Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Classic 1921 play set partly in factory / THU 10-27-11 / 1957-91 King of Norway / Helps for autobiographers / Citiy near Ben Gurion airport / Glace after thawing

Constructor: Kurt Mueller

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: GHOST in the Machine — a GHOST rebus, with four "GHOST" squares and a central Across answer that reads "HAUNTED" (38A: Having spirit?)

Word of the Day: RADDLE (32D: Make by interlacing) —
v. t. (răd"d'l)
To interweave or twist together.
• • •
Despite some rough fill around the edges, I quite enjoyed this one. Thus ends a four-puzzle slide the likes of which I hadn't seen in the NYT in a while. I was getting a little worried. This one has a nice central idea, with entertaining, lively theme answers. Those giant corners mean that some of the shorter crossing material is a bit ugly (e.g. HAEC, OOO, EERY, AUT (!?!?!), and virtually every Across answer in the NE). But the long answers are splendid, and uncovering the GHOSTs was actually fun. Rebus actually made things easier than normal today—there are only so many GHOST phrases, so once you have one GHOST answer in place, the cross comes almost instantly. Took me a little while to pick up the theme—I actually traversed the entire grid from NW to SE before uncovering my first GHOST at "[GHOST]BUSTERS"—but once I had it, I tore through the puzzle from there on out. Would've been under 5 if I could have remembered how to spell LHASA (61A: Tibetan terrier=>LHASA APSO). I always want to go with LLASA, which is some kind of conflation of LLAMA and LLANO, I think. Wrong continent on both counts. Anyway, fixed my mistake and still came in with a very speedy time, just over 5.

Theme answers:
  • PALE AS A [GHOST] / [GHOST] TOWN (8D: Result of a boom and bust, maybe)
  • GIVE UP THE [GHOST] / MARLEY'S [GHOST] (47A: Fictional character who says "I wear the chain I forged in life")
  • [GHOST] WRITERS (27A: Helps for autobiographers) / [GHOST] OF A CHANCE
  • HOLY [GHOST] / "[GHOST]BUSTERS" (69A: 1984 film whose soundtrack had a #1 hit with the same title)
There were two words I can't remember ever seeing before today: RADDLE and LIPARI (3D: Italy's ___ Islands). Other than that, everything else was fairly familiar. Kind of magical how nicely WOODY ALLEN (the filmmaker) fits alongside ROGER EBERT (the film critic) (28D: Who wrote "It's not that I'm afraid to die, I just don't want to be there when it happens" + 29D: "Life Itself: A Memoir" autobiographer, 2011). I love BEANIE BABY for its fantastic datedness (11D: Toy collectible of the late '90s). Grown people lost their damned minds collecting and selling and trying to make fortunes on the BEANIE BABY craze. "The craze lasted through 1999 and slowly declined after the Ty company's announcement that they would no longer be making Beanie Babies and made a bear called "The End"" (wikipedia). "The End" came in two models—noose-around-neck or gun-to-head.

No GHOSTs in "R.U.R." (Classic 1921 play set partly in a factory). Just robots.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

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