Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Retreat 1970s-'80s New York City club / WED 8-31-11 / Victim in Camus's Stranger / 1922 Physics Nobelist / Reindeer herder

Constructor: Peter A. Collins

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: Beach Boys hits — 5 of them

Word of the Day: AMORIST (37A: Smitten one) —
["Did you mean 'define amorous'?" No, I didn't]

  1. One dedicated to love, especially sexual love.
  2. One who writes about love.

[Latin amor, love; see amorous + -IST.]

• • •

Pretty straightforward Wednesday fare. Only trouble I had was navigating the grid—found the theme answer placement awkward on the split answers, what with the parts being far apart and the first part being on the right and second on the left. This is one of those themes that seems far too basic. Pick a band. Pick some hits that you can arrange symmetrically ... puzzle? Repeat using playwright / plays? Author / novels? Actor / movies? I don't really understand the puzzle's reason for being. It's an OK grid, though theme density leads to some unfortunate compromises, esp. in the SW, which made me wince. LAR IBO ABOU all scrunched together like that!? That's dangerous crosswordese density. But mostly, as I say, it was fine. Adequate. Here today, gone tomorrow. The best part — and the only thing separating this puzzle from USA Today fare — is the tripartite Down theme answer, "DON'T / WORRY / BABY." Helps that that is one of the very best songs the Beach Boys (or anyone) ever recorded.

Theme answers:
  • 10A: With 64-Across, 1963 Beach Boys hit ("IN MY / ROOM")

  • 17A: 1965 Beach Boys hit ("CALIFORNIA GIRLS")

  • 23A: With 49-Across, 1965 Beach Boys hit ("HELP ME / RHONDA")

  • 57A: 1963 Beach Boys hit ("LITTLE SAINT NICK") — did anyone else try to make LITTLE DEUCE COUPE fit? What about LITTLE SURFER GIRL? (not the actual title, I know) Bah!

  • 7D: With 30- and 53-Down, 1964 Beach Boys hit ("DON'T / WORRY / BABY")

Had a few missteps here and there. Went CAIRO (off the "A") instead of RABAT (62A: African capital), and ALGERIA instead of ALBANIA (that's a big miss) (45D: Neighbor of Montenegro). Also couldn't remember STINE or STYNE (65A: "Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!" composer), couldn't easily get to the vague MARKER from 25D: Surveyor's stake, typically, and (shockingly) couldn't place Ronsard's "Odes" in the right year (though, now that I think of it, I do know the century) (12D: Year of Ronsard's "Odes" => MDL).

  • 1A: Reindeer herder (LAPP) — a gimme! Finally, this crosswordy answer has become a gimme. I didn't even trip on the "LAPP or LEPP" issue (an issue I invented, as LEPP is not a thing).

  • 34A: 1922 Physics Nobelist (BOHR) — his name came up at dinner tonight as we were discussing crosswordy words that every constant solver just Knows. The conversation started with a discussion of EDINA (where my wife bought many bras this past week) (I'll let her tell you about it).

  • 52A: Minor player, so to speak (COG) — I like this clue / answer pair a lot. I just didn't get it ... until I did. That "C" took a while.
  • 27A: ___ Retreat (1970s-'80s New York City club) (PLATO'S) — really, Really surprised this passed the old Breakfast Test (it's a very famous swingers' club). About as good a clue as you're going to see for PLATO'S. Way better than ["___ Republic"].

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

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