Predecessor of Ariel Sharon / THU 1-10-13 / Queen of Denmark, 1947-1972 / Moravian capital / Longtime Ritz competitor / Heavyweight champ after Carnera / Crumhorn, e.g. / Commander of Saul's army, in I Samuel / The British Museum's ___ Marbles / Ural River city
Thursday, January 10, 2013
Constructor: Kevan Choset
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: WH--L OF FORTUN- — The three E's from WHEEL OF FORTUNE have been replaced with BLANK spaces, resembling an incomplete puzzle phrase on the game show. The phrase can be completed by saying "I'D LIKE TO BUY AN E."
Word of the Day: WAUGH (37A: Novelist whose first wife had the same first name, curiously) —
Arthur Evelyn St. John Waugh (28 October 1903 – 10 April 1966), known as Evelyn Waugh, was an English writer of novels, biographies and travel books. He was also a prolific journalist and reviewer. His best-known works include his early satires Decline and Fall (1928) and A Handful of Dust (1934), his novel Brideshead Revisited (1945) and his trilogy of Second World War novels collectively known as Sword of Honour (1952–61). Waugh is widely recognised as one of the great prose stylists of the 20th century. (Wikipedia)
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[Hello from Real Time, where it's Valentine's Day and I have an important announcement!]
Happy Valentine's Day!
Here's something to get for your sweetheart, or yourself, or anyone you know who likes puzzles—"American Red Crosswords." It's a collection of all original puzzles (24 of 'em) to benefit the American Red Cross's Disaster Relief Fund. After Hurricane / Superstorm Sandy hit the NE late last year, I noticed that a friend of mine had offered to donate an original / custom-made puzzle to an auction that was raising money to help support people in affected areas. Seemed like the kind of thing a lot of crossword constructors might be willing to do. So then the potential title "American Red Crosswords" popped into my head (Red Cross + Crosswords), and instead of just mulling it over for a bit and then forgetting about it, the way I do with most ideas that pop into my head, I uncharacteristically pitched the idea to other constructors, and then to the head of the Red Cross (who is a crossword solver herself). Enthusiasm all around. Virtually every constructor I invited to participate said 'yes.' Patrick Blindauer took over puzzle-editing. Will Shortz agreed to write the intro. And now it's done and available for download (as a .PDF) from americanredcrosswords.blogspot.com. Rather than selling it, we're giving it away and asking people to make a donation. There's a link to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund right there on the page. Please go get the puzzles, and give whatever you can. And if you could spread the word in whatever way you have available to you, that would be fantastic. Thanks! P.S. These are mostly easyish puzzles (think Mon-to-Wed. NYT), with a toughie or two thrown in for good measure, so don't be afraid ...
[And now, back to Five Weeks Ago...]
Hello, CrossWorld. Evan Birnholz here, subbing in for Rex while he takes care of an unusual situation. How unusual? Let me put it this way: You know how some NFL play-by-play guys like Al Michaels tend to describe injuries to players by mentioning only the body part and omitting the word "injury" (for instance, "Andre Johnson is out with a knee")? Well, Rex is out with a dog. No really, it's true -- his family picked up a stray yesterday and....I don't really know any more than that, except that the dog requires some extra attention right now. Hopefully it will all work out okay, whether they decide to keep the dog or not. And hopefully I won't cause a bigger blog-related ruckus in Rex's absence.
"I'd like to solve the puzzle" is pretty much a perfect mantra not just for Wheel of Fortune, but crossword solvers everywhere. This puzzle was a pretty fun and inventive way to pay tribute to the classic game show, which debuted almost 38 years ago to the day. Patrick Merrell had a similar idea in September 2003, but I like the execution of this one a little more since the blank spaces accurately illustrate what a Wheel of Fortune puzzle would look like.
- 1A & 63A: One of a popular TV game show duo (WHITE / SAJAK)
- 25A: Request that would complete 42-Across (I'D LIKE TO BUY AN E)
- 42A: When completed, popular TV program starting in 1975 (WH--L OF FORTUN-)
- 34D: Something to fill in (THE [BLANK])
- 43D: Sign of an absent mind ([BLANK] STARE)
- 44D: Nonrhyming poetry ([BLANK] VERSE)
Despite the tough cluing in some precincts -- like on ABNER (18D: Commander of Saul's army, in I Samuel), INGRID (22A: Queen of Denmark, 1947-1972), and who knew that a crumhorn was a REED instrument? -- I actually found this mostly easy for a Thursday. I say mostly because what held me up for a while, not surprisingly, was the gimmick. I initially dropped in the entire game show name at 42-Across, E's included. That made it especially difficult to understand later on how on earth 43D: Sign of an absent mind could possibly be ESTARE. I wrote in I'D LIKE TO BUY AN, leaving out only the last letter. I thought it could plausibly be an A, E, I, or O, and I didn't have a clue on ELGIN (30D: The British Museum's ___ Marbles). Raised as a basketball fan in a suburb north of Chicago, I knew of ELGIN as a Chicago neighborhood and as the NBA Hall-of-Famer Elgin Baylor, but definitely not the whatever-the-hell-those-are Marbles in London. Actually, it turns out that they're pretty amazing, and in fact, I've seem them with my own eyes before -- here's a photo I snapped of one of the Elgin sculptures at the British Museum in May 2005:
To make matters worse, I started looking for some hidden gimmick to the puzzle that didn't even exist. I thought, maybe the grid forms a wheel of whichever missing vowel completes I'D LIKE TO BUY AN -? If so, how come I don't see any circled spaces? Even when I eventually caught on to the trick, I didn't land the a-ha moment cleanly at first. Here's more-or-less what my inner monologue was mid-solve: Oh! It's [EMPTY] STARE! It's E one way but EMPTY the other! By George, Evan, you've done it again, you plucky detective, you! It's a good thing I didn't think that THE [EMPTY] was a legitimate phrase for 34D: Something to fill in.
- 10D: It's a mystery (ENIGMA) — "Nimrod" from Edward Elgar's "Enigma Variations" was my wife's entrance music at our wedding ceremony. Really great music for such an occasion -- I highly recommend it!
- 14A: Many a "Today" show sign (HI MOM) — Cute clue, but I couldn't help but wonder if the people in the live audience would actually write that on their signs. If this picture is any indication, the evidence says that they do.
- 23A: Moravian capital (BRNO) — I had EURO at first, thinking they were going for MONEY (41D: Some Monopoly game equipment) rather than geography. That would have been wrong even if the clue had referred to money; the currency in the Czech Republic is the koruna.
- 31A: One looking down (POUTER) — I've mentioned this in a previous post, but I'm still not a fan of turning just any verb into a noun simply by adding -R or -ER at the end, because sometimes, you'll get a word that nobody uses and the definition is just [verb + R or ER] = One who [verb]s. A pouter is one who pouts. They do a similar thing with FINDER (45D: One earning a fee, maybe); for that, I would have preferred a more modern reference to the search tool that people use on a Mac.
- 46A: Man's name meaning "young man" (SVEN) — My name means "young warrior." That means that my name could totally kick Sven's name's ass on the battlefield.
- 48A: Meeting place for mathematicians? (VERTEX) — Excellent clue.
- 56A: Military protection (BODY ARMOR) — Anyone who's ever played the classic James Bond video game "Goldeneye" for the Nintendo 64 will tell you just how helpful it was to find the body armor located in most levels. On the highest difficulty setting (007 mode), you couldn't get any armor. Yup, busting into extremely dangerous combat situations where at least 50 trained soldiers are firing on your most valuable agent at the same time, and he doesn't even get minimal protection. Brilliant strategy, MI5. I guess that's just how 007 rolls, but the repercussions of that are still being felt to this day.