SATURDAY, Jan. 31, 2009- K. Bessette (Ad pitcher who's really a pitcher / Dish with cornhusks / Pita source / "Thrilla in Manila" airer)
Saturday, January 31, 2009
Relative difficulty: Easy
Word of the Day: ASCUS - A membranous, often club-shaped structure in which typically eight ascospores are formed through sexual reproduction of ascomycetes [the largest of the major groups of fungi]
As with last Saturday's puzzle, I finished this one more quickly than I did Friday's. When you have a big, (literally) fat gimme like 17A: Ad pitcher who's really a pitcher (Kool-Aid Man) right off the bat, the puzzle opens up very quickly. Once you get one Across in a stack like that, most of your work is done. You can hack at the quadrant with the Downs until everything else comes into view, and none of those Downs were any trouble. Oh, except AGAVE (9D: Pita source). I had no idea. I thought that the only noteworthy thing to come from AGAVE was tequila. Weird that pita and tequila have the same source. I do not think I'd drink them together. OK, now I see the problem. We're dealing with a secondary definition of pita that I've never heard of:
- Any of several plants of the genus Agave that yield strong leaf fibers. Also called istle.
- The fiber of any of these plants, used in making cordage and paper.
Here are my gimmes for today:
- KOOL-AID MAN
- 23A: Weapons once produced extensively by the Royal Small Arms Factory (stens) - yes, a gimme. Weapon + British + four letters (five in a plural) = STEN! Except when it doesn't, I guess, but in this case it does.
- 26A: Satyajit Ray's ("The _____ Trilogy") ("Apu") - this clue has been de-"Simpson"ized for your protection.
- 27A: Dish with cornhusks (tamale) - getting this instantly = the benefit of knowing only one dish with cornhusks
- 2D: Have _____ (not be trapped) (an out) - that's a Monday/Tuesday clue
- 26D: Yellowfin, on Hawaiian menus (ahi) - this word is here to stay, so remember it. It's Very convenient, from a constructor's point of view ("How can I avoid yet another ALI or ARI or ANI?"), and its frequency appears to be increasing as everyone begins to agree that it is indeed a reasonably common term.
- 28D: Last name of father-and-son N.F.L. coaches (Mora) - first thing that occurred to me. Not the most famous coaches, but they have a name custom-made for the grid.
- 25A: Chicago Fire's sports org. (MLS) - Major League Soccer
- 51D: Whac-_____ (carnival game) (a-Mole) - another Monday/Tuesday-level clue. I've seen this game in TV shows and movies ... and at carnivals, I guess, though I can't remember the last time I went to one of those.
- 11A: Southern appellation (br'er) - a contraction of "brother?" I had MA'AM at first.
- 15A: Between wings (on the stage) - a complement to yesterday's APRON clue
- 37A: Player of the first Bond girl (Andress) - nearly a gimme. A cross or two jarred my memory. It was not unpleasant to have it jarred in this manner
- 44A: "Thrilla in Manila" airer (HBO) - I've seen this clue before, and yet I was again surprised that HBO existed that long ago.
- 1D: Dawdling sorts (pokes) - so the expression "slow POKE" ... is redudant? What about "cow POKE?"
- 5D: Trees of the verbena family (teak) - as with AGAVE and ASCI, my knowledge of the technical terms of flora and fauna is weak. That's why god invented crosses. I don't know what TEAK is, but I know that TEAK is.
- 12D: Indian tribe V.I.P. (rainmaker) - also a Coppola film and this song by Yanni - an encore presentation!
- 13D: Spammer's resource (e-mail list) - my blog has been getting spammed less often lately. O man, did I just jinx it?
- 24D: Market yardstick, for short (S and P) - Standard & Poors index. Got it off the SA-. Parsing!
- 33D: Bygone stickers (snees) - an old crossword friend, the SNEE.
- 34D: Automotive debuts of 1949 (Saabs) - again, as with HBO, I'm surprised at how old this answer is.
- 38D: _____ Dinh Diem (first president of South Vietnam) (Ngo) - again with the Vietnamese stuff I don't know. Two days in a row. First BAO. Now NGO.
- 47D: Travel writer Eugene (Fodor) - the clue seemed absurd. I figured FODOR was like HOOTIE from HOOTIE and the Blowfish - just a name, not an actual person.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld