Residents of dry open country in South America - FRIDAY, Apr. 24, 2009 - B Silk (Carrier of very destructive cargo / Reason to do a 2 a.m. shift)
Friday, April 24, 2009
Relative difficulty: Medium
Word of the Day: GUANACOS (3D: Residents of dry open country in South America) - A reddish-brown South American ruminant mammal (Lama guanicoe) related to and resembling the domesticated llama.
Honestly, I figured GUANACOS were some kind of people until I looked the word up just now. Yikes. That word crossing RIC (25A: Rapper _____-A-Che) was nearly fatal. Luckily, I was able (finally) to figure out the word that the rapper's name was supposed to sound like ("ricochet"), and even though the "C" felt iffy, I went with it, and ... success. That was the only scary part of this puzzle. I wonder if RIC-A-Che could FIND A WAY (49A: Succeed somehow) to put SUSAN DEY (37A: "L.A. Law" Golden Globe winner) on the ENOLA GAY (28A: Carrier of very destructive cargo). That would make an awesome rap song. As for the rest of the puzzle, it was solid Friday fare, pitched at just the right level of difficulty. It's a weird grid, in some ways. First, it has no answers longer than 8 letters. Second, it's got that looong (9 squares) diagonal wall in the middle, which makes the grid look like some odd racing track with two anterooms in the NW and SE.
Mystery answers for me today:
- GREGG (26A: Texas county named for a Civil War general, with its seat in Longview) - oh, with its seat in Longview ... now I get it (sarcasm = high)
- EMMETT (14D: Daniel Decatur _____, minstrel who wrote "Dixie") - I've been meaning to brush up on my minstrels.
- MEER (48D: Physics Nobelist Simon van der _____)
Everything else was at least familiar. I started with RENT-A for 23A: _____-Car, but then changed it to ECONO when I realized that the Down cross on the first letter (23D: Plant problem) was probably EDEMA. Well, I was right to change it to ECONO, but I was wrong about why. Answer ended up as ERGOT, which is one of those words that broke me once in the past, and which therefore I will never forget. Grew up watching Fresno State play the Anteaters of UC IRVINE (52A: The Anteaters of the Big West Conf.), so that was easy, as was HTTPS (41A: U.R.L. opener indicating an additional layer of encryption), which anyone who has ever bought anything online should recognize. Most of the fill in the puzzle was familiar, but clued in such a way that I had to think hard or get some crosses in order to get at it. Just what Friday should be. The only things I didn't like in the puzzle were STRAYER (37D: Lost soul) - what the hell? - and ADRENALS (33D: They're located above the kidneys). Aren't they ADRENAL GLANDS? ADRENALS sounds informal. I'm sure it's common parlance in, say, hospitals, but it still feels like an abbreviation of sorts. I (desperately) had ADENOIDS, which are near your tonsils. To my credit, the ADENOIDS are, technically, "above the kidneys."
- 7A: Its flag features an image of a stone-carved bird (Zimbabwe) - when I first looked at the clue, I already had the "M" and "W" in place. Got it instantly.
- 19A: Kings Peak's range (Uinta) - the greatest crossword range of all.
- 24A: 1984 perfect game pitcher Mike (Witt) - should have been in my baseball sweet spot, but I totally blanked on his name and needed first two letters before I got it.
- 38A: Reducer of pier pressure? (jetty) - honestly, I'm not sure what this is, though I was familiar enough with the word to know that it was right.
- A structure, such as a pier, that projects into a body of water to influence the current or tide or to protect a harbor or shoreline from storms or erosion.
- A wharf.
- 47A: Phenomena associated with some dwarfs (novae) - figured it wasn't the Snow White kind of dwarves (dwarfs).
- 53A: What wisdom outweighs, according to Sophocles (wealth) - on the scales of what?
- 6D: Reason to do a 2 a.m. shift (DST) - that's a Great clue
- 7D: Alfred Kinsey's field (zoology) - zing. You were thinking sex, weren't you? Weren't you?
- 32D: Home of the World Museum of Mining (Butte) - "Can we go mom, can we go? Huh? Can we!?"
- 39D: It was first publicly performed in Vienna in 1805 ("Eroica") - also, the first Beethoven symphony I ever heard performed live.
- 41D: Plaza de la Revolución locale (Havana) - would like to visit (you know, once relations with the U.S. thaw or whatever it is they seem to be in the process of doing now)
- 50D: Richard Gere title role of 2000 ("Dr. T") - this movie was no great addition to the cinematic pantheon, but man has it been gold for constructors. Without it, they'd still be waiting around for Mr. T to get his Ph.D.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
Two more announcements, one for L.A., one for NY.
- L.A. - the Crosswords L.A. Tournament is tomorrow. It's a charity tournament. It's cheap. You will have fun. Go.
- N.Y. - artist Emily Cureton, whose NYT crossword drawings are legendary, would like you to know that the Morgan Fine Arts Building is having a Spring Studio Open House tomorrow, 5-10pm. She writes, "My studio will be open to the public and decked out in my most recent work, plus a trashcan full of ice cold beer. Hope you can make it." You should go.