Friday, December 30, 2011

Sandy tract by sea to a brit / SAT 12-31-11 / Novelist whose character Adah speaks in palindromes / Curly-furred cats / Old Testament man of field / Thoughtful soul to solitude retires poet

Constructor: Joe Krozel

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: none

Word of the Day: DENE (29A: Sandy tract by the sea, to a Brit) —
n. Chiefly British
A sandy tract or dune by the seashore.
n (Earth Sciences / Physical Geography) Brit a valley, esp one that is narrow and wooded (

• • •

High point: KINGSOLVER
Low point: DENE (?)
Crucial gimmes: NODS, SCION, SSW, SAGA

Took one look at that four-stack and thought "ugh, this is not going to be good." Such stunts rarely are. But I must say, as four-stacks go, this one was not terrible. Solid all the way across, and with only slightly rickety crosses here and there. Actually, only SENG seemed particularly out-of-the-ordinary (38D: Hong Kong's Hang ___ index). As RRNs (random Roman numerals) go, I actually don't mind XIII, and every other cross is decent. Nicely done. Mind you, the fill you get on a four-stack is rarely scintillating, and today is no exception. Hard to get excited about REAL ESTATE TAXEzzzzzzzzz (31A: They're often placed on parcels). But still, the whole thing comes off clean, which is about as good a result as I could have hoped for. 

Started with NODS (22A: Approvals), then guessed SCION (1D: Offshoot) and immediately got its anagramming cross, ICONS (17A: Computer screenful). NW, done. KINGSOLVER (4D: Novelist whose character Adah speaks in palindromes) and MOISTEST (20D: Like the best chicken or turkey, say) went down easily into that middle section. Off of MISS (6A: What a 61-Across will be called for only a little while longer), I guessed BRIDE-something in the SW, which got me into that section, which ended up being the easiest of all. Threw HEART SHAPE up into the middle section and thus had a very nice block of crosses to get me started (28D: Feature of many a box of chocolates). I don't remember much else, except having to change AT THIS RATE (which feels familiar) to AT THAT RATE (which feels ... something else). And I finished up in the NW—not for any particular reason; that's just how it worked out. Nothing tough up there. 

  • 23A: "The thoughtful soul to solitude retires" poet (OMAR) — had the "O" and got it instantly. I assume this is OMAR Khayyam. Yes. I guess "Khayyam" is not his last name (?) (though wikipedia sure seems to think it is). 
  • 47A: Old Testament "man of the field" (ESAU) — might have gotten this even without the "ES-" already in place. Seems pretty easy stuff for a Saturday (maybe we're supposed to end the year with an easy puzzle so everyone can feel like a winner!)
  • 34D: Red Sox anthem ("TESSIE") — I've liked the Red Sox for decades and have been to a couple games at Fenway and still didn't know this. Wanted "Sweet Caroline" or "Dirty Water."
  • 52D: Curly-furred cats (REXES) — ironically, I had absolutely no clue about this one 'til I got that "X" in there.  
Have a safe and happy New Year's Eve, everyone.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

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