Petrified weeper of myth / THU 10-14-10 / Fictional villain given name Julius / 1959 hit with lyric did he ever return
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Constructor: Jim Hilger
Relative difficulty: Challenging
|From Rex Parker Does the NYT Crossword Puzzle|
THEME: STAY and READ BETWEEN THE LINES (20A: With 40-Across, coloring advice ... and literally so and 58A: With 40-Across, infer something ... and literally so) — STAY and READ "literally" appear sandwiched between two LINES: MASON/DIXON (17A: Border names) and WHITESTAR (24A: Owner of the Titanic), on the one hand, and FREETHROW (52A: Unblockable shot) and PRODUCTION (61A: Factory output), on the other.
Word of the Day: MOSHE Arens (12D: ___ Arens, former Israeli defense minister) —
Moshe Arens (Hebrew: משה ארנס, born 27 December 1925) is an Israeli aeronautical engineer, researcher and former diplomat and politician. A member of the Knesset between 1973 and 1992 and again from 1999 until 2003, he served as Minister of Defense three times and once as Minister of Foreign Affairs. Arens has also served as the Israeli ambassador to the U.S. and was professor at the Technion in Haifa. (wikipedia)
• • •
This was flat-out confusing to me. Took me longer than a Thursday's taken me in a good long while. In fact, it took me longer than Any puzzle on Any day of the week has taken me for several weeks (11-ish minutes). Admittedly, I wasn't solving under the best conditions: on laptop, on couch, half-listening to TV. But still, yikes. First, I got the theme early and couldn't believe that that was it — READ and STAY ... so what? Who cares? (it wasn't until Well after I had finished that I got the "literally so" part of the clues). But I couldn't make much headway At All in the entire W, NW, and N. Just ... jack. The two LINEs were invisible to me, MASON/DIXON because of the weird way it was clued, and WHITESTAR because I've never heard of it. Had WHITESPAR and then noticed that SPAR was in the grid and changed PENN to the (correct) TENN. (26D: Clingmans Dome is its highest point: Abbr.). Even before closing in on the tough NW, the NE had given me fits with two proper names I didn't know and odd cluing on the stuff I did. I admire the concept of this puzzle, but did not enjoy solving it. Cluing seemed off and vague, and answers just weren't that interesting. Not so fond of Scrabbliness when I have to suffer a HEXA TAK to get it.
Where to begin with the issues. Let's see: MOSHE and BEHAN (13D: Irish writer Brendan), not in my arsenal (though ultimately I just guessed MOSHE from the -HE and from knowing that MOSHE is a Hebrew name). WHITESTAR? Never heard of it. Had INTERCEPT for INTERDICT (37D: Head off). OEO? Not ringing bell (64D: Antipoverty agcy.). DR. NO? No. Had the "O" and could think only of IAGO (34A: Fictional villain whose given name is Julius). DWELT? I had DWELL — figured clue was asking me to recall the idiomatic phrase "to DWELL in the past," and that that was what the "?" was about in the clue [Live in the past?]. But I guess you DWELL "on" the past ... at any rate, I only turned the answer into the "past" tense when DEVOLE refused to be a real word (it's DEVOTE, 34D: Commit). SLEEVE was very hard to see (43A: It might be rolled up on a farm). HOTELs are for lots of people, not just tourists, so that didn't come easily (25D: Tourist locale). Had no Idea what the song lyric in 33A: 1959 hit with the lyric "Did he ever return? No, he never returned" was about. With that lyric, I figured (what else?) "M.I.A." But no, it's that stupid song I never heard of except in xwords, "MTA." Don't think of DISSIPATE as "going away" — thinning out, lessening, scattering, sure (3D: Go away). MASON/DIXON is clued as a plural, so went looking for terminal "S" ... wanted APR for 2D: Abbr. in many car ads (EPA). SCOTT'S is a paper towel to me, so no hope there (4D: Big name in lawn care) (paper towel is actually just SCOTT, it turns out). Raggedy ANDYS? After KENS, I was at a loss (5D: Some male dolls). All in all, a real slog for me in that whole quadrant.
- 5A: Some Spiders, informally (ALFAS) — as in Romeos. Took a little thought.
- 15A: Petrified weeper of myth (NIOBE) — terminal letter always gets me. I want to end it in "I," like NAOMI.
- 28A: Old ___ Bucket (Big Ten conference football prize) (OAKEN) — time at University of Michigan came in handy here—not that it helped terribly much.
- 30A: Worrying comment from a surgeon (OOPS) — Had "OH NO"
- 56A: "___ Es el Amor" (classic Spanish-language hit) (ESO) — No Idea, but what else was the answer going to be besides this ultra common bit of crossword fill?
- 6D: 2018 Super Bowl number (LII) — if you want to make me hate a Random Roman Numeral (RRN) more than I would normally, just clue it via a hypothetical future Super Bowl. And 52 is a good number: cards in a deck, weeks in a year, etc.
- 24D: Sonogram targets (WOMBS) — took me shockingly long to get this, even with the "B" in place. Could think only of ABS, likely because "targets" just sounds too violent. "We're going to target your abs," sure, in workout parlance. "We're going to target your WOMBS!" Uh, I'd run ladies.
- 35D: Thatching material (REED) — I don't thatch much these days, so ???
- 47D: Pressing concern for an astronaut? (G FORCE) — When I see "pressing" and "?" in the vicinity of one another, I'm thinking only of ironing.
[The crying one]
[The laughing one]
Oh, and Happy Birthday, Sandy :)
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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