Friday, October 14, 2011

Island state in 1964 merger / SAT 10-15-11 / 1973 Nobel Peace Prize decliner Le Duc / Bibelot / Waveform maximum

Constructor: Joon Pahk

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: Leon CZOLGOSZ (35D: Leon ___, McKinley's assassin) —
Leon Frank Czolgosz (Polish pronunciation: [ˈt͡ʂɔlɡɔʂ]; May 1873 – October 29, 1901; also used surname "Nieman" and variations thereof) was the assassin of U.S. President William McKinley. // In the last few years of his life, he claimed to have been heavily influenced by anarchists such as Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman. [...]
Czolgosz believed there was a great injustice in American society, an inequality which allowed the wealthy to enrich themselves by exploiting the poor. He concluded that the reason for this was the structure of government itself. Then he learned of a European crime which changed his life: On July 29, 1900, King Umberto I of Italy had been shot dead by anarchist Gaetano Bresci. Bresci told the press that he had decided to take matters into his own hands for the sake of the common man. // The assassination shocked and galvanized the American anarchist movement, and Czolgosz is thought to have consciously imitated Bresci. New York police officer Joseph Petrosino believed that the same group had targeted President McKinley, but his warnings were useless, because McKinley ignored them. (wikipedia)
• • •

They're not booing. They're saying "Boo-urns! Boo-urns!" I mean, they're saying "Joooooon!"

The month of Joontober continues as "Jeopardy" champ Joon Pahk brings us his latest puzzle, a very tough Saturday themeless. Themelessish ... the KNICKKNACK (1A: Bibelot) / "KNOCKKNOCK" (65A: 1940 cartoon in which Woody Woodpecker debuted) answers provide the mildest of aesthetic structures. Speaking of mild, I found this puzzle mildly brutal, due almost entirely to a pile of obscure foreignisms. I think I've heard of PASHTO before (47D: Afghani tongue), but putting it right next to the deeply arcane ALTAIC seemed perverse (48D: Language family including Mongolian). You'd think that if you had to put in some recherche language terms, you'd give them some elbow room. Do you know THO? (19A: 1973 Nobel Peace Prize decliner Le Duc ___) I don't know THO. No THO-knower, I. As for CZOLGOSZ, a chipmunk scurrying across my keyboard would've had better chance of getting that one than I did. That's a name that might make a constructor drool, but ... it's not gonna give anyone but the constructor any joy. The constructor and presidential history buffs, maybe.

Since when is the Minotaur an OGRE? Is that a metaphor, like "that Minotaur sure is a mean guy! What an OGRE!" Shrek is an OGRE. The Minotaur is the half-man, half-bull spawn of Pasiphae and some bull she seduced with the cow costume she had made by Daedalus. Yeah, the Minotaur's mean and grumpy and eats Athenian children, but OGRE is a *$&@ing stretch. Also, I thought OUTRÉ just meant weird or unusual, not [Singular]. Most of the rest of the cluing was just hard, not unfair. I'm embarrassed by how long it took me to get UNCLE SAM (13D: Steely-gazed pointer), even after I had UNCLE S in place. For some reason Uncle Fester got in my head and wouldn't get out. Also embarrassed at how long it took me to get CHEETOS when I had -ETOS in place (35A: Frito-Lay product). DORETOS??! Ugh, no. That SW corner was, by far, the toughest for me. Next hardest was the area around DISARMS (39A: Sets at ease), mostly because I didn't have DISARMS. I had ASSURES (which has an unfortunate number of letters in common with DISARMS).

 My friend and fellow constructor ... we'll call him Kwest ... just wrote me: "Uh... I believe there was an error in today's (Saturday's) puzzle. 23-Down is empirically false" (23D: Funny George => LOPEZ). "Would've accepted BURNS or COSTANZA." I added GOBEL.

TINO was my first answer in the grid (16A: 1997 Home Run Derby champion Martinez). ESSEN followed shortly thereafter (25A: Germany's University of Duisburg-___). No idea about ZANZIBAR (40A: Island state in a 1964 merger), but got it by virtue of the very helpful (if not terribly funny) Crest Cavity Creeps boxMr. LOPEZ. Not all the answers were clued Maleska-era-trivia-style. There was some cuteness, like 50A: What a mail carrier might use in self-defense? (LANCE) and 63A: Malady that typically worsens in the spring (SENIORITIS). I don't know my NATO phonetic alphabet from a hole in the ground, so KILO was tough to come up with. [Waveform maximum] sounds like a brand name of bra to me, but I was somehow able to put together CREST. Encountered BABAR today in a very nice piece about the 50th anniversary of "The Phantom Tollbooth" in the New Yorker. I see that this is irrelevant, as the "hero of children's lit" in question is TIN TIN, not BABAR (61D: When repeated, hero of children's lit). Alright then. . . and so to bed.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

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