Saturday, October 29, 2011

Cousin of kvass / SAT 10-29-11 / Part of Buchanan High faculty / Wang Lung's wife / Attachable bulletin / Mottke Thief novelist 1935 / Title character is Manrico / Mushroom supporter

Constructor: Barry C. Silk

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: xerostomia (20A: Aid in relieving xerostomia => GUM) —
Xerostomia [..] is the medical term for the subjective complaint of dry mouth due to a lack of saliva. Xerostomia is sometimes colloquially called pasties, cottonmouth, drooth, or doughmouth. Several diseases, treatments, and medications can cause xerostomia. It can also be exacerbated by smoking or drinking alcohol. (wikipedia)
• • •

Sometimes a guy just has to sleep (he says, as he begins typing his write-up at a much-later-than-usual 8:15 a.m.).

In terms of both quality of grid and cleverness of cluing, this is one of my favorite Barry Silk puzzles. I especially love the opening and closing Acrosses — thematically related and symmetrical. It's easy to love a puzzle when you get 1A: Coffee shop, often (WIFI HOT SPOT) instantly, and with no crosses in place. All those Downs (11 of 'em!) had their first letters in place right from the very beginning, which is like being jet-propelled into the grid (always helpful on a Saturday). And OK, so there were absurd obscure pop culture things like TEENA (11D: Mrs. Mulder on "The X-Files") and HONG (5D: "Wayne's World 2" actor James) and The NEW BEATS (24D: Pop trio with the 1964 hit "Bread and Butter," with "the") (none of which I'd heard of). In my mind, they were all made up for by MR. KOTTER, who is mainstream pop culture of the highest order and looks fantastic in the grid (36A: Part of the Buchanan High faculty). Also, he is culturally significant for popularizing the JEWFRO (a word that was in the NYT crossword puzzle once, so please, no offended letters).

[Dear lord, his voice ... I thought this was sung by a woman]

I have very little time left before this needs to be posted, so I'm going straight to Bullets—

  • 16A: Pianist Stein (IRA) — I'm surprised by how many things in this puzzle I just didn't know, given that I was able to finish it quickly, happily, with little struggle, in better-than-average time. Probably helps that my crossword literature muscle is pretty strong. ASCH and OLAN didn't even slow me down (53A: "Mottke the Thief" novelist, 1935 + 57D: Wang Lung's wife, in literature).
  • 60A: British big shot (NOB) — is this short of NABOB? They seem to mean the same thing.
  • 62A: Its title character is Manrico ("IL TROVATORE") — speaking of crossword muscle—I know very little about opera, but somehow this Verdi opera has come before my eyes enough times that I was able to piece it together from crosses without much trouble at all. 

  • 3D: Base in Anne Arundel County: Abbr. (FT. MEADE) — "FT" part was easy. After that, I just used crosses. Considered MEYER ... MEIER? ... MYERS?
  • 8D: Subj. of the Privacy Act of 1974 (SSN) — No idea, but SSN shows up in puzzles a lot, so why not?
  • 26D: Aircraft propellers without moving parts (RAMJETS) — yet another word I learned from crosswords.
  • 30D: Cake makeup for a feeder (SUET) — if it's in cake form or part of a feeder, it's probably SUET, a common crossword word.
  • 52D: Mushroom supporter (STIPE) — I weirdly struggle to come up with this. "It's not STEM but it kinda sounds like STEM ... STINT ... STAVE ...."
  • 63D: Italian TV channel (TRE) — a recycled clue, and a bad one. It's Italian for "three"—just clue it that way. Very few people in the U.S. watch *$&%ing Italian TV.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

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