WEDNESDAY, Sep. 23 2009 — 1992 presidential aspirant Paul / Apology starter / Island east of Java / A place you can go in 1979 #2 hit
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Constructor: Jonathan Gersch
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: HENRY HUDSON (55A: Explorer who sailed into 46-Across in 1609) — 400th anniversary puzzle (?) commemorating Hudson's sailing into NEW YORK HARBOR
Word of the Day: Paul TSONGAS (8D: 1992 presidential aspirant Paul) — Paul Efthemios Tsongas (pronounced /ˈsɒŋɡəs/; February 14, 1941–January 18, 1997) was a United States Senator from Massachusetts and a one-time candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. Previously he also served as a U.S. Representative from Massachusetts and held local political office as well. (wikipedia) — he won the New Hampshire primary, but James Carville dubbed Clinton the "Comeback Kid" because he did so well following a spate of bad press, and Clinton did indeed come back and leave other candidates in the dust.
An utterly straight tribute puzzle that is crammed to the gills with theme answers, yet somehow produces zero joy. Fact. Fact. Fact. Zzzzzz. I have some tolerance for cross-referenced clues, but there isn't a single theme clue here that doesn't involve being directed to another theme answers. I lost interest at 1A. Of course the non-theme fill isn't that hot — you can't expect it to be with the serious restrictions placed on it by the theme density. In the end, it is what it is. If you enjoy uncovering little bits of trivia, this is the puzzle for you. Just not the puzzle for me.
- 1A: With 69-Across, ship of 55-Across (HALF / MOON)
- 67A: With 8-Across, business of 55-Across's backers (SPICE / TRADE) — really wish SPICE and TRADE could have TRADEd positions here.
- 18A: Aptly named ship on a later voyage of 55-Across (DISCOVERY) — how is a "later voyage" relevant to this event-specific theme?
- 20A: Body of water sailed in by 55-Across (ARCTIC OCEAN) — sailed in generally, sailed in in 1609 ... ?
- 26A: Like most of the voyages of 55-Across (TRANSATLANTIC)
- 46A: See 55-Across (NEW YORK HARBOR)
- 55A: Explorer who sailed into 46-Across in 1609 (HENRY HUDSON)
- 61A: 55-Across's destination when returning to Europe (AMSTERDAM)
There are a TON of names in today's puzzle, which is fine by me, but do all their clues have to be so incredibly dull and straightforward? The most interesting one is 68A: Stephen of "V for Vendetta" (REA), and that's only because the movie involved is relatively recent and not "The Crying Game" again.
- 6D: Attorney General Holder (Eric)
- 11D: Laura of "Jurassic Park" (Dern)
- 12D: "A Day Without Rain" singer (Enya)
- 14D: Mrs. Gorbachev (Raisa)
- 19D: Psychologist Jung (Carl) — those last four Downs are sequential
- 32D: Educator Horace (Mann)
- 33D: Mayberry boy (Opie)
- 38D: Nabokov title heroine (Ada) — those last three are sequential
- 49D: "24" agent Jack (Bauer)
- 59D: Hall-of-Fame QB Graham (Otto)
All Downs, all clued with zero panache. I think my favorite clue of the day is 48D: German children (kinder), if only because it's an interesting / unexpected clue for KINDER (what with English options being readily available). Ooh, and I like the symmetrical HOODLUM in FETTERS (45D: Tough + 4D: Chains). That's nice. Otherwise, kind of a drag.
- 24A: Cornstarch brand (Argo) — went with SAGO ... isn't that right? No, SAGO is a starch for baking, but it's not from corn, but from the SAGO palm. Dang, I can see a can in my mind ... something to do with baking ... brand name ending "O" ... not named after Jason's ship ... grrr. Aha, it's KARO, and it's corn syrup. OK, I feel better now.
- 17A: Gossipy type (yenta) — unexpectedly common, this word. Started the puzzle by guessing HIYA (1D: Informal greeting) and confirming it off of this answer.
- 40A: Apology starter (Mea) — as in "mea culpa"; that eastern section took me longer than it should have because I dropped in TONGA (!?) where TIMOR was supposed to go (29D: Island east of Java).
- 3D: Nickname for someone who shares a name with the 16th president [of the United States] (Linc) — so, all name clues are boring, except this one, which is awkward and unwieldy. Great.
- 57D: "A place you can go," in a 1979 #2 hit (YMCA) — again, what is with the clue? Of all the lyrics in that song, that's what you pick? But ... "you can get yourself clean." "You can have a good meal." And best of all, "you can hang out with all the boys." Come on!
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]
P.S. Will has asked me to post this info about the upcoming tournament in Pleasantville, NY. (And by "upcoming" I mean Two Days From Now) Sounds like a good time. You should go. I found out about it too late or I'd be going myself. I know Caleb Madison will be there. He's adorable, so that alone should be enough of a draw. Come on, if you're in the area anyway, you should go. You don't have Friday plans, anyway. No you don't. Oh, come on, you're not fooling anyone.
Pleasantville Crossword Contest
This Friday, Sept. 25, will be the 13th annual Westchester Crossword Puzzle Tournament, held in Pleasantville, NY, hosted by Will Shortz. The event will go from 7:30 to about 9:45 p.m., at the St. John's Episcopal Church, 8 Sunnyside Ave. (corner of Bedford Road). The atmosphere is relaxed and friendly. The puzzles will consist of the Monday through Thursday crosswords from next week's New York Times. Two of the four constructors are expected to be on hand as officials. Prizes are awarded in many categories. Regular Times constructors can't compete, but are welcome to help judge. The cost to enter is $30 (or $45 for a doubles team), which includes coffee and dessert, with all the proceeds going to the Pleasantville Fund for Learning. Registration can be done at the door. The site is convenient from MetroNorth or by car. For more information, call 914-773-7794 or visit <www.pleasantville-fund-for-learning.com>.