Pedestal support / SAT 6-25-16 / Detractors epithet for Putin regime / IHOP topping option / Municipal mainstays / Setting of so-called seven islands of Greence / 13th century bc king with namesakes / European race place / Good to Galba / butterlike product of beef fat / Winner of NBC's America's Toughest Bouncer 1980

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Constructor: Kameron Austin Collins

Relative difficulty: Medium


Word of the Day: SOCLE (37A: Pedestal support) —
noun: socle; plural noun: socles
  1. a plain low block or plinth serving as a support for a column, urn, statue, etc., or as the foundation of a wall. (google)
• • •
If you failed, allow me to tell you exactly where you failed: at SOCLE. You failed at SOCLE. On the rocky shores of SOCLE, your bark was shattered and sank. Other places certainly had their tough moments, but I don't see any other puzzle-destroying sections. SOCLE is a genuine obscurity, and SEKO ... you should probably know him, but even though I've seen his name in puzzles many times, even I wrote in that "S" tentatively. And POS!? I was totally happy, for a number of seconds > 1, with P.I.S as my [Municipal mainstays: Abbr.]. I read a lot of hardboiled crime fiction, so it made sense to me. I was going to go down with SICLE when some part of my brain (the working part) said "P.I.S ain't right." I tested the "O" and had a brief moment of how "how does P.O.S work?" but then got it: post offiices. Makes much more sense for the clue than private investigators. Still, I was not at all sure about SOCLE, and was very happy when I dropped UPDO (last thing in the grid) and the Happy Pencil came up. But hoo boy ... SOCLE. Yeah. Could've done without that scare.

I've been reading David Thomson's "How to Watch a Movie" (which weirdly makes me think of today's constructor, who writes about movies for The Ringer) and he mentions "Un Chien Andalou" at least once, so 1A: Co-writer of the Surrealist silent film "Un Chien Andalou," 1929 (DALI) was a gimme, and that whole NW corner ended up playing like a Tuesday or Wednesday for me. More mid-week level difficulty right down the west side of the grid, despite blanking on JUNO (whose actors and movie poster I could visualize clearly) (29A: Title teen in a 2007 hit indie film) and not entirely believing that SHOE ADDICTS was a thing. But then I got into the middle—the SOCLE—area, and things tightened up considerably. Just getting into the SE and NE proved tricky, and that half probably took me twice as long as the first half. DARIO? (30A: Literature Nobelist ___ Fo) DARI-no. N-ROTC!? Yikes. PILAR? Didn't know at all. Then I had CIA instead of NSA, and that tiny little error was really crucial. It was a gateway; once I fixed it, I shot right up into the NE corner and took it out. Game over.

Overall, the puzzle is this odd combo of old-fashioned and ultra-modern. Lots of good longer stuff, of which KREMLIN, INC. (12D: Detractors' epithet for the Putin regime) was easily my favorite (SCREENER DVD was a solid second). Great bite, great fun. If you failed to survive SOCLE, though, I can see how you might have very different opinions.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

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Dr. Kildare portrayer Ayres / FRI 6-24-16 / Los Angeles suburb next to San Fernando / American Me star 1992 / Brewery named for Dutch river / Harold Hill's portrayer in original cast of Music Man / Another name for Michaelmas daisies

Friday, June 24, 2016

Constructor: Patrick Berry

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (Easy except for one answer...)

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: LAKE VIEW TERRACE (11D: Los Angeles suburb next to San Fernando) —
Lake View Terrace is a suburban district in the north east quadrant of the San Fernando Valley region of the City of Los Angeles, California. // Surrounding areas include the Angeles National Forest, Little Tujunga Canyon, Big Tujunga Canyon, Hansen Dam, Kagel Canyon, and a portion of the Verdugo Mountains. The community lies adjacent to the communities of Sylmar, San Fernando, Shadow Hills, Sunland, Sun Valley, and Pacoima. The area shares the 91342 ZIP code with Sylmar. Lake View Terrace is accessed by the Foothill Freeway (Interstate 210) and the major thoroughfares of which include, Foothill Boulevard, Glenoaks Boulevard, Van Nuys Boulevard and Osborne Street. // The community is middle-class and ethnically mixed, including Latinos, African-Americans, Whites and Asians. // The area hosts a large equestrian community, and is one of the few remaining residential areas in the City of Los Angeles that has private homes zoned for horsekeeping. Lake View Terrace gained international notoriety as the location of the beating of Rodney King by officers of the Los Angeles Police Department in 1991. (wikipedia)
• • •

My standards are so much higher for Patrick Berry puzzles than they are for others', so this one struck me as fairly ordinary (i.e., good) except for one answer that detracted heavily from my enjoyment of and appreciation for this puzzle. LAKE VIEW TERRACE? I am semi-stunned that anyone would waste a grid-spanner on a Friday (or Saturday) on a marginal US suburb. Of suburb whose sole claims to fame appear to be a. being the city after which a Samuel Jackson film was named, and b. being the place where Rodney King was beaten. That latter event was surely historical, but who the hell knows the specific suburb it took place in? I literally just watched the 5-part ESPN documentary on O.J. Simpson, which focused heavily on the Rodney King beating and the entire history of racial strife and tension in Los Angeles, and I still couldn't retrieve LAKE VIEW TERRACE. May as well have been clued [This gated community near where I live]. A puzzle sinker, for me.

Otherwise, as I say, this was very easy, very clean. [Genesis grandson] I had as ESAU at first because, *every man is someone's grandson*, but fixing that wasn't hard. AGGRESSOR NATION (3D: Hostile territory?) took a while to come together because it's not a very common phrase. I mean, it's far more common than LAKE VIEW TERRACE, and far more acceptable, but when I had AGGRESSORN___ I actually thought I might have an error somewhere. Having GIST for MEAT (39A: Most important part) didn't help. But again, surrounding material was easy enough that I didn't stay stuck for long. Had FIRE EXIT (?) before FIRE LANE (15A: No-parking area in a parking lot) and never quite got me head around the tense of REAWOKEN (17A: Brought out of hibernation). Luckily, there is no band called ELA, so ELO it was. ETONITES had to transform to ETONIANS (49A: Some Kings' Scholars), but all other things just slid neatly into place. The end.

[screenshot courtesy of Andrew Ries]

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. this was pretty cool:

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