Arthur his family in Hoop Dreams / WED 2-20-13 / Repeated cry in Ramones Blitzkrieg Bop / Kazakh border lake / Classico rival / Burmese P.M.
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Constructor: John Farmer
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: BOOK — circled letters in corners spell out "BOOK"; puzzle note reads: "The answer to each starred clue is a compound word or a familiar two-word phrase. A certain four-letter word (spelled out clockwise by the circled squares) [i.e. BOOK] can follow the first half and precede the second half of each of these answers, in each case to complete another compound word or familiar two-word phrase."
Word of the Day: U NU (15A: Burmese P.M.) —
U Nu (Burmese: [...] also Thakin Nu; 25 May 1907 – 14 February 1995) was a leading Burmese nationalist and political figure of the 20th century. He was the first Prime Minister of Burma under the provisions of the 1947 Constitution of the Union of Burma, from 4 January 1948 to 12 June 1956, again from 28 February 1957 to 28 October 1958, and finally from 4 April 1960 to 2 March 1962.
• • •Weird. This is one of those puzzles that seems quite competently made, but that I did not enjoy solving at all. There are a gajillion theme answers + the BOOK thing, which is impressive, from a purely architectural standpoint. Given that density, the fill is actually pretty good. But stuff like U NU (which I think was a big gimme for enthusiasts before my time, but which, thankfully, has been virtually exterminated in the Shortz era) and AGEES (?) (25D: Arthur and his family in "Hoop Dreams") and KATS and INKA and KOH (22D: ___-i-noor diamond) still hurt. Worst was SLC, which I couldn't make any sense of. I figured I had an error. I didn't know if the "capital" in the clue was maybe ... a monetary denomination? Wasn't til UTAH finally went in that I realized that I did indeed have NARCO spelled right, and that SLC was Salt Lake City. I've heard the term BLUE JACKET, but had no idea it meant simply "Sailor." So this was just ... someone else's puzzle. Maybe a much older person. Lastly, I am not a big fan of having to read a lot of $%#@ at the end to figure out what the theme is. Also, never heard of "Vanity BOOK." That must've meant something to someone at some time. Just nothing to me today.
- 17A: *Approval indicators (CHECK MARKS)
- 21A: *Ban (BLACKLIST)
- 39A: *December 31 (YEAR END)
- 55A: *What a "forever" stamp lacks (FACE VALUE)
- 64A: *Union supporter? (MATCHMAKER)
- 11D: *Magazine with an annual Hollywood issue ("VANITY FAIR")
- 28D: *Sailor (BLUE JACKET)
There were some lovely and original answers and clues here and there. Loved everything about HEY HO (31A: Repeated cry in the Ramones' "Blitzkrieg Bop"), mostly because it quite literally forced me to remember the song, tune and all. Had to sing it to myself to remember the answer. Somehow the clue on ARC also struck me as fresh (35A: Shape of the Aleutian Islands, on a map), or at least thoughtful / creative. Don't know what "judokas" are, but I know what "judo" is, so DOJOS clue was both colorful and gettable (48A: Places for judokas). Less happy with OSH, both for just ... being OSH ... and then for being clued in a cross-referenced clue (71A: City ESE of the 10-Down). Pro tip: don't tangle your crap fill up in cross-rerferences. Just makes it more annoying. Also, what the hell is up with the clue on KOBE (59A: 2007-08 N.B.A. M.V.P., to fans)? You know why "fans" call him that? 'Cause that is actually his name. KG, K-ROD, DR.K—these are what sports stars are "to fans." I'm trying to imagine "MICHAEL" or "STEVE" clued this way, and can't.