British critic Kenneth who created Oh Calcutta / FRI 7-12-13 / Daisies like botanically / Co that introduced Dungeons Dragons / Portmanteau food brand / Relatives of guinea pigs
Friday, July 12, 2013
Constructor: Matt Ginsberg
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (Easy-Medium for me, but I think I'm off-norm today)
THEME: Advice for DRIVERS (44D: Those who should follow the advice in the sounded-out answers to the five starred clues) — that advice: "KEY PURE ICE UNDER OWED!" (ID EST, "Keep your eyes on the road")
Word of the Day: Kenneth TYNAN (33A: British critic Kenneth who created "Oh! Calcutta!") —
Making his initial impact as a critic at The Observer (1954–58, 1960–63), he praised Osborne's Look Back in Anger (1956), and encouraged the emerging wave of British theatrical talent. In 1963, Tynan was appointed as the new National Theatre Company's literary manager. An opponent of theatre censorship, he was the first person to say 'fuck' on British television, which was very controversial at the time. Later in his life, he settled in California where he resumed his writing career. (wikipedia)
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CRANK CASEs (17A: What gets the shaft?), and TYNAN and DICOTS were like "None Shall Pass!" (6D: Daisies and the like, botanically), so even though I flew through most of the rest of the grid, that corner was spotty and wouldn't budge. So I decided OK, I'll try to reverse-engineer this theme and use the answer to get the clue. Looked at OWED, figured the "advice" ended in "road," looked at PURE and ICE, and knew instantly (and Finally) that the [*Basketball area] was KEY. "K" in KEY instantly got me JACKPOT (1D: Something good to hit)—I had the "J" from JUST A [blank], which was JUST A guess at that point (1A: "Not much at all for me, please" => JUST A DROP)—and then the NW fell quickly. And that was that.
UNDER is a pretty poor "on the," but otherwise I think it's a clever little theme, neatly executed. Rather too much in the old-school dreck department. I figure you get like 10 crosswordese points to use up in any given puzzle, and some words are worth more points than others. LEU (63D: Money of Romania) and ESNES (35D: Feudal thralls) together burn about 8 of those. But most of the rest of the crosswordesish fill (TSR, T-NUTS, ETERNE, etc.) is not too bad. One of the keys to my relatively quick time today (under 7) was getting GENTLE SEX and KLEENEX in quick (instant) succession. That NE corner went down fast, and success up there trickled down to the SE, where I found DRIVERS without much trouble. Also, SWISS ALPS was pretty easy to turn up and I got WAR-TORN right away off the "W" (I refuse to acknowledge that the answer is actually WAR-WORN, as that is a silly adjective no one has ever used ever) (WAR-TORN googles 100x stronger than WAR-WORN).
Back-to-back NO-DOZ puzzles (53D: Cramming aid). Weird. T-NUTS is STUNT spelled backward. Less weird, but more interesting. I think I'm done here.