really quite nice.

I knew the meta before I solved this puzzle. I got an email from a well-known constructor telling me she was able to grok the meta early based on comments I'd made on my blog. This was surprising to me, as I had not solved the meta yet, and so anything I revealed via my blog was entirely accidental. So I made her tell me what it was I said that tipped her, and I was able to figure out the theme from there. My initial hunches were all good—there was just one little connection that I, a reasonably seasoned meta-solver, should've made, but didn't (a connection laid out pretty explicitly in today's grid). When she told me (or hinted at it, anyway), I did a sincere and hearty "D'oh!" The trick is something out of Meta-Solving 101, Rexy! Maybe 102. Anyway, many top meta-solvers were able to smoke out the meta answer early. I wasn't really trying very hard, but still, I think I should've seen what was up, considering I was sniffing around the right places.

OK, so … yeah. See you tomorrow, maybe. I forget what the prize is for this contest, but I hope you win it.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Title carpenter of 1859 novel / FRI 10-24-14 / Flowering plant named for Greek god / Henchman first seen in Spy Who Loved Me / Richard March inventor rotary printing press / One with short hajj

Friday, October 24, 2014

Constructor: Patrick Blindauer

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none — I mean, none on its own. There is, of course, the meta:

Word of the Day: Richard March HOE (25A: Richard March ___ (inventor of the rotary printing press)) —
Richard March Hoe (September 12, 1812 – June 7, 1886) was an American inventor who designed an improved printing press. […] In 1843, Richard invented a rotary printing press that placed the type on a revolving cylinder, a design much faster than the old flatbed printing press. It received U.S. Patent 5,199 in 1847, and was placed in commercial use the same year. In its early days, it was variously called the "Hoe lightning press," and "Hoe's Cylindrical-Bed Press," and was later developed into the "Hoe web perfecting press." (wikipedia)
• • •

Well, I don't think this puzzle has a theme, but who knows? I don't see anything "times"-related except a couple more "X"s (they're baaack…) and that lone watch clue for LCDS (4D: Watch things, for short). Maybe if I blacken all the letters in the word "TIMES," I'll get a picture of a beetle or a pterodactyl or Richard Simmons. I noticed that "ATE" appears 5 times (TIMES) in this grid. I don't think that means anything. I noticed "TEST" appears 3 times (TIMES) in this grid. I don't think that means anything either. I noticed that T.S. ELIOT is an anagram of TOILETS. You can do with that what you will. Mainly I noticed that this is the cleanest grid of the week, perhaps because it was the first one not required to do two things at once (i.e. have a theme *and* relate to the week-long meta somehow). Fill is mostly clean, and there's enough excitement in the SE corner for three puzzles. GIN JOINTS is easily my favorite answer in the whole damned puzzle.

Solved this one in a way that is increasingly familiar: slow start, then traction, *speed*, then slow finish (as, almost inevitably, the last place I arrive at in the puzzle is the toughest for me). At first I didn't have much besides EAU and STD and the incorrect FOBS (instead of LCDS). But for some reason [Patient looks?] all of a sudden became obvious (XRAYS), and that got me going. Never heard of an ORG CHART, but it was inferable, and so I was out of that corner pretty quickly after the initial push from XRAYS. Things sped up from there. The crosswordtastic LENYA got me into the SW and I destroyed that corner in a matter of seconds despite not knowing who UZO Aduba is (I guess I'll be seeing that last name in crosswords soon, too). LET IT BE instead of LET IT GO slowed me down a tad, but GANJA got me back in the game. EGOTISTS over ELITISTS at first (38D: They think they're special), but that didn't last long. Burned my way right up into the NE section, where I experienced my final, slower, push to completion after throwing up not CZARS but TSARS at 10D: Bygone emperors). This made ZIP UP and CRASS harder to get than they should've been. HOE was a mystery, but I expect he was designed to be. In the end, pressure from the words I did know in that corner forced TSARS to turn to CZARS and I was done.

Not sure why APTEST wasn't clued as an AP TEST, since we've already got one (even more strained) superlative adjective in the grid at SEDATEST. But I don't have any other nits, really. This was fine. Excited to see how all these puzzles tie together tomorrow. I've been asked not to comment on tomorrow's puzzle At All (because of the whole contest thingie …). I'll play that by ear. There will definitely be a post. Whether you'll get commentary or a grid, I don't know. Come back and find out, won't you?

Aw crap, I just realized that the first word of the first clue (1A: Times for speaking one's mind?) is TIMES so now it's back to that dimly lit room in my house where I keep all the clues and photos tacked to a wall and connected with pins and string like some cliché detective / serial killer in every hour-long murder drama on TV for the past two decades. I hate it in there!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


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