FRIDAY, May 1 2009- J Pahk (Poule's partner / Big name in steelmaking / Subject of plays by Sophocles Sartre O'Neill / Imperator's law)
Friday, May 1, 2009
Relative difficulty: Challenging*
Word of the Day: CECUM (46A: The appendix extends from it) - The cecum or caecum (from the Latin caecus meaning blind) is a pouch connected to the ascending colon of the large intestine and the ileum. It is separated from the ileum by the ileocecal valve (ICV) or Bauhin's valve, and is considered to be the beginning of the large intestine.
Mmm, just what I want with my puzzle. Intestine.
I would have made KLEPTOCRACY the word of the day (7D: Government marked by rampant greed and corruption), since it was arguably the answer of the day, but CECUM was far tougher for me to get, so it won.
*I did this puzzle immediately upon waking at 6am and got nowhere and then got grumpy fast, so I have no perspective today. Upon completion, the grid looks nice, so it's probably better than I think it is at the moment. Given the less than ideal circumstances under which I solved this one, I'll try to keep evaluative comments to a minimum. I'll leave them (mostly) to you.
I feel like Joon's puzzles are not great fits for me on two levels. One, he seems almost overfond of misdirective cluing, of pulling out the "?"-clue or cluing his stuff as toughly or tricksily as possible, which can be great fun or irritation galore, e.g. 28A: They're not exactly user-friendly (narcs), or 60A: Guy making passes (matador). Two, science. He's a scientist. His stuff always feels self-consciously math/sciencey to me. Not my strong(est) suit. CECUM was news to me. DNA SEQUENCE (26D: Biochemical arrangement) took forever to see, but that's likely due more to the fact that I was looking for a single word ending "QU-NCE" for a long time than to the phrase itself. It's not an unfamiliar phrase. AREOLA is familiar enough, but not as clued (2D: Small hollow in a surface, in biology). I guess that's really not that many answers from the math/science genre, but the first two in particular created major stopping points. Other troubles...
Couldn't remember what [Hidebound] meant. All I could think of was "threadbare," and so "STO..." was doing nothing for me. FEHR (57A: Donald of the Major League Baseball Players Association) is borderline unfehr, in that I follow baseball reasonably closely and had No Idea who this was. As baseball obscurities go, this one is way way up there. I had TAKEN for LADEN at one point (51D: Afflicted (with)), thinking "oh yes, a "K," that seems very late-week Joon"). Do WELTER-weights "tumble and toss about." I realized at some point during this puzzle that I don't use the word "WELTER" and couldn't really define it, though it feels like a very familiar word. The only real lasting annoyance I feel toward this puzzle involves LAIC (36D: Flock member). Since when is this a noun? "Hi, I'm a LAIC." What? There's the LAITY, there's a LAYMAN (or LAYPERSON), and then there's the adjective LAIC, referring to the aforementioned lay folk. "See that LAIC over there?" No, I don't.
- 1A: Take the wheels out from under? (carjack) - good, though the "?" is almost unnecessary
- 8A: Arms on shoulders (muskets) - the NE took me longer than any other section. It was wide open up there until I guessed ANTIQUE (16A: Object of many an appraisal), and then after the SQUADRON debacle at 12D: Army outfit (equipage), I was able to piece together MUSKETS, which made everything else up there finally come together.
- 20A: Nombre after six (sept) - perhaps the first thing I filled in, with a SIGH (43A: Indication of longing) of relief after floundering in the NW.
- 41A: Subject of plays by Sophocles, Sartre and O'Neill (Electra) - wouldn't have known it off hand, necessarily, but know enough about ancient literature to have seen it easily with just the "TR" in place.
- 44A: Poule's partner (coq) - once again, saved by basic French
- 59A: "_____ in Love" ("Kismet" song) - ugh, my other nemesis. Musicals. Luckily, this one was obvious.
- 35D: Imperator's law (lex) - obvious, and yet ... I wrote in RES. "Ooh, look at me, I'm so clever, I know the Latin word for 'law' .... D'oh!"
- 37D: Big name in steelmaking (Bessemer) - no idea why, but this name came to me instantly. Hesitated a bit, as I wondered if I wasn't confusing it with "gossamer." "A trip to the moon / On bessemer wings ..."
- 48D: Predecessor of web forums (usenet) - this term is vaguely familiar to me from the '90s.
- 13D: Gridiron boo-boo (turnover) - if you are on the "gridiron" and you use the word "boo-boo," you will get the ass-kicking you deserve.
- 17A: Like wingdings (festive) - if you use the word "boo-boo" at a wingding, everyone will chuckle amiably at your ironic use of childish language.
- 33A: Most miserable hour that _____ time saw": Lady Capulet ("e'er") - always like the Shakespeare quotes that I can get without knowing anything about the play. I'm guessing this is from Act V.
- 61D: Image specification, for short (res) - as in "resolution?" OK.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
Presidential LAT puzzle today - my write-up here.