Trading center during Klondike gold rush / SAT 6-26-10 / Colliery access / 1960s-'70s Citroën / Baltimore neighborhood that includes Marble Hill
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Saint Philip Romolo Neri (Italian: Filippo de Neri) (July 22, 1515 – May 25, 1595), also known as Apostle of Rome, was an Italian priest, noted for founding a society of secular priests called the "Congregation of the Oratory". (wikipedia)
• • •
Not that exciting, especially after yesterday's whimsical affair. This one was just a slog—typical Saturday difficulty, but no Saturday joy. As far as I can tell, "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?" (56A: "Seriously?") is the only reason for this puzzle to exist. Maybe I'd extend that compliment to "SOMETHING'S FISHY" (17A: Rat smeller's words). The rest was either plain or overly commonplace, and the cluing was obscure rather than playful (despite the onslaught of "?" clues). In a 70-worder, why is there so much weaksauce? NERI? ALOW (27D: On a deck beneath)? ANISES (31D: Members of the carrot family)? ASI/ASA? OCTA (5D: Prefix with -valent)?! ERY (14D: Green attachment)?! And what is with the out-of-left nonsense cluing on DAHL (6D: Gary who invented the Pet Rock), AMI (7D: 1960s-'70s Citroën), ELK (47D: Pennsylvania's ___ Mountain (skiing area)), NOSE (12D: A hook might give it a hook), TATA (28A: Heathrow takeoff sound?), etc.? I get it, it's Saturday, things are tough all over. But the AHA in this grid (38D: Brainstorm outburst) is a cruel reminder that I didn't exclaim that word once while solving this (well, not in joy, anyway; maybe IN ANGER — 44A: Way to look back?). I did like the grid shape—unusual, though it increased the amount of short fill, which inevitably increases the amount of crap fill, sadly.
Lots of trouble getting started today. I've been doing late-week puzzles on paper (instead of on-screen) lately, and it's really a major change. Feels like wading through mud, and my eyes don't seem to know where to go. On-screen solving has conditioned my brain, eyes, fingers—going off-grid (as it were) is putting me a little off balance at the moment. Anyway, I started in the middle of the grid (almost never happens when I'm solving on-screen), with "EAT IT" (massive gimme—34D: 1984 hit with the lyric "Have a banana, have a whole bunch"). Got IN AGNER, AHA, and STEN (35D: 9-mm. weapon) from there, but didn't get much further—that east coast, with its ANISES and NERI, was opaque to me for a while. Poked around in the NW, but didn't get much. Ended up getting first real toehold in the far SW, with ABA (56D: Grp. concerned with precedents) and ARAB (50D: Many a dinar spender) leading to BARREL (60A: Crude container) and then up out of there to my first grid-crosser, ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Grid construction thwarted easy movement from section to section. Fragile, narrow, one-square connections everywhere you look.
Plunked ADIT down as soon as I saw the clue (11D: Colliery access). Ditto DYNE (42A: Unit in an erg's definition). Those are some olde-timey Maleska-era repeaters.
Don't have much more to say about this one. It was a Saturday. I struggled, then I finished. The end.
- 19A: Roll (PEAL) — Total guess on the "-AL." I assume this has something to do with thunder? Can't tell you how Wrong OCTA- looks—that's why I balked at PEAL.
- 41A: Trading center during the Klondike gold rush (WHITE HORSE) — Entertaining the possibility of ORLON (where ARGON ended up — 29D: Composition of some plasmas — ????), put the "O" after the "H," which made WHITE HORSE jump forth, despite the fact that I don't know anything about it and couldn't have told you where it was located before I started this puzzle. To me, WHITE HORSE = heroin.
- 62A: "Climb Ev'ry Mountain" singer in "The Sound of Music" (ABBESS) — noooo idea. Don't think I've ever seen the whole movie, actually. Pretty inferrable, though. I knew there were nuns involved. Nuns and Nazis.
- 25D: Baltimore neighborhood that includes Marble Hill (UPTON) — a Baltimore neighborhood? And I thought having to know Minneapolis suburbs was bad. Appearance of Baltimore in puzzle gives me an opportunity to plug the new John Waters' memoir, "Role Models," once again. Read it in about a day and a half, which is *fast* for me. The essays are fascinating and funny and — best of all — I never had any idea what was coming next. Zigs and zags. Johnny Mathis to the Manson Family to Tennessee Williams to "Outsider Porn" to the joys of book-reading. Truly outrageous in parts. He's fantastic.
- 51D: Dinar spender (SERB) — One of those quirks of currency naming: DINAR is the name of currency in nine countries across three continents. So ARABs and SERBs both spend them.
- 57D: Semana segment (DIA) — one of the grid's half-dozen or so gimmes.
- 58D: Chain-sporting star (MR. T) — in looking for the episode of "The Simpsons" on which MR. T appeared, I found this choice bit of Krustyiana, which reminded me why I love the show so much:
- [Krusty is infuriated, because he doesn´t have a star on the Jewish walk of fame.]
- Krusty: Why don´t I have a star?! I´m much better than... (squints) Chaim Potok?! What is he,a Klingon?!
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]