Marshal under Napoleon / TUE 12-1-15 / 1987 declaration from Michael Jackson / Beatles song released on 12/3/1965 / Mach3 forerunner / Marc who painted Russian Village under moon / Turkish pooh-bahs

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Constructor: Dan Schoenholz

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: Opening line of NORWEGIAN WOOD  (55A: Beatles song released on 12/3/1965) — "I ONCE HAD A GIRL / OR SHOULD I SAY / SHE ONCE HAD ME"

Word of the Day: IMOGEN (47D: Daughter of King Cymbeline in Shakespeare's "Cymbeline") —
Imogen was the daughter of King Cymbeline in Shakespeare's play Cymbeline. She was described by William Hazlitt as "perhaps the most tender and the most artless" of all Shakespeare's women. // According to some modern editions of Shakespeare's plays, notably the 1986 Oxford Edition, the correct name is in fact Innogen, and the spelling "Imogen" is an error which arose when the manuscripts were first committed to print. The name Innogen is mentioned as a ghost character in early editions of Much Ado About Nothing as the wife of the Leonato character. Imogen in Cymbeline is paired with a character with the epithet "Leonatus". (wikipedia)
• • •

Oh, Baby Boomers. Not *every* Beatles song deserves its own puzzle. This is a non-theme. It's preposterous. I mean, it's December 1, so not even the timing is right on this one. I kept waiting for the twist, the hook, the thing. But no. The theme is just the opening line of "NORWEGIAN WOOD" and That. Is. All. Good night.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Longtime Syrian strongman / MON 11-30-15 / Stereotypical parrot's name / Body of water between France Switzerland / Tibetan watchdogs

Monday, November 30, 2015

Constructor: Ian Livengood

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: MID-As TOUCH (64A: Moneymaking skill ... or, when read as three words, what happens in 17-, 21-, 35-, 45- and 54-Across) —five 10-letter themers, each made of two 5-letter words where first word ends in "A" and second word begins with "A" ... thus, the "A"s "touch" "mid-"answer:

Theme answers:
  • OPERA ARIAS (17A: Songs for divas)
  • FIONA APPLE (21A: 1997 Grammy-winning artist whose last name is a fruit)
  • LHASA APSOS (35A: Tibetan watchdogs)
  • PAULA ABDUL (45A: Former "American Idol" judge)
  • SANTA ANITA (54A: Noted California horse-racing venue)
Word of the Day: BOLLS (26A: Pods of cotton) —
• • •

This is pretty damned elegant, especially for a puzzle of the phenomenally easy variety. The revealer came as a real "wow," which is a rarity on Any day of the week. I could see that it was MIDAS TOUCH but didn't stop to read the clue that closely and could only think, as I was speeding off to finish the rest of the grid, "Uh ... where's the gold in these answers? How does 'AA' represent gold?" But it doesn't. Instead "A"s touch in the "mid"dle of the answers. The exact middle—a nice "touch." I'm not sure I like OPERA ARIAS that much as an answer, since it seems almost redundant—where the hell else am I going to hear ARIAS? And you have to cheat a little bit with the pluralizing to get LHASA APSOS to come off. But let's just call that "creativity," not "cheating." Why can't I learn how to spell LHASA. It always comes out LLASA on first try. Like ... I confuse LLAMA and LHASA. And yet I would never ever spell the animal LHAMA. Maybe writing about this will help settle this issue in my brain. And yet, somehow, I feel I have written these exact words before, to no avail.

I was down near my record time on this one. Where were the hiccups. Well, LHASA, obviously, though that was easily fixed. Honestly, the only other issues I had involved my clumsy fingers, which will apparently never obey me well enough to allow me to break the 2:20 mark. I was right at 2:30 today. I got lucky at a couple turns. I had LAKE and threw down GENEVA more as a hope than a certainty. That worked out. Also, I was able to make the turn into the center of the grid via the *back* end of PAULA ABDUL without any trouble (she's a gimme for me ... I had a ... let's call it a "phase" ... in college; an ABDUL phase ...). Fill here is pretty clean, with some pretty exciting longer answers (yes, I am someone who finds CLIPBOARDS exciting, for real) (11D: Ones providing backing for writers?). Nice Monday work, for sure.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


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