Declaration after Hallelujah / FRI 2-8-13 / Political blogger Klein / Bramble with edible purple fruit / Literature Nobelist Kertesz / Religious leader with pet elephant / Jack regarded as object of devotion / Like orthorhombic crystals / Mascot since 1916 / Spanish Main crosser / Illinois home of John Deere pavilion / Image of 1960 hit by Safaris / Curia body assisting pope
Friday, February 8, 2013
Constructor: Barry C. Silk
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
Word of the Day: "Hallelujah, I'M A BUM" (44D: Declaration after "Hallelujah!") —
"Hallelujah, I'm a Bum" (Roud 7992) is an American folk song that responds with humorous sarcasm to unhelpful moralizing about the circumstance of being a hobo. (wikipedia)
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Wow, normally I love Barry Silk themelesses, but this was one of the least pleasant themeless experiences I've had in a Long time. Almost nothing lovely, and a whole lot of "?!?!?!" It was only somewhat hard at first, but then there was the SW corner, and ... first of all, the clue on ALMIGHTY DOLLAR made it virtually impossible (for me) to get. I had -TYDOLLAR and still had No idea. "Jack"? Ugh. I mean, I have vaguely heard of that term for "money" (i.e. scratch, i.e. MOOLA, just above it, ugh), but ... no, no real help. To my credit / embarrassment, I sort of kind of remembered the IMRE guy (44A: 2002 Literature Nobelist Kertész), but was Not certain and couldn't get anything but HELIXES (which I spelled HELICES, of course) to confirm it. "Image of A GIRL"????? (51D: "Image of ___" (1960 hit by the Safaris)) Uh, no. And recall, I listened to a Lot of oldies radio as a teenager. Still, nothing. Curia ROMANA?! (46D: Curia ___ (body assisting the pope)) Seriously, these answers are almost (*almost*) funny in terms of how obscure / out of my wheelhouse they are. Laughable. The most laughable, however, came at 44D: Declaration after "Hallelujah!" Here's what I had for sure: -MA-UM. Pretty sure first letter was "I" but was willing to entertain "O" (!?). Were the orthorhombic crystals (seriously, hilariously out of my wheelhouse) DIAXIAL or BIAXIAL? I couldn't have told you. So ... Me: "OMADUM? IMADUM? IMABUM? Wait, I'M A BUM?! Noooo...." In the end, that is what I went with, *only* because it formed words that I recognized. Not in that order, but I recognized them as words in the English language, and that was enough. Thus I was quite honestly stunned when I clicked "Done" and the applet accepted my grid. Really!? "I"M A BUM"!? A partial from a 100-yr-old folk song!? In retrospect, I don't think I would've gotten anywhere in that corner if I hadn't had an inkling about IMRE or hadn't known MOLINE (45D: Illinois home of the John Deere pavilion) was a place in Illinois. That is a very, very thin thread from which to hang one's puzzle success. Yipes.
Problems here go beyond one comically weird / dated corner. There's just not a lot of answers to love. Then there's stuff like COIGN (?) and DEWBERRY (!?!) (8D: Bramble with edible purple fruit). RESORT TO crossing ALIEN TO. It's all a little too to. Too two tu tutu. Mainly, it just wasn't entertaining, anywhere. Weird that in a puzzle where I struggled so much, I had no trouble with AZIMUTH (1A: Heavenly measurement) or STENTOR (neither of which I think of as a common word). In fact, I had this weird moment about 1/3 of the way in to the grid where I went HOLE UP to PEAK to KERR (47A: Michael Jordan teammate Steve) to RADARS to STENTOR in about ten seconds. Just rushed diagonally right across the grid to the SE corner. I thought this boded well. I was mistaken.
- 19A: 1964 album that was #1 for 11 weeks ("MEET THE BEATLES") — this was as easy as ALMIGHTY DOLLAR was hard.
- 21A: Political blogger Klein (EZRA) — I think I've seen him fill in for people on MSNBC from time to time. Wherever I've seen him, he was a gimme.
- 42A: Capital on the Sava River (ZAGREB) — not as hard as you might think when you have the -REB already in place before you ever see the clue.
- 54A: Religious leader with a pet elephant (LEO X) — if you absolutely must have a random LEO in your puzzle, you should give him a clue this awesome. Every time.
- 63A: What might be treated with vitamin A megadoses (MEASLES) — the beauty of vaccines is I *don't* have to know this stuff.
- 6D: Like the Mets in every season from 1962 to 1965 (TENTH) — a very tough, very original TENTH clue.
- 37D: Mascot since 1916 (MR. PEANUT) — Of all the pantsless mascots, he is the creepiest.
- 43D: Spanish Main crosser (GALLEON) — carrying doubloons, no doubt.