----------------- Saturday, February 23, 2008 Puzzle by Barry C. Silk, edited by Will Shortz Depending upon one’s familiarity with selective areas of interest and experience, a crossword puzzle in which no word relates to another in any way, shape or fashion can be a tiresome and thankless chore. However, when there are a few sparks here or there which elicit one’s immediate response, it can be satisfying. BADLANDS (4D. South Dakota's ___ National Park), an otherwise apt description of this crossword puzzle, was that for me today, along with a half-dozen others, making it possible to get through this brainbuster -- albeit with help from my tattered TOME (51D. Space hog in a library). Another was STALACTITES (39A. They hang from the roof). Summers in South Dakota, a young fellow could work as a guide in one of the many caves in the Black Hills -- mine was the Black Hills Caverns. Other comfort included ARON (2D. “East of Eden” twin), usually clued Elvis ___ Presley, and XANADU (40D. Exotic estate), calling to mind two of my favorite films. Movement and non-movement in the puzzle seemed to come easy -- ROADWARRIOR (30A. Frequent business traveler); DIRTROAD (37D. Where you might get into a rut); ONELEG (19A. What flamingos often stand on); AREAMAP (15A. G.P.S. receiver display); AROMAS (22A. They travel by air); JAM (33A. Flow stopper), not “dam“; AVIATOR (54A. An ace is a good one); even DOGCATCHER (29D. One who might pick up toys), although I can’t say I’ve ever seen a Poodle on the loose. No problem either with SACRILEGE (20D. Profanity); LOVER (12D. Gallant); CONSENTINGADULT (36A. One who didn’t say no?); PORN (49D. Feelthy stuff); or CARGOPANTS (6D. Wear for rough outdoor activities) -- don’t ask! Real sticklers, due mostly to the cluing, were NETFLIX (8A. Service with a queue) which could be anything; SIS (20A. Reunion moniker), now really! ANALOGY (16A. Explanatory tool); FLORAL (11D. Like some prints), which could be a lot of things -- well, that whole upper right corner… actually XYLEM (14D. Botanical nutrient conductor) came easier than REVE (21A. Vision de nuit), NARIS (8D. Nostril); REMOVAL (18A. Ousting); or the nefarious SIS. Continuing with this pseudo-thesis of trials and tribulations -- something in which I don’t exactly specialize, leaving same to others in the blogosphere -- there are those names of places to which virtually no one has ever been or will go, and whose existence is unknown to most of humanity -- HERAT (24A. Afghan province or its capital), which my spell-check keeps changing to “heart”, stop already! WESER (31D River formed by the junction of the Fulda and Werra); EWA Beach, Hawaii (41A); Burkina FASO (1D.); KILDARE (57A. County west of Dublin); and ULAN-Ude (Russian city on the Trans-Siberian Railroad) -- all of which I am convinced exist, along with a multitude of others, only to fill difficult corners for crossword constructors with a penchant for Googling! A QUAKE (43D. Faultfinder’s concern?) take them all! While we’re at it, throw in QATAR (43A. Home to Al Jazeera), along with the AMEER (5D. Robed ruler: Var.) and his HAREM (24A. Part of some Muslim households)! Oh, and the ENSUING (59A. Subsequent) SHMOOZE (56A. Chin-wag); FATBACK (1A. Lard source); SOLDERS (17A. Uses a certain iron); CARTEL (50A. Trust); SESAMES (58A. Some oilseeds); ERODERS (60A. Things that wear well?) which round out the eclecticism along with conversation in the form of IGETIT (46A. “Oh right”), and IAMSO sorry!” (47D.) none of help in soothing, Much LESS (53A.) solving! Remaining clues: Across -- 1. Ltr. Recipient pinpointer; 28. Candidate supporter, briefly; 29. First to be admitted?: Abbr.; 38. Abbr. in some city names; 40. Indications of good bowling; 42. What’s left; 49. Game intro?. Down -- 3. MTV segment?; 7. Some G.I. duties; 9. Chemical endings; 10. Laddie’s lid; 13. Donation declaration; 23. Atlanta commuting option; 25. Mischievous; 26. Sound of impatience; 27. Some vacationers’ acquisitions; 32. Amazed; 33. Cordage material; 34. Potent round; 35. MTST Helens; 44. Gridder Harper; 45. Heads-down view; 46. Like some bad goods: Abbr.; 52. Israel’s Weizman; 55. Sea beam, in a sushi bar; and 56. Birmingham-to-Montgomery dir. -- what would constructors do without SSE, NNE, ESE, ENE, SSW, NNW, and every other which way? Well, all's well that ends well, and this puzzle did bring back memories of rock-hunting and spelunking in the good old days of yore with nary a soul or a word in sight!
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