Sunday, January 1, 2012

Statesman Root / MON 1-2-12 / One providing nonmedical support for woman in labor / Old Detroit brewery name / George M Yankee Doodle Boy composer / Pulitzer-winning 1920 Eugene O'Neill play

Constructor: Paula Gamache

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: SIGHT UNSEEN (62A: Literal description of something that is 18-, 24-, 40- or 49-Across) — answers are all [preposition THE place] phrases describing locations that one cannot (yet) see.

Word of the Day: DOULA (58A: One providing nonmedical support for a woman in labor) —
A Doula is someone who provides non-medical support to women and their families during labour and childbirth, and also the postpartum period. (wikipedia)
• • •

Didn't care for this one. First it was supereasy and boring, then it got less easy but more annoying. Never heard of "BEYOND THE HORIZON," but it won the Pulitzer, so I suppose it's worth knowing. Doesn't seem Monday, but no big deal. Bigger issue for me was UNDER THE COUNTER—could not figure COUNTER out at all. Needed nearly every cross. Heard of paying someone UNDER THE TABLE. Don't know the COUNTER phrase so well. But again, that's mainly my problem. What's not my problem is the revealer. First, SIGHT UNSEEN, as far as I've ever heard it, is used in relation to something that has been bought or otherwise accepted. Literally, the answers in this puzzles could be described, I suppose, as UNSEEN, but SIGHT UNSEEN is discordant. Further, there's no reason I can't (literally) see under a counter. Depends on where I'm standing (same can't be said for other expressions). Further further, the corners on this thing look like they were filled by a computer. TKOS, ASSN, and LIRAS (pl!?) all in the same small corner. Lazy. ERITU crossing ELIHU!? (26D: Statesman Root) That's a black hole of crosswordese. Mildly cutesy idea, executed averagely. If a puzzle going to go 16 wide, there should be good reason, and the grid should be especially well filled. Neither of those criteria were met here.

Theme answers:
  • 18A: Elderly, so to speak (OVER THE HILL)
  • 24A: Soon to arrive (AROUND THE CORNER)
  • 40A: Pulitzer-winning 1920 Eugene O'Neill play ("BEYOND THE HORIZON")
  • 49A: Secret or illegal (UNDER-THE-COUNTER)
Remembered the [Old Detroit brewery name] (STROH) but had no clue about the "The Yankee Doodle Boy" composer (George M. COHAN). Thankfully, I have a cousin who's a midwife—though I probably would've known DOULA anyway. I've never seen it in crosswords. I have no idea how well known the word is. It's about the only thing interesting in this puzzle. Original. I though DSL was AOL (9D: Broadband inits.), but otherwise, nothing about the top half was very troubling. Oh, LISLE (13D: Smooth cotton fabric). Ugh. Fabrics. No idea what I had at first. I should've known there'd be gratuitous French somewhere.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

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