Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Duplex mail / THU 11-17-11 / Mad manager / Savory turnover from south of border / 40th since 1789 / D-Day refuges for wounded

Constructor: Patrick Merrell

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: "LETTER SORTING" (35A: "Stronger title" for this puzzle) — Clues are odd phrases that, when anagrammed, create familiar words/phrases meaning "anagrammed"

  • 17A: Roof detour => OUT OF ORDER
  • 26A: Duplex mail => ALL MIXED UP
  • 49A: Rear garden => REARRANGED
  • 57A: Mad manager => ANAGRAMMED

Word of the Day: Gamal ABDEL Nassar (7D: Egypt's Gamal ___ Nassar) —
Gamal Abdel Nasser Hussein (15 January 1918 – 28 September 1970) was the second President of Egypt from 1956 until his death. A colonel in the Egyptian army, Nasser led the Egyptian Revolution of 1952 along with Muhammad Naguib, the first president, which overthrew the monarchy of Egypt and Sudan, and heralded a new period of modernization, and socialist reform in Egypt together with a profound advancement of pan-Arab nationalism, including a short-lived union with Syria. // Nasser is seen as one of the most important political figures in both modern Arab history and politics in the 20th century. Under his leadership, Egypt nationalized the Suez Canal Company and came to play a central role in anti-imperialist efforts in the Arab World and Africa. The imposed ending to the Suez Crisis made him a hero throughout the Arab world. He was also instrumental in the establishment of the international Non-Aligned Movement. He is well known for his nationalist policies and version of pan-Arabism, also referred to as Nasserism, which won a great following in the Arab World during the 1950s and 1960s. Although his status as "leader of the Arabs" was badly damaged by the Israeli victory over the Arab armies in the Six-Day War, as well as Egypt's failure to win the subsequent War of Attrition against Israel, many in the general Arab population still view Nasser as a symbol of Arab dignity and freedom. (wikipedia)
• • •

An interesting theme that had me baffled for quite a long time. When I don't pick up a theme til the bottom half of the grid, that means trouble. Wasn't until I got most of REARRANGED that I realized what was happening. I thought the cluing in general was a notch harder than usual, so crosses weren't abundant enough for me to pick the theme up earlier. Also, the theme revealer is a super-lame non-phrase. All the theme answers are perfect, and then there's this horrid, ungainly, "LETTER SORTING" right smack dab in the middle of things. Was that to ensure that the word "title" could be found in there? Ugh. Once I discovered the theme, I zipped through the puzzle *except* for one stupid, inexcusable, I'm-an-idiot mistake that cost me a huge amount of time. Not a mistake, really, but an eye skip / misread. I had USE IN at 33A: "___ in good health" and didn't question it for a second. Wrote it in early and thought nothing of it. But in the end I could not *$&%ing figure out what 34D: Certain cut-off point (TIME LIMIT) was. I thought my error was at "EMILY" (41A: "See ___ Play," classic Pink Floyd song) ("classic" song? Never heard of it). I was even second-guessing NIBS. NUBS? NEBS? It's NIBS, right? Aargh. Had NIME LIMIT and even checked all the crosses in NIME at least once (which means my brain blocked that "in" in the clue multiple times!!!?). Finally read clues more deliberately and noticed my stupid stupid reading mistake and changed USE IN to USE IT. Stupid, horrible partial, but stupider solving error on my part. All in all, this seems a solid enough puzzle, even though I didn't find it that enjoyable.

ABDEL???? With an "E"? Ugh. Parrots say "AWK" now???? (23D: Parrot's cry) What the hell? I wrote in BOELYN. It felt so right. It still looks righter to me than BOLEYN (53A: House of Tudor woman). I really hate the word "appurtenance," in that it's unnecessarily long and pretentiously Latinate. Equipment. Gear. This is what you mean here (4D: Painter's appurtenance => DROP CLOTH). EMPANADA was my first breakthrough word (36D: Savory turnover from south of the border)—first 6+-letter word I managed to get into the grid successfully. REAGAN was another important get (47D: The 40th since 1789). Those two answers helped me get into the theme (finally), and then build the rest of the grid from the bottom up.

  • 25D: Magazine that serialized Simone de Beauvoir's 1967 "La femme rompue" (ELLE) — four letters, something French, ELLE. One of the easier clues in the puzzle. 
  • 20A: Tea-grading term (PEKOE) — Thought PEKOE was a type of tea. Didn't know "grading" was involved. Apparently PEKOE is " A grade of black tea consisting of the leaves around the buds." (
  • 24D: Yachting need (SAIL) — There aren't motorized yachts? 
  • 52A: D-Day refuges for the wounded, for short (LSTS) — learned this term from xwords, but had no idea these craft were "refuges for the wounded." 
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

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