Pittsburgh Pirates hero 1960 World Series / MON 8-15-11 / Music source on many old fairground / Perry with 1956 #1 hit Hot Diggity
Monday, August 15, 2011
Constructor: Stan Newman
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (*for a Monday*)
THEME: ZIP (56D: Nothing ... or a hint to what's hidden in 20-, 35- and 52-Across) — ZERO is embedded in three theme answers
- APPETIZER ORDER (20A: Buffalo wings or bruschetta, e.g.)
- BILL MAZEROSKI (35A: Pittsburgh Pirates hero of the 1960 World Series)
- WURLITZER ORGAN (52A: Music source on many an old fairground)
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I love the vast majority of this grid — really interesting answers (esp. for a Monday) and very little in the way of junk (we'll just pretend OOO and III didn't happen). [sidenote: "Centerfield" by John Fogerty just came on (I'm listening to his 1985 album, also called "Centerfield," on Spotify) ... I know BILL MAZEROSKI was a second baseman, but still, it seems appropriate]
I had to struggle a bit more than I normally do on Mondays, due largely to the proper nouns: got SAM RAIMI pretty easily, but needed help with BOTSWANA and BEZOS and even BILL MAZEROSKI—blanked on his name, then remembered but misspelled it. Nice to have a bunch of long, none-theme answers in a Monday puzzle. Really livens it up. The one thing I really didn't like about the grid is APPETIZER ORDER. Buffalo wings and bruschetta are APPETIZERS. The "ORDER" part feels horribly tacked-on and non-idiomatic. Theme answers need to be tight, solid, indisputably right. "ORDER" just derails this one. "Mmm, mozzarella stix ... that's my favorite kind of APPETIZER ... ORDER." No no no. That said, I still think this puzzle is good.
Stan Newman is an old pro — a former ACPT champion and editor of the Newsday puzzle, he knows what he's doing with this crossword stuff. Never surprised when his NYT puzzles are top-notch. They aren't frequent, but they're good.
- 39A: Perry with the 1956 #1 hit "Hot Diggity" (COMO) — another proper noun that slowed me down. Way way before my time, and I've never heard this song. I know Perry COMO only by name. He was probably mentioned frequently in '70s-era TV (the only way I can imagine his name sinking into my consciousness).
- 23A: Kid's "shooter" projectile (PEA) — my guess is that a kid has not actually shot a pea since Perry COMO was big. And yet PEA-shooter is a familiar term, and this was easy to get.