Thursday, September 1, 2011

Cartoon busman Mann / FRI 9-2-11 / 1968 title role Vanessa Redgrave / Kandahar cash / Cousin of canvasback / Hook accompanier / Dust-laden winds

Constructor: Tim Croce

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: Roh TAE-woo (5D: South Korea's Roh ___ Woo) —
Roh Tae-woo (Korean pronunciation: [no tʰɛ.u]; born December 4, 1932 in Daegu, South Korea), is a former ROK Army general and politician. He was the 13th president of South Korea (1988–1993). (wikipedia)

• • •

Felt tougher than it was, perhaps because I thought it would be pretty damned easy when I saw the grid layout. Stacked 15s are red meat for constant solvers. I don't eat actual red meat, but you get my drift—it's the stuff that makes our mouths water. You just need a few short crosses, usually, and the 15s start to fall. And when they fall, they tend to fall fast. Well, that didn't exactly happen here, at first. Had nothing for certain, then went with SILT and LSAT and EURAIL, but then couldn't get anywhere. OTTO and WAS and ILER were too far apart, it seemed to help me much with the 15s. Then I just ignored the crosses and decided to think hard about phrases that could fit 17A: Continue cordially despite differences. PART COMPANY something something? ... no ... AGREE TO DISAGREE. Yes. Bam. That got things moving. Still, tough cluing on things like SMEE and SHORE and OSSO and AFGHANIS (!) kept me from really flying.

Bottom half was a bit easier, though I did not flow smoothly down there. Kept having to reboot. Got a smattering of answers like DANTE, ARFS, ARP, ETC, and TRE, but again they were all too far apart to do me much good. Ended up lucking into AS IT WERE because I had (wrong) NEWER at 55A: Not as experienced. That ended up being RAWER, but the "W" gave me the traction I needed for AS IT WERE. Swung back up to the middle to (finally) get D'ARTAGNAN, which gave me all the traction I needed to start taking apart the bottom stack of 15s. Still (!) clues on stuff like RING and LARD provided enough resistance to keep me from blowing through the grid. Which is fine. It's Friday after all. In the end, my time was pretty normal for a Friday. Last thing into the grid was the fix from NEWER to RAWER.

  • 16A: Thing rolled in a classroom (EDUCATIONAL FILM) — cluing feels forced here. I get that one "rolls" a film in some contexts, but this didn't feel like one of them. Feels more newsroomy. I had EDUCATIONAL and could not figure out what could possibly follow.

  • 18A: Cousin of a canvasback (TEAL) — so it's a duck then. Alrighty.

  • 23A: Agricultural Hall of Fame locale: Abbr. (KAN.) — the whole damned state feels too big for the "locale" of what I imagine is a single building.

  • 36A: 1968 title role for Vanessa Redgrave (ISADORA) — Duncan, I'm guessing. I have no idea. Yes. Duncan. I had this spelled ISIDORE at first, thanks to the tenacious influence of ISIDORE of Seville.

  • 57A: Earth as organism (GAIA) — I knew this was some kind of "mother earth" name, but "organism?" News to me.

  • 9D: Piquant sandwich base (ONION ROLL) — technically accurate, I guess, but I can't imagine anyone's describing an ONION ROLL as "piquant." Also, I don't think of bread as a "base." You order X *on* [some kind of bread product], thus the "base" / foundation of any sandwich is the stuff *between* the bread. Sandwich judgment has been rendered!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

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