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Friday, September 9, 2011

Keyboardist Saunders / SAT 9-10-11 / 2002 horror sequel / Pou vantage point / Mongolian for hero / Gridiron cues / Perfect Peace novelist

Constructor: David Quarfoot

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none


Word of the Day: ARRAN (46A: Island near Ayr) —
Arran or the Isle of Arran (Scots Gaelic: Eilean Arainn) is the largest island in the Firth of Clyde, Scotland, and with an area of 432 square kilometres (167 sq mi) is the seventh largest Scottish island. It is in the unitary council area of North Ayrshire and the 2001 census had a resident population of 5,058. Although commonly associated with the Hebrides, with which it shares many cultural and physical similarities, these latter islands are located to the north and west beyond Kintyre. Arran is mountainous and has been described as a "geologist's paradise". (wikipedia)
• • •

A very entertaining puzzle, though one that was slightly ruined at the end by the JASON X / XY PLANE crossing (48D: 2002 horror sequel + 65A: Setting of many plots). Didn't like it. I understand what an XY PLANE is, but if I've heard it, it's been 20+ years. And JASON X is obscure and odd. Arguably, the Roman numeral really limited the options at that crossing, so ... fair enough. But I still found it yucky, which, again, is a shame, because the rest of the puzzle was pretty nice. Actually, the puzzle felt relatively easy much of the time. Some slow patches, but then some very fast patches. Felt almost like cheating when I got "LA BAMBA" so quickly (1A: Only song on Rolling Stone's "500 Greatest Songs of All Time" list that is not sung in English). Other songs that entered my mind: "99 Luftballoons," "Eres Tu," "Der Komissar" ... I think that's it. "LA BAMBA" made the NW very tractable. Had trouble rounding the corner into the SW, with -OVER and -AN not helping me much at 38A: Transfer and 46A: Island near Ayr, respectively. Tiny crap names like MERL (5D: Keyboardist Saunders who played with the Grateful Dead) and UNU (54A: 1940s-'60s world leader) and ZAC (29A: Country music's ___ Brown Band) and ARIE (37A: First name in auto racing) and then ... whatever STO is (ugh) (59D: Pou ___ (vantage point)) were all giving me minor fits. Got every letter of every one of those from crosses. But then I'd luck into something like H.G. WELLS (got it off the "S") (26D: Writer on whose work Woody Allen's "Sleeper" is loosely based) or VERANDAS (off the "VE-") (36D: Balustraded locales, often), and that seemed to more than make-up for the nettlesome tiny name obstacles.



Ended with two blank squares—the aforementioned missing "X," and the first letter in LOST CAT. I had OSTCAT and honestly didn't have a clue for many seconds (20A: Subject on a wanted poster). Clue is bad, as the word "wanted" would never appear on such a poster, so it's only a "wanted" poster in a "?"-clue sort of way. By this def. of "wanted," virtually every poster is a "wanted" poster. Why else do you post a poster unless you "want" something. Part of me liked the "aha" moment I got when the answer dawned on me, and part of me was annoyed at the overly-clever cluing. Ambivalence!

Bullets:
  • 23A: "A God in Ruins" novelist (URIS) — off the "S," giving me immediate access to LACE-UPS (1D: Some boots)

  • 47A: It ended in 1947 (RAJ) — pretty sure I put "Gandhi" in my Netflix queue just today. No ... I set a reminder so TCM would email me when "Gandhi" was coming on. I'm on something of an '80s movies kick at the moment.
  • 64A: Misters abroad (SEÑORES) — this was the fattest gimme in the puzzle. I wasn't *sure* it was right, but it was certainly my first (immediate) guess, and it panned out.
  • 2D: Name on the highest award of the American Society of Plant Taxonomists (ASA GRAY) — so, if nothing else, I learned that the American Society of Plant Taxonomists exists.
  • 3D: Diamond handler? (BAT GIRL) — very clever clue. I just finished reading BATGIRL #1 earlier in the evening. Part of D.C.'s big "The New 52" reboot of their entire line-up. BATGIRL is Barbara Gordon again. And she can walk now. I realize I'm talking to like five of you right now. So be it.
  • 9D: Wolf pack member (U-BOAT) — should've been a fat gimme. Instead, off the "U," I wrote in UTAHN (!?!?!?!?!).
  • 55D: Bergman's last role (MEIR) — a much more famous "world leader" than that UNU person.
  • 6D: Mongolian for "hero" (BATOR) — as in Ulan BATOR. "Ulan" = "red."
  • 44D: "Poetry makes nothing happen" writer (W.H. AUDEN) — it's a great, ambiguous line.
  • 56D: Response to the '08 financial crisis (TARP) — remember? When everyone got scared and hid under a TARP? Dark days...
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

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