Saturday, September 3, 2011

Beer served without artificial carbonation / SUN 9-4-11 / Hero of John Irving best seller / Word derived Latin uncia / Highway route from Dawson Creek

Constructor: Dana Delany and Matt Ginsberg

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging? I really don't know, 'cause I quit mid-solve.

THEME: "That's Disgusting" — "IC" (i.e. sound of "ICK") is added to familiar phrases (which sometimes does and sometimes doesn't involve changing the spelling thereof), creating wacky phrases, which are clued "?"-style.

Word of the Day: REAL ALE (2D: Beer served without artificial carbonation) —
Real ale is the name coined by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) in 1973 for a type of beer defined as "beer brewed from traditional ingredients, matured by secondary fermentation in the container from which it is dispensed, and served without the use of extraneous carbon dioxide". The heart of the definition is the maturation requirements. If the beer is unfiltered, unpasteurised and still active on the yeast, it is a real beer; it is irrelevant whether the container is a cask or a bottle. If the yeast is still alive and still conditioning the beer, it is "real". (wikipedia)

• • •

I have very little to say about this one because I quit about a quarter of the way through. It was OK when it was just an add-a-letter (or two letters) puzzle. Theme answers I had, like ISLE OF MANIC and CLASSIC ACTION SUIT, were kind of forced, but whaddyagonnado? It's Sunday. [interlude: ISLE OF MANIC what!?! "MANIC" is an adjective! ... but moving on ...]. But I had what looked like gibberish for 22A: Heads-up in Ireland? No idea about several of the crosses. REAL ALE? REALly? EEW!?! That's the spelling!?!? (6D: "Ick!") I had EEK at first because I didn't realize EEW was a thing. Had LTD for LLC (5D: Cousin of Inc.), barely remembered ANA (7D: Tennis's Ivanovic), etc. And then when I hacked (and I mean hacked) my way through it all, the resulting answer was GAELIC WARNING. "But ... what's a GAEL WARNING???!?" I look it up. It is some Irish music band.

"But ... they can't possibly be famous enough to be the base phrase for a theme answer. This ... They ... They can't possibly mean GALE WARNING, can they?" All theme answers I had, to that point, were simple +IC answers. No spelling changes. Also, GALE WARNING is not that familiar a phrase to me—no more so than [insert natural disaster here] WARNING. I was already finding the fill a little wobbly and the cluing a little precious and then GAEL (ugh) WARNING happened and I just quit. For the first time ... possibly for the first time since I started blogging. I mean, I've quit puzzles in the middle before—they just haven't been NYT puzzles. Turns out other theme answers in this puzzle have spelling changes too. Huh. Oh well. Don't care. I can live without having to have written in ECRUS or ISTS or TELEO- (66D: Complete: Prefix) or (dear lord in heaven) ARS (48D: Married couple?). That's how you spell out the letter "R"!?! How would anyone know? IC.

Theme answers:
  • 22A: Heads-up in Ireland? (GAELIC WARNING)

  • 29A: Superman's attire, e.g.? (CLASSIC ACTION SUIT)

  • 40A: Farm pails? (RUSTIC BUCKETS)

  • 64A: "I feel the earth move under my feet," e.g.? (KING LYRIC)

  • 70A: Fancy garb for Caesar? (FINE TUNIC)

  • 83A: Antisthenes, notably? (ORIGINAL CYNIC) — again, glad I didn't have to solve that one. Pick a "cynic" that I believe that you actually know and have heard of.

  • 98A: Something talked about on "Today"? (TOPIC OF THE MORNING)

  • 111A: Extremely occult? (GREATLY MYSTIC) — "greatly miss" is your base phrase? Wow. OK.

  • 3D: Vacation spot that's crazily busy? (THE ISLE OF MANIC)

  • 51D: Prank involving a hammer and nails? (CARPENTER ANTIC)

Here are some proper nouns that maybe you knew and maybe you didn't:
  • 13A: Hero of a John Irving best seller (T.S. GARP) — the "T.S." part being less well known than the GARP part.

  • 19A: Beverage whose logo was once the bottom half of a woman's legs (NEHI) — interesting. One thing this puzzle did have was a raft of interesting trivia clues. See also: ARP (105A: Surrealist who avoided the draft by writing the day's date in every space on his induction paperwork); "ALIENS" (52D: 1986 film shot partly in a decommissioned power plant); and INCH (80D: Word derived from the Latin "uncia," meaning "one-twelfth").

  • 20A: Actress who co-starred in "Havana," 1990 (LENA OLIN) — she's in crosswords all the time, but doesn't really have a definitive, go-to, recognizable star turn that a clue can rely on.

  • 27A: Australia's Great ___ Basin (ARTESIAN) — no idea.

  • 47A: City raided in "Godzilla Raids Again" (OSAKA) — that is a Great movie title. Now *that* is a play on words I can get behind.

  • 50A: ___ Highway (route from Dawson Creek) (ALCAN) — Dawson Creek the TV show, or ... whatever, it didn't help me get ALCAN.

  • 57A: Boxer on season four of "Dancing With the Stars" (LAILA ALI) — So, just this weekend, I've been expected to be familiar with "America's Best Dance Crew" and "Dancing With the Stars." I can't wait for next Sunday's "Toddlers & Tiaras" clue.

  • 120A: "The War Is Over" writer/singer (OCHS) — Phil. Good name to know, crosswordwise. Well before my time.
Anything else? Not really. 9D: End of July by the sound? (LONG I) — the astonishing convolution of that clue pretty much says it all. Why isn't the clue [Sound at the end of July?]. WHY!? OK, I'm really stopping now. I'm kinda absorbed in the "Toddlers & Tiaras" clip now anyway ...

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

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