Jazz's Blake / TUE 9-24-13 / What gyroscope may provide / Dodge models until 1990 / Locale of 1864 Civil War blockade / Free-fall effect, briefly / Fifth-century pope with epithet Great / Late thumb-turning critic
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Constructor: Kevin Christian
Relative difficulty: Challenging (for a Tuesday)
THEME: "E.T." — several clues relate to the [circled letters], i.e. "E.T."
- 13A: With 59-Across, where [circled letters] came from (OUTER / SPACE)
- 14D: With 41-Down, composition of a trail followed by [circled letters] (REESE'S / PIECES)
- 23D: Best Original ___ (award for the film with [circled letters]) (SCORE)
- 35D: Costume for [circled letters] (GHOST)
- 20A: Child actress who appeared with [circled letters] (DREW BARRYMORE)
- 25A: Creator of [circled letters] (SPIELBERG)
- 45A: What [circled letters] wanted to do (PHONE HOME)
- 49A: Means of escape for [circled letters] (FLYING BICYCLE)
Word of the Day: MOBILE BAY (33D: Locale of an 1864 Civil War blockade) —
Mobile Bay is an inlet of the Gulf of Mexico, lying within the state of Alabama in theUnited States. Its mouth is formed by the Fort Morgan Peninsula on the eastern side and Dauphin Island, a barrier island on the western side. The Mobile River and Tensaw River empty into the northern end of the bay, making it an estuary. Several smaller rivers also empty into the bay: Dog River, Deer River, and Fowl River on the western side of the bay, and Fish River on the eastern side. Mobile Bay is the fourth largest estuary in the United States with a discharge of 62,000 cubic feet (1,800 m3) of water per second. (wikipedia)
• • •
THE MRS just looks strange. Then there's the AGIO/TOGAE/AGIRL/STAD nexus. Yikes. I've never heard of MOBILE BAY. In my haste, I wrote in MANILA BAY, which, sadly for me, shares many, many letters. Circled letters are particularly useless today since there are just two. I actually couldn't even see one of them when I scanned the grid for them. Harder to pick up when there are so few. ATE DINNER feels about as natural as DID LAUNDRY. Again, this is all very predictable—theme density goes up, fill cruddiness goes up. Generally. EER/EYER! STLEO! Gah. I FELL? Arbitrary. Odd. The clue on LUPE was Laughable. What the hell? (51D: "Little Latin ___ Lu" (1966 hit)).
Lastly, this is hilariously un-Tuesday in its theme and difficulty level. My time was more like a Wednesday, and not a fast Wednesday either. CALL for YELL. DINGDONG for DOORBELL. COMET for COMER. EAR DOCTOR? What am I, eight? Thumbs up for the movie (shout-out to EBERT), but thumbs kinda ... sideways for this puzzle. Fill is just too rough and weird.
Best wrong answer of the day—wanted SPLAT! for 10D: Free-fall effect, briefly (ZERO G).
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld