Thursday, October 20, 2011

Poisonous gilled mushrooms / FRI 10-21-11 / What Surgeon's Photo supposedly depicts / Prelapsarian home / 1976 Broadway musical based on Henry VIII's life

Warning—If you get your puzzle online, make sure you download the .pdf format (directly from the NYT's "Crosswords & Games" page). The *real* Friday puzzle (by Patrick Berry) is available online *exclusively* as a .pdf file. The AcrossLite and applet files are a different puzzle entirely.

Constructor: Patrick Berry

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: Crossing over —some Down and Across answers wrap around, or "cross over" to the other side of the grid; three grid-spanning answers have two clues each—one for the strange phrases that start on the far left of the grid, and another for familiar phrases that start somewhere in the middle of the grid and make sense only if you read them as wrapping around, or "crossing over"

Word of the Day: "REX" (37D: 1976 Broadway musical based on Henry VIII's life) —
Rex is a musical with music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick and libretto by Sherman Yellen, based on the life of King Henry VIII. [...] Following tryout engagements in Delaware, Washington and Boston, it opened on Broadway at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on April 25, 1976 and closed June 5, 1976, after 14 previews and 49 regular performances. (wikipedia)
• • •

I've done a wrap-around puzzle before (I think Tyler Hinman had one in a Lollapuzzoola tournament a couple years back) and earlier this evening I did Patrick Berry's mind-blowing Fireball puzzle for this week, so this wasn't nearly as strange to me as it might have been. I saw the gimmick right away, though the puzzle still had enough bite to make it a solid Friday affair. Weirdly, I never saw the second "crossing over" clues on the long answers. Instead, when I finished, I noticed the author LESLIE CHARTERIS's name inside CHARTER ISLES LIE. Then I went and found DESTROYING ANGEL and WINCHESTER RIFLE. Only then did I notice that these phrases were clued via Across numbers that were positioned mid-answer. If I didn't know this was part of a week-long meta puzzle, I'd say that I didn't care for this one much. Seems slightly pointless, and since the gimmick wasn't new to me, the whole thing was more chore than joy. But it's still an impressive construction—not as impressive as that damned Fireball puzzle (you really should see that thing), but impressive nonetheless.

Theme answers:
  • 6A: Country singer Gibbs glided a short distance? (TERRI FLEW INCHES) / 9A: Old West gun, crossing over? (WINCHESTER RIFLE)
  • 35A: Cowboy Rogers as part of a posse afger some younger namesakes joined up? (ELDEST ROY IN GANG) / 36A: Poisonous gilled mushrooms, crossing over? (DESTROYING ANGEL) — why is clue plural and answer singular?
  • 60A: Leasable tropical locales aren't truthful? (CHARTER ISLES LIE) / 64A: Simon Templar's creator, crossing over? (LESLIE CHARTERIS)
I had no idea there were Billboard charts in 1914. I also had no idea that a song named "The ABA Daba Honeymoon" existed (14D: "The ___ Daba Honeymoon" (1914 #1 song)). I suppose I can be forgiven that ignorance, as well as my ignorance of the extremely short-lived 1976 musical "REX!" (if it doesn't have an exclamation point in the title, it should). Took me far, far too long to get CAMBODIAN (15D: Language in which "yes" and "no" are "baat" and "te," respectively), partially because "te" is Maori, and partially because I was half-expecting an invented language like KLINGON. Never heard of the "Surgeon's Photo" (29D: What the "Surgeon's Photo" supposedly depicts => NESSIE) and can't picture or place MEL Allen at all, though somehow his name came to me fairly readily (22D: "The Week in Baseball" host Allen). Had no idea Natalie Portman's birthplace was ISRAEL. I kept wanting something "Star Wars"-y like NABOO. I love the word "pre- (and post-) lapsarian" (mmmm, Miltonesque), so EDEN was a cinch (45A: Prelapsarian home). Lastly, I made a huge crossword nerd error when I wrote in IN STIR for 11A: Doing time (INSIDE). "In stir" survives only (so far as I can tell) in crossword clues and answers. I was so bummed to be wrong.

See you tomorrow for the grand meta-finale.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

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