Girl group with 1986 #1 hit / SAT 5-19-12 / 1977 Paul Davis hit / Poet credited with popularizing haiku / Humpalot Austin Powers villain / Bill who composed Gonna Fly Now / Snow Russell Brand's character / Comic strip that Chic Young abandoned to create Blondie /
Saturday, May 19, 2012
Constructor: Patrick Berry
Relative difficulty: Medium
Word of the Day: Matsuo BASHO (44D: Poet credited with popularizing haiku) —
Matsuo Bashō (松尾 芭蕉, 1644 – November 28, 1694), born Matsuo Kinsaku (松尾 金作), thenMatsuo Chūemon Munefusa (松尾 忠右衛門 宗房), was the most famous poet of the Edo period inJapan. During his lifetime, Bashō was recognized for his works in the collaborative haikai no renga form; today, after centuries of commentary, he is recognized as a master of brief and clear haiku. His poetry is internationally renowned, and in Japan many of his poems are reproduced on monuments and traditional sites. (wikipedia)
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ARAL (10A: Asian sea name) and BANANARAMA (14A: Girl group with a 1986 #1 hit) about 2 seconds after I started the clock. "I GO CRAZY" was a ubiquitous radio hit *just* when I was beginning to listen to the radio (19A: 1977 Paul Davis hit that spent 25 weeks in the Top 40). I don't know the comic strip "DUMB DORA," but I know "Match Game," and they used that name in their fill-in-the-blank challenges a Lot (33D: Comic strip that Chic Young abandoned to create "Blondie"). Even BASHO came swimming up out of my memory banks with a few crosses. My grid shows no write-overs. CONTI (38A: Bill who composed "Gonna Fly Now") and the ALDOUS (40D: ___ Snow, Russell Brand's character in "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" and "Get Him to the Greek") were the only total mysteries to me, and they were crossed in such a way that they barely slowed me down. After a mostly painful, sloggy week, this was like a sunny path through clear mountain air. A short path, though; normally I would feel triumphant after slaying a Saturday puzzle in 7:25, but it's Patrick Berry, so ... ALDOUS aside (give me Huxley or give me death), I wish I'd gotten to spend a few more minutes with this one. Clean, crisp, fun. Please hold this puzzle up against Every Other Puzzle from this week to see the difference between clean, conscientious, professional grid-filling and "... meh, that'll do."
Oh, one more thing: this puzzle has no Es. None. Yeah, let that sink in. My friend Andrew pointed that out to me. He was like "*this* is what I pay the NYT money for," and I was like "yeah, this puzzle's really good," and he was like "did you notice...?" and I was all "what?" and then he goes: "it has no Es." And then there were five seconds of total awed silence. And then my brain exploded.
Rule #1 of puzzle construction: emulate Patrick Berry in all things. You will never be his equal, but the only honorable thing to do is die trying.
GARBO) (22D: Four-time Oscar nominee (never a winner) in the 1930s) or highly inferrable (e.g. IVANA Humpalot) (27A: ___ Humpalot, Austin Powers villain)—again, ALDOUS is the exception. There are nice pairings and juxtapositions all over the grid, from the AMIGOS having TACOS at the top to the SLIPPING ON and HANGING OUT at the bottom. "I GO CRAZY" fittingly runs through AMOR (10D: Topic for Catullus). Ooh, I noticed that I do have one almost imperceptible write-over. I had FLOP when the answer was FLIP (29D: Rapid turnover). Corazon AQUINO bailed me out there (actually, her assassinated husband, Benigno, is the person for whom the airport is named — he was actually assassinated *at* the airport in 1983 — but I know the name only because of her) (35A: Manila airport name).
- 25A: "___ Time," 1952 million-selling Eddie Fisher hit ("ANY") — off the "A"; what else was it going to be? Eddie Fisher was Princess Leia's dad.
- 43A: "Clamshell" computers of old (iBOOKS) — this and HANGING OUT took me way longer than they should've. I had the "i" and MACS wasn't long enough; then I just blanked until I got some crosses.
- 2D: Second Triumvirate member (ANTONY) — I'd like to think I'd've gotten this without crosses, but I'm not so sure. Anyway, I had crosses, so point moot.
- 3D: David with a role for himself on TV (LARRY) — I have a certain young constructor friend who's *kind of* obsessed, so I've had occasion to think about this guy a fair amount lately, despite my never having seen even one completely episode of "Curb Your Enthusiasm." Nothing personal. Just haven't gotten around to it. I assume I will. Eventually.