Physicist Mach / TUE 3-3-15 / Flagmaker Ross / 1982 double-platinum Duran Duran album / Treat similar to Yodel / Neighbor of Ricardos / Foot for Greek god Pan / Space station that crashed in 1979 / Likable prez / Event featuring motocross snocross /
Tuesday, March 3, 2015
Constructor: Kristian House
Relative difficulty: Easy
- JOHNNY DEPP (18A: He played one of the lead roles in the film version of 50-/55-Across)
- GONZO JOURNALISM (23A: Writing style popularized by 35-Across)
- "FEAR AND LOATHING / IN LAS VEGAS" (50A: See 35-Across)
Skylab was a space station launched and operated by NASA and was the United States' first space station. Skylab orbited the Earth from 1973 to 1979, and included a workshop, a solar observatory, and other systems. It was launched unmanned by a modified Saturn V rocket, with a weight of 169,950 pounds (77 t). Three manned missions to the station, conducted between 1973 and 1974 using the Apollo Command/Service Module (CSM) atop the smaller Saturn IB, each delivered a three-astronaut crew. On the last two manned missions, an additional Apollo / Saturn IB stood by ready to rescue the crew in orbit if it was needed. […] Plans were made to refurbish and reuse Skylab, using the Space Shuttle to boost its orbit and repair it. However, development of the Shuttle was delayed, and Skylab reentered Earth's atmosphere and disintegrated in 1979, with debris striking portions of Western Australia. (wikipedia)
HUNTER S. THOMPSON today, but as puzzle themes go, this type always feels blah to me. (And, to be fair to Sunday, that had the whole musical scale thing going on, even though, as a very experienced puzzle-maker friend of mine pointed out, SOL should not have been the rebused note in that puzzle, since the lyric is not, obviously, "SOL, a needle pulling thread…" But I really, really digress) Nothing here elevates this theme above the literal plane: this is a man, he did this, he wrote this, this actor played him. The fill is pretty smooth, and there are lots of zingy little answers (HAD A GO, HELL NO, CUDDLE UP, X GAMES), so solving it was in no way an unpleasant experience, but themewise, it's a bit flat. Luckily, the themers themselves are inherently lively, so the puzzle doesn't feel as boring as it might. It's worth noting, also, that, though Kristian House (today's constructor) has published many puzzles in the NYT, this was the first one he ever had accepted (!), way back in 2008 (!?). He actually asked for it back about a year ago so he could clean up the fill some. Good for him for taking that initiative. And as for the editor's holding a puzzle for that long … I don't know, man. I just don't know.
- 1D: Tried (HAD A GO) — this answer, and my initial answer of SEALAB (!?!?) for SKYLAB, and my balking at MERTZ because I thought the clue suggested a plural (it doesn't) (41D: Neighbor of the Ricardos on "I Love Lucy"), meant that my time came out relatively average, rather than well below average, which is what I thought was going to happen. When with only minimal initial help from some crosses, you can fill in the entire set of theme answers without thinking, that puzzle falls under the "Easy" category, no matter what my time says.
- 1A: Treat similar to a Yodel (HO-HO) — Wasn't entirely sure. Brain got stuck in between and wanted YOHO initially.
- 8D: Aristocrats (GENTRY) — this answer may also have added slightly to my time, as it was a plural clue with a non-"S"-ending answer. Throwing "S" down quickly ended up being the wrong move there, obviously. See the flip problem at 33A: Fragrant neckwear (LEIS), where an apparently singular clue has a plural (and "S"-ending) answer.
P.S. please enjoy this ironic picture I took of my television screen last night: