Summation symbol in math / SUN 2-17-13 / 1968 movie directed by Paul Newman / Island SW of Majorca / Post-1968 tennis / Post-1858 rule / Rank below group captain / Bridge dividing San Marco San Polo districts / Old West casino game / Fictional Indiana town where Parks Recreation is set / Month after Av / Body of water on Uzbek border
Sunday, February 17, 2013
Constructor: Ian Livengood and J.A.S.A. Crossword Class
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: "Mark My Words" — five squares work as punctuation marks in the Acrosses and letter strings in the Downs
- C.S.I.: NY / COLONEL MUSTARD
- THE IN-CROWD / BALDERDASH
- "RACHEL, RACHEL" / WING COMMANDER [Rank below group captain]
- "FROST/NIXON" / SLASHER FILM
- DR. DRE / EDWARDIAN PERIOD
A in which the players lay wagers on the top card of the dealer's pack.
[Alteration of PHARAOH.]
Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/faro-1#ixzz2L7MvEf4W
• • •
I have this weird sense of déjà vu with this one—seems like I've seen punctuation mark puzzles before, maybe even from Ian himself (???). No matter, this one works nicely, and the rebus squares are symmetrical (!?), which you almost never see in a rebus. Usually too hard to do, and usually makes rebus too easy to solve. Not today, though. Never occurred to me to look for symmetry, so the symmetry feature didn't help me at all. Took me waaaaay too long to figure out the theme. I just couldn't figure out why there was a blank in "THE IN [blank] CROWD," and because of that mystery square, I also could Not get up into the north. Clues on everything were supremely unhelpful. BIG BAT took me forever, and I'm a baseball fan. Clues on L.A. LAKER (23A: Magic, once) and ARAL SEA (19A: Body of water on the Uzbek border) were not at all obvious. GALA (8D: Big do) could've been AFRO or BASH. Couldn't remember the first two letters of ARLEN's name (20D: "Blues in the Night" composer Harold). So that area was Rough. Finally figured out the gimmick way over at "CSI: NY," and after that, the puzzle got much easier, but never Easy. I was gonna call foul on "CSI: NY" because I thought there were periods in the abbreviations, but looks like there isn't a period to be seen on either side of the colon. I've never even heard of "RACHEL, RACHEL," so that part of the grid was also rough, but no matter—it's fine to struggle sometimes, and the fill here is mostly very good and even entertaining in parts. Weak in the ENSILE-over-OSE area, but really strong in the SE, where ALEX TREBEK wears FAKE FUR to IBIZA (what a diva!) (122A: Island SW of Majorca), and the NW, where MONEYPENNY and "IRONSIDE" create a nice crime/spy fiction nexus.
Crosswordese Experience helped a bunch today, as IONIA (2D: Coastal Anatolian region) slid right in, ENSILE was no problem at all, ELUL (54D: Month after Av) was virtually second nature, and KIRS (115D: Cocktails with crème de cassis) felt like an old friend (even though the last three are words I know *only* from crosswords). Of course there was the little matter of crossing crosswordese wires at RAJ (120D: Post-1858 rule) (I went with HAJ), and then needing almost every cross for ZERO G. Always happy to see a "Parks & Rec" clue—I forget sometimes that PAWNEE is fake, since I know more about it than any other place in Indiana (86A: Fictional Indiana town where "Parks & Recreation" is set). I liked the clue [Gotham-bound luggage letters] (LGA) both because I love Batman and because I will be Gotham-bound myself in about three weeks to attend yet another American Crossword Puzzle Tournament (ACPT). YE GODS! I haven't made my hotel reservations yet. Gotta go.
For those who missed my Thursday announcement: "American Red Crosswords"—a collection of 24 original puzzles that I put together to benefit the Red Cross's Disaster Relief Fund—is available for download now from americanredcrosswords.blogspot.com. Puzzles were edited by Patrick Blindauer. Will Shortz wrote the introduction. And many, many big-time constructors donated their talents. So go donate to the Red Cross, download some puzzles, and enjoy the weekend.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld