2008 Pixar robot — WEDNESDAY, Sep. 30 2009 — Monopoly avenue in light-blue group / Bull on glue bottles / Copacabana locale
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Constructor: Kevin G. Der
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: 19th-century writers from CONCORD, MA — theme answers are four 19th-century American writers. "Note" on the puzzle explains: "When the puzzle is done, the circled letters will spell, from top to bottom, the name of the town where all the people in this puzzle's theme once lived."
Word of the Day: Arthur Godfrey (16A: Arthur Godfrey's instrument, informally => UKE) — Arthur Morton Leo Godfrey (August 31, 1903 – March 16, 1983) was an American radio and television broadcaster and entertainer who was sometimes introduced by his nickname, The Old Redhead. No television personality of the 1950s enjoyed more clout or fame than Godfrey until an on-camera incident undermined his folksy image and triggered a gradual decline; the then-ubiquitous Godfrey helmed two CBS-TV weekly series and a daily 90-minute television mid-morning show through most of the decade but by the early 1960s found himself reduced to hosting an occasional TV special. Arguably the most prominent of the medium's early master commercial pitchmen, he was strongly identified with one of his many sponsors, Lipton Tea. (wikipedia)
Circling arbitrary letters? Can I connect them and make a picture? A picture of Massachusetts? Why one "C" and on the other? The one in "ICILY" and not the one in "OCTAD?" I guess that since the circled letter bit really isn't intrinsic to the solving of the puzzle, I shouldn't judge it too harshly, but finding the letters, C, O, N, C, O, R, D, M, A from top to bottom in any given grid is not going to be hard. I can find all of them, in order, in just the top half of yesterday's grid, for instance. The base theme of four authors whose names fit neatly and symmetrically inside the grid is otherwise just OK. The CONCORD, MA trivia does make it hang together much more nicely than the simple fact of their all being 19th-century writers alone would have. But the circled letters sloppily strewn about the grid are aesthetically unappealing.
- 1A: With 6- and 22-Across, noted 19th-century writer (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
- 24A: With 53-Across, noted 19th-century writer (Nathaniel Hawthorne)
- 39A: Noted 19th-century writer (Louisa May Alcott)
- 70A: With 71- and 55-Across, noted 19th-century writer (Henry David Thoreau)
I'm not a 19th-century literature expert by any means, but the very familiar (and long) author names made the puzzle pretty easy to zip through. I tripped a bit in the middle putting up OCEANIA instead of EURASIA (28D: Superstate in Orwell's "1984"), and for some (ironic?) reason, couldn't find the end of WHINY to save my life (for a few moments, anyway). Clue on RYE (69A: Alternative to white) was deceptive enough that I had to stop tearing through the puzzle and think for a minute — a not unwelcome event on a Wednesday (litotes!). Not a fan of two partials in the same grid both beginning with indefinite article "A" (A PAIR, A LIE). And YEOW, that's some spelling on YEOW (41D: "That hurts!"). Seen it before, but still not sure how it differs in sound / meaning from "YOW." Maybe you hold the "E" sound longer.
Speaking of OCEANIA, which I was, my thoughts and good wishes go out to the people of Samoa who were devastated by the tsunami that apparently struck while I was sleeping. Lots of Samoans in my wife's native New Zealand and in Los Angeles and other American communities. News of the tsunami was how NPR decided to wake me up this morning.
- 27D: Bullet point (item) — ceci n'est pas un bullet point.
- 32A: The Bakkers' old ministry, for short (PTL) — had the -TL and was ready to drop "S" or "A" in there before ever looking at the clue. This is why you look at clues.
- 35A: Subject of a Debussy piece (mer) — as in "LA Mer." Heard some beautiful Debussy etudes on "Performance Today" yesterday. This is the guy who was playing:
- 62A: 2008 Pixar robot (Wall-E) — ... said the constructor who works for Pixar. Product placement!
- 59A: Bull on glue bottles (Elmer) — his weirdly proud mug is familiar in this house, as daughter is constantly doing "projects" that involve cutting, gluing, etc.
- 1D: Copacabana locale (Rio) — Why did I always imagine that the story in the song took place in the U.S.? "North of Havana!" There must be more than one.
- 7D: TV's Kwik-E-Mart clerk (Apu) — I would also have accepted Sanjay, Homer, or James Woods.
- 10D: Monopoly avenue in the light-blue group (Oriental) — Either VERMONT or CONNECTICUT would have fit the Northeastern theme better.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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PS Celebrity crossword enthusiast and breast cancer survivor Christina Applegate is the 2009 Ambassador for Lee National Denim Day (this Friday, Oct. 2, 2009), a day to raise awareness about breast cancer issues as well as raise money for the Women's Cancer Programs of the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF), including Christina's own foundation, Right Action For Women. They're asking for $5 donations. I'm giving a little more. Go here to donate. Thanks.