White rapper with two #1 hits / SUN 7-7-13 / Neighbor of Dagwood in funnies / Mythical con man / John Belushi catchprase / God wounded by Diomedes in Iliad / Oldest desert in world / Siouan speaker / Old German duchy name
Sunday, July 7, 2013
Constructor: Joel Fagliano
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: "Bonus Features" — central theme answer (revealer) is "BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE" (70A: Infomercial line ... with a hint to 10 answers in this puzzle); ten answers appear to dead-end before they are over, but then continue off at a right angle with the supplemental letter string "-MORE":
- 1D: President who was not elected (SOMEHOW NOT FORD!!!!) (FILL/MORE)
- 6D: It's known for its big busts (MOUNT RUSH/MORE)
- 22D: Second or tenth, in a way (SOPHO/MORE)
- 10D: Bauxite, e.g. (ALUMINU/MORE)
- 61A: Sun spot? (BALTI/MORE) [the "Sun" is the newspaper]
- 65D: College near Philadelphia (SWARTH/MORE)
- 67D: "Go on ..." ("TELL ME MORE...")
- 108A: Minimalist's philosophy (LESS IS/MORE)
- 110A: Dean Martin classic ("THAT'S A/MORE")
- 106D: White rapper with two #1 hits (MACKLE/MORE)
Word of the Day: NAMIB (33D: Oldest desert in the world) —
The Namib is a coastal desert in southern Africa. The name Namib is of Nama origin and means "vast place". According to the broadest definition, the Namib stretches for more than 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) along the Atlantic coasts of Angola,Namibia, and South Africa, extending southward from the Carunjamba River in Angola, through Namibia and to the Olifants River in Western Cape, South Africa. The Namib's northernmost portion, which extends 450 kilometres (280 mi) from the Angola-Namibia border, is known as Moçâmedes Desert, while its southern portion approaches the neighboring Kalahari Desert. From the Atlantic coast eastward, the Namib gradually ascends in elevation, reaching up to 200 kilometres (120 mi) inland to the foot of the Great Escarpment. Annual precipitation ranges from 2 millimetres (0.079 in) in the most arid regions to 200 millimetres (7.9 in) at the escarpment, making the Namib the only true desert in southern Africa. Having endured arid or semi-arid conditions for roughly 55-80 million years, the Namib is also the oldest desert in the world. (wikipedia)
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HMORE, two that read EMORE, etc.), but that's just an oddity, not a fault. The puzzle was fun to solve, and knowing the theme definitely helped / was relevant to the solving process. Theme clues could be very vague because you have the bonus knowledge that they will end in -MORE (once you grok the theme, that is). Lots of varied theme material in a very clean grid. Theme execution is a clever literalization of a common expression. Good stuff all around. The only thing that bugged me—and by "bugged me" I mean "gave me very slight pause" or "made me wonder about what rules of appropriateness exist in crosswords"—was the clue on MACKLEMORE [White rapper with two #1 hits]. It is true that white rappers are less common than black rappers, and therefore "white" does delimit things in a very efficient way, but ... there have been enough white rappers that I don't think of their whiteness as relevant anymore. I mean, EMINEM is in the puzzle (93A: "Love the Way You Lie" rapper), and when's the last time he was clued as [White rapper...]? Looking through the cruciverb.com database, it looks like the answer is "never" (except for one time where lyrics containing "white" are used). The reference to race in this context made me wonder about standards and relevance. Imagine a hypothetical clue for Neil DeGrasse Tyson that started [Black astronomer...]. Most people, I think, rightly, would be like "WTF? Really? How is his blackness relevant?" Not sure how decision gets made on when pointing to race is relevant and when it's gratuitous. Anyway, again, to be clear, not offended—just thinking about race, which I know is something folks don't often like to do, but I thought maybe I could do it in some pretty low-key, non-inflammatory context.
Did you get bogged down anywhere? I got stuck in what seems to me, in retrospect, like a really weird place. I could not parse UP TO NO GOOD (25A: Like a mischief-maker) to save my life, primarily because I couldn't get the stupid little downs DIP (11D: Highway caution) and AMT (12D: Something punched into an A.T.M.: Abbr.), despite having the first two letters of both (!?). Multi-word phrases can be killer that way (see yesterday's "ASYLUM"-related answer). Your brain wants to make letters into one unit. Maybe two. Above that, it doesn't consider going unless you firmly nudge it. Beyond that, the only other real high and tight fastball was ECOTAGE (34D: Environmental extremists' acts). Sounds like an art project made of leaves and seeds and twigs. Has this word been in the puzzle before? Seems outer-spaceish to me. Is "eco-terrorism" no longer a thing? Too many syllables?
- 103A: John Belushi catchphrase ("BUT NO[oooooooooo]!"— I had slightly forgotten about this, and also had UTE at 104D: Siouan speaker (OTO), so I was headed toward something like "BUT TU?" (a variant of ET TU?).
- 126A: Mythical con man (LOKI) — good clue. The "mythical" gave it away for me.
- 129A: God wounded by Diomedes in the "Iliad" (ARES) — I'd like to claim I remember this clearly, but the truth is four-letter fighting Greek god = ARES, probably.
- 17D: ___ McGarry, chief of staff on "The West Wing" (LEO) — one of those shows that many of my peers watched religiously but I ... did not. Maybe I've seen one episode. It was fine. Didn't hate it. Just didn't watch it. I have heard LEO referred to enough that I should've got it easily. But didn't. Even after I had the L. And the E. :(
- 39D: Neighbor of Dagwood, in the funnies (ELMO) — no idea, though I will say that I doubt "in the funnies" is necessary. Where else does Dagwood exist? Are there other, non-funnies Dagwoods?
- 43D: Blog nuisances (TROLLS) — Ha ha. Ha. True. Ignore!
- 59D: Retailer that sells grasshoppers as food (PETCO) — cute, if fairly transparent, clue.
- 120D: Old German duchy name (SAXE) — only ever seen it in xwords. We call our dog "Duchy" all the time, though she spells it with a "t."