Remember how PuzzleGirl was traveling yesterday? That was to finish her Colorado vacation and get to her New York one. It's time for Lollapuzzoola, Ryan and Brian's annual crossword tournament, and all your favorite crossword bloggers (PuzzleGirl, Orange, Rex Parker, Ryan and Brian) will be there. So you're left with a non-favorite, me, SethG.
We got off to a promising start with 1A: Year in Pope Innocent III's reign (MCC). And I ended with 43A: Under the decks (ALOW), which I dislike far more. I'd say (and have said) that everyone should stop using the a- prefix, but no one uses the a- prefix. The one that means "on", or "in"—a- for "not, without" is fine, of course. Aperiodic or asexual yes, but alow and abed, no. Unless you want to start allowing acar or abicycle. Finally, you can say ahunting, but only if "Heigh ho, the dairy-o" follows soon thereafter.
I say promising because no constructor wants to start off that way, so I could only assume it was there to support some fantastic stuff I was about to uncover. That stuff? 1D: Sanskrit for "great soul" (MAHATMA), 2D: Work with hooks (CROCHET), and 3D: Main (CENTRAL). Turns out, fine, but not exactly fantastic.
The best part of the puzzle were the NE and SW stacks of 11s. Six answers, all solid, and with solid crosses. Er, mostly solid. Some were just okay, and 11D: Dull ending? (-ARD) is brutal. Still, I mostly liked the puzzle.
Some stuff linked to other stuff:
- Space stuff. 18A: Eagle, notably (LUNAR MODULE) crossed 13D: Surpass (ECLIPSE), and 48A: Salyut successor (MIR) was looking on from, well, afar. Let the eagle soar.
- Ocean stuff. 30A: It covers about 20% of the Earth's surface (ATLANTIC) with the cross-linked 57A: Region of the North 30-Across (SARGASSO SEA). The "It" calls out for a noun, but without a definite article or an "Ocean" ATLANTIC feels like an adjective.
- 15A: "Memories __ Made Of This": 1956 chart-topper (ARE).
- 27A: "Sex and Temperament in Three Primitive Societies" author (MEAD).
- 54A: Toon, familiarly, who debuted in "Devil May Hare" (1954) (TAZ).
- 12D: Ad follower (NAUSEAM). Latin for "to nauseam".
- 24A: Bean named for the Italian word for "bean" (FAVA). You know FAVA beans, you just weren't sure that it's from the Italian word for a bean you eat or from the Italian word for head. It's the seed kind, and is unrelated to CAPO.
- 55A: Error result, often (UNEARNED RUN). It's a baseball thing. If you know it you knew that, and if you didn't you don't care. 32D: Ballpark chorus (BOOS) is also baseball, and 31D: Prudential Center team (NETS) is basketball.
- 25D: Portmanteau drink (ALCOPOP). It's got some dictionary support, and some Urban Dictionary support, but no one in the beverage industry calls it that. Smirnoff Ice is an ALCOPOP.
- 47A: Wall St. hedger (ARB). And arbitrageur purchases securities in one market for immediate resale in another in the hope of profiting from the price differential.
- 45D: Espoo natives (FINNS). Espoo is the second largest city in Finland. I learned that playing ultimate frisbee in western Australia.
- 53D: Where to see some sleepers: Abbr. (RR'S). The sleepers are sleeper cars. Note that I was completely unbothered by the R being in the same puzzle as 26D: It might be a drag (ROAD RACE).
- 58A: German article (DER). I think PuzzleGirl's got a crush. And why shouldn't she?
Everything Else — 4A: Versatile crafts item (PIPE CLEANER); 16A: Decisive stroke (COUP DE GRÂCE); 17A: Sweetie (HON); 19A: Fills in for (ACTS AS); 21A: Much cybercommunication, briefly (IM'S); 22A: One of the fam (SIB); 23A: Beat (THROB); 26A: Default consequence, for short (REPO); 28A: See 51-Down (SALE); 29A: "Find out" ("GO ASK"); 32A: 1970s New York mayor (BEAME); 33A: Dessert shaper (JELLO MOLD); 35A: Have an outstanding loan from (OWE TO); 37A: Lengthen (PROTRACT); 41A: Damage indications (SCARS); 42A: They aren't behind you (FOES); 44A: "Listen!" ("HARK!"); 45A: Swell and dandy (FOPS); 46A: Not a good thing to make in a restaurant (SCENE); 49A: Vehement (FIERCE); 50A: "Mr. Television" (MILTON BERLE); 56A: Threshold (EVE); 4D: Techie training site (PC LAB); 5D: Markers (IOU'S); 6D: "I'd like to study philosophy, but I just Kant," e.g. (PUN); 7D: AQI calculator (EPA); 8D: Windows disk designation (C DRIVE); 9D: Auxiliary proposition (LEMMA); 10D: Strong ones may clash (EGOS); 14D: Adidas subsidiary (REEBOK); 20D: Counterworker? (SODA JERK); 24D: Tank (FAIL); 28D: Battleground of 1944 (ST. LÔ); 29D: Moolah (GELT); 34D: G.I. fare (MRE'S); 35D: Tin whistle relative (OCARINA); 36D: Canary, at times (WARBLER); 38D: Tipped off (ALERTED); 39D: Like band shells (CONCAVE); 40D: Grooming tool (TWEEZER); 41D: Detective, in slang (SHAMUS); 42D: Business issue since 1917 (FORBES); 46D: City S of Florence (SIENA); 48D: New Mexico county or its seat (MORA); 49D: Drawing device (FLUE); 51D: With 28-Across, bargain hunters' mecca (TAG); 52D: Shogun's capital (EDO).