Cosmetics chain whose name comes from Greek for beauty / TUE 10-12-10 / Band with 2008 song Electric Feel / Missouri city informally
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Constructor: José Chardiet
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: Calendar — 12 starred clues have answers that begin JAN, FEB, MAR, etc., respectively (In .puz version, "Note" reads: "The answers to the 12 starred clues have something in common. What is it? (Answer in Notepad)" — Notepad reads: "The answers to the 12 starred clues start with abbreviations for the months of the year, in order.")
Word of the Day: SEPHORA (55A: Cosmetics chain whose name comes from the Greek for "beauty") —
Sephora is a chain of cosmetics stores founded in France in 1969 and acquired by Paris-based conglomerate LVMH in 1997. The Sephora chain includes more than 750 stores in 21 countries. It carries over 250 brands of items that include makeup, skin care, fragrance, bath, hair products, hair tools, and other beauty accessories, including Sephora's own private label. // Sephora opened its first US store in New York in 1997. Its North American headquarters are located in San Francisco, with marketing offices in New York City and Montreal. Sephora is a division of the Paris-based Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVMH). Sephora is known for their sampling program and for their life time return policy. (wikipedia)
Solved this on paper last night and it seemed like there were many more thorny parts than I'm used to seeing on Tuesdays. First problem came when I didn't know if SABER was SABRE or SABER (24A: Cavalry blade). Then I put in LONER at 7D: Outcast, which gave me a correct "L" and "E" and "R." This meant that I eventually ended up wondering how an [Outcast] was a LOPER and why FOBREZE spelled its name so strangely (confusion lasted only a few seconds, probably, but still...). Then the whole west side seemed tough to me. PSST is not clearly a 20A: Cheater's utterance to me. At all. I can picture the context, but that clue did not tip that answer easily at all. Also, I still don't see how SYNERGY is adjectival (22D: Working well together). "Look at them—they're SYNERGY?" Or is [Working well together] supposed to be a noun phrase? I know SYNERGY only as a noun, and can't imagine that clue as anything but an adjectival phrase, so ... I had issues. Also can't even picture AUGIE Doggie, and I watched a lot of cartoons as a kid. ST. JOE I guessed pretty early on (31D: Missouri city, informally), but it still seems toughish for Tuesday. Then there was the SW, where SEPHORA was utterly unknown to me—needed every cross. Lord help that people that don't know about cosmetic stores *and* think pop music has a JONES Brothers. Lastly, there was the clue on MGMT. (26A: Band with the 2008 song "Electric Feel"). I got it easily (I own the album that song is on), but I can tell you right now that a solid majority of NYT solvers are going to look at that clue / answer pairing and go "??????" Totally valid clue, but not a typically Tuesday clue.
In the end, I enjoyed this puzzle for its unusual grid shape, unusual answers, and ambitious theme. There were unattractive parts — I almost stopped solving indignantly at NAR. (3D: Not wide: Abbr.), one of the ugliest and least probable abbrevs. I've seen in a while — but there was enough zing here to keep me from being too put off by the rough stuff.
- 1A: *Reno and 38-Across, for two (JANETS)
- 15A: *Proecter & Gamble deodorizer (FEBREZE)
- 16A: *Sweet Italian wine (MARSALA)
- 17A: *Fitting (APROPOS)
- 33A: *The second "M" of MGM (MAYER)
- 34A: *Roundabout, for one (JUNCTION)
- 43A: *Actress Lewis of "Natural Born Killers" (JULIETTE)
- 45A: *Hanna-Barbera's ___ Doggie (AUGIE)
- 55A: *Cosmetics chain whose name comes from the Greek for "beauty" (SEPHORA)
- 59A: *Nadya Suleman, mother of 14, familiarly (OCTOMOM) — some kind of genius to put this answer right on top of FERTILE (65A: Productive)
- 64A: *Nays (NO VOTES)
- 67A: *Remove nails from (DECLAW)
- 32A: Parental palindrome (DAD) — Not POP. Not MOM. Not R.U.R.
- 4D: Canadian query closers (EHS) — Weirdly worded clue, but instantly gettable.
- 14D: Nickname of the dictator who said "I know the Haitian people because I am the Haitian people" (PAPA DOC) — Duvalier. I remember this name vaguely from '80s news—his son "BABY DOC" was overthrown in 1986. And now I am picturing PAPA DOC and BABY DOC having cartoon adventures with one another a la Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddy. Just play the "Augie Doggie" clip above, then hide your browser, and imagine the father and son are Haitian dictators. It's fun!
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