Noted Civil War signature / SAT 3-4-17 / Longtime Cotton Bowl home informally / Website offering mentally stimulating diversions / Manuel German soccer star called sweeper keeper / Mercer originator of palindrome
Saturday, March 4, 2017
Constructor: Mary Lou Guizzo
Relative difficulty: Easy
Word of the Day: Manuel NEUER (57A: Manuel ___, German soccer star called a "sweeper-keeper") —
Manuel Peter Neuer (German pronunciation: [ˈmaːnu̯ɛl ˈnɔʏ.ɐ]; born 27 March 1986) is a German professional footballer who plays for Bayern Munich and the Germany national team. He is a goalkeeper and serves as vice-captain for Bayern Munich and captain of Germany. Neuer has been described as a "sweeper-keeper" because of his unique playing style and speed when rushing off his line to anticipate opponents; he is also known for his quick reflexes, excellent shot-stopping abilities, strength, long throwing range, command of his area and accurate control and distribution of the ball. [...] In 2014, Neuer finished third in the voting, behind Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, for the FIFA Ballon d'Or award. The same year, he was ranked the third-best player in the world by The Guardian. (wikipedia)
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TEHEE), but the six 15s more than held their own, and kept this thing more good than POOR. It was a weird solve, in that it put up no resistance *except* in the proper nouns, many of which were just outer space-ian to me. I refuse to watch any "Orange is the New Black" because any time a show has that much hype, I just dig in and refuse. Re, Fuse. Sadly (for me), crossword constructors have decided that every cast member (it seems) should appear in crosswords, even people with non-grid-friendly names like TAYLOR SCHILLING, whoever that is (3D: Actress on "Orange Is the New Black"). The German soccer star (57A: Manuel ___, German soccer star called a "sweeper-keeper") reeks of bought word list. Even the clue (straight outta wikipedia) suggests that constructor and editor didn't even really know who he was. I know a *little* about football, and I sure never heard of him (despite watching Germany in international competition several times). He's clearly football-famous, but it's hard to call NEUER good fill. And then VOS!? Yipes. I have a wonderful colleague with that last name. As the middle part of an Eliot poetry volume, though—not good (8D: "Ara ___ Prec" (T.S. Eliot poetry volume)). And what in the world is a LEIGH Mercer? I like my LEIGHs to come in Brackett and only Brackett form. Since when are palindrome creators crossworthy? (25D: ___ Mercer, originator of the palindrome "A man, a plan, a canal—Panama!") Blargh. So I tripped over allllll of those names ... and yet finished in a sub-Friday time. (Not surprising, really—so much short stuff makes getting toeholds very easy)
Started with the gimmes PIAF and YUL, and it was pretty easy to get going from there. Once the "L" from RELEE (ugh) gave me the LISTENING in "ANYONE LISTENING?," I got BIG D (13D: Longtime Cotton Bowl home, informally) and the whole NE corner, then slammed TRIPLE WORD SCORE down the east side (11D: Red square). After working the SW, I threw SHIRLEY CHISHOLM across the grid with an appreciative whoop (53A: First black woman elected to Congress, 1968). Nice answer. I grew up in California and went to Yosemite a few times and always thought it was in the Sierra Nevadas (39A: Yosemite's range). Had SIERRA and wanted WEST (or EAST?). How did "HIGH SIERRA" not get a Bogart movie clue?? The more I look at this grid, the more I'm noticing gunk in the nooks and crannies, so I'll just stop looking and say, I mostly enjoyed it.
Many, many thanks to Laura Librarian for filling in for me these past two days.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
P.S. Peter Gordon is offering a new season (2017-18) of Fireball Newsflash Crosswords—20 very up-to-date puzzles with (very) current events-heavy fill. Get in on the action here (in the next two days!)
P.P.S. Harvard's radio station (WHRB 95.3) interviewed me several months ago re: crosswords as part of a larger segment on the NYT crossword's 75th anniversary. Here it hear. Just kidding, hear it here.
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