Thursday, September 13, 2007
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: Legal phrases - 7 15-letter answers all related to the legal system
This puzzle is pretty damned impressive. Can't say that I've seen this many 15-letter answers in a Thursday puzzle. It's usually Friday or Saturday before you see stacks of 15s. And almost all of those answers are good ones - the one stretch was ADMISSION TO BAIL (32A: Order sought by an accused before trial) - though I'm sure it's a legitimate phrase, it's not as in-the-non-professional-language as the others are. The non-theme fill doesn't suffer too much in order to accommodate all the long answers, either. There's perhaps one too many trips to the foreign-language well - ESSA (13D: What she is in Italy), ERES (41A: You are, in Aragon), ESSE (42A: De bene _____ (of conditional validity)), PASTO (22D: Meal, in Milan), TASSE (37D: French cup) - but a lot of the necessitated abbreviations (e.g. 51D: From Nineveh: Abbr. (Assyr.)) and two-word phrases (e.g. 38D: "Coffee _____?" ("... or tea")) are actually very appealing. And the puzzle managed to stay pretty easy despite containing at least three answers that were totally unknown to me.
The theme answers:
- 14A: Serious crimes (capital offenses)
- 17A: Perry Mason line ("The defense rests") - I love that the legal world of this puzzle included a line from the work of the guy whose name probably appears in the puzzle as much as if not more than any other: ERLE Stanley Gardner. Also, I just love that the puzzle went to fiction at all. Way to spread out the frame of reference.
- 39A: Hearing, e.g. (court appearance)
- 40A: Lawyers' requests at trials (motions to strike)
- 57A: Equals at a trial (jury of one's peers)
- 63A: Specialist's offering (expert testimony)
Here's the stuff I didn't know:
- 5D: Erstwhile military aux. (W.A.F.) - Women in the Air Force; this seems pretty obscure. If you Google [waf] there is exactly one site that comes up in any relation to the Air Force, and it's about the W.A.F. band.
- 66A: _____ Tamid (synagogue lamp) (Ner) - if W.A.F. is obscure, this is invisible. Yikes. Does anyone not in the religion know this?
- 28A: Dr. _____ Schneider, historian who was a love interest of Indiana Jones (Elsa) - you're kidding me, right? Half of me hates this, the other half loves that you went to a tertiary character in an 80s adventure flick when you could just as easily have gone to the damned lion. Good for you.
- 26A: "_____ Robin Gray" (classic Scottish ballad) ("Auld") - "Screw 'Lang Syne,' I'm going with more crap no one's heard of!" - again, I have to respect this move.
- 18A: Crest bearer, in heraldry (orle) - I knew this at one point in my life, but that point was not last night.
- 61D: Good name for a flight attendant? (Stu) - oh (I just got it this second), is this because it's short for STEWARD? Man, that is capital "L" Lame.
Must take daughter to school. More in a bit.
And I'm back...
Liked the combination of ACTOR (1D: Part of a company) and EMOTE (46D: Overplay). Also loved the vintage pop culture ("vintage" in relation to my lifetime) we find in 4A: Johnny Carson persona (Swami) - I was thinking Carnac - and 47A: Title locale in a Cheech Marin film (East L.A.) - I can hear the theme song as I sit here typing (sung to the tune of Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A."). I believe Mr. Marin, in some form or another, has now been in the puzzle more this year than many, many actors of, let's say, higher stature. Which is to say I've seen him at least twice.
Rough but ultimately gettable for me were 9D: First multiracial coeducational college in the South (Berea) - this resurfaced after being buried in my memory since the days when I was researching colleges; 25D: Steel support for concrete (rebar), which was probably a gimme for many of you, as it was for my wife; and 49D: Fastenable, as labels (tie-on) - took me a few passes to parse because of that unlikely -EO- sequence. 29D: Legal scholar Guinier (Lani) was a gimme for me, but must have been rough for at least some people, as, outside of legal circles, she was only famous for like a month in 1993 when Clinton nominated her to be Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. That ... did not go well. She sort of got shafted. Must ... keep ... blog ... apolitical ...
My favorite answer of the day: 8D: Suppose (If, say, ...). I would have expected [Suppose] to be in quotation marks, because it's being used in highly colloquial fashion. But still, that's just a perfect use of colloquialism - saves the puzzle from what would likely have been a difficult rewrite, with the probable result being a much less interesting Far North.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld