FRIDAY, May 15 2009 - Xan Vongsathorn (Maryland player informally / Largish animals with black ear tufts / C.I.A betrayer arrested in 1994)
Friday, May 15, 2009
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: sort of ... the puzzle's two 15-letter answers are tied together by inkiness:
TEMPORARY TATTOO (17A: Fun application)
DISAPPEARING INK (56A: Means of secret writing)
Word of the Day: JUBAL Early (5A: Confederate general Early) - Jubal Anderson Early (November 3, 1816 – March 2, 1894) was a lawyer and Confederate general in the American Civil War. He served under Stonewall Jackson and then Robert E. Lee for almost the entire war, rising from regimental command to lieutenant general and the command of an infantry corps in the Army of Northern Virginia. He was the Confederate commander in key battles of the Valley Campaigns of 1864, including a daring raid to the outskirts of Washington, D.C. The articles written by him for the Southern Historical Society in the 1870s established the Lost Cause point of view as a long-lasting literary and cultural phenomenon. (wikipedia)
JUBAL = great olde-timey name that no one has anymore. It appears to be pronounced "jooble." Oh look, it's a good biblical name - The son of Lamech and Adah and the brother of Jabal. He was the "father of all those who play the harp and flute" (Gen 4:20-21). (answers.com)
Odd but enjoyable Friday puzzle, with enough toughness to at least make it interesting. Not an easy start, as none of the Acrosses made sense, and then I hit upon my highly improbable first answer - ICE RUN (2D: Annual river thaw). I say "improbable" because it's an answer that made me go "???" in the recent past, i.e. I had never heard the phrase. But today, it seemed obvious. This started my slow but steady movement around the perimeter of the puzzle - as with yesterday's, I had some trouble getting into that relatively self-enclosed middle, so I was 75% done and coming at it from at least three directions before it finally fell. The "annus mirabilis" was the real problem (40A: The annus in Dryden's "Annus Mirabilis" -> MDCLXVI). I (teacher of 17c. lit) should have known it straight off, but somehow I always think of Dryden as a much later-17c. writer. 1666 is a year I more closely associate with Milton, as "Paradise Lost" came out the following year. Dryden's poem commemorates the (alleged) "miracles" of 1666, which include great military victories for England and the fact that London was not completely destroyed in the Great Fire. The 1666 Plague of London ... gets no ink.
LYNXES was weirdly slow in coming (30D: Largish animals with black ear tufts), and DORAN was utterly unknown to me (37A: Ann of "Rebel Without a Cause"), which added to my struggles in the middle. Just when it was looking like the puzzle might turn out to be reasonably challenging, I rounded the Cape of Good Hope and all of a sudden the puzzle was dry bush and I was fire. Went up the southwestern seaboard in no time flat. Done. I have a question about the SEA, actually, in particular the phrase AT SEA. Today we get ALL AT SEA (36D: Hopelessly confuddled). Well, wait, let's back up and start with "confuddled," which is a word that Blogger is desperately underlining in red. It appears to be the result of cross-breeding "confused" and "befuddled." But the main question is: how is ALL AT SEA any different from AT SEA? Is it simply a matter of scale. You're confuddled with hope, or confuddled with out it? And can you be ASEA (a crossword standard) in the same metaphorical way, or is ASEA always literal?
SALSA DIP always sounds like a lame answer to me (34D: Party dishful). Not the LAMEST, but pretty lame (3D: Like the worst of excuses). Feels redundant. Etc. etc.
Just took my daughter to school. One of the words on her spelling test: OVERWROUGHT. What kind of 3rd grader ever has occasion to use "OVERWROUGHT?"
- 1A: Tower that's typically scaled from the outside (silo) - it only just now occurred to me that "scaled" means "climbed" here and not "measured."
- 10A: Concern for a checker (fact) - wanted SCAN (you know, people at the checkout counter use SCANners ...)
- 25A: "Ubu Imperator" artist, 1923 (Ernst) - sounded very Dadaesque, and early 20c. artists in 5 letters tend to be ERNST, so there you go.
- 33A: Playback problem (skip) - had BLIP. Wanted HISS at one point.
- 59A: Supermodel Sastre (Ines) - neeeeeeeverheardof'er. SASTRE would be a cool, if brutal, thing to put in the grid. "SARTRE was a supermodel?"
- 8D: "Dragonwyck" author Seton (Anya) - another oddish name. This one, a crossword standard.
- 10D: Canopus or Polaris (F star) - who doesn't love playing "Guess Which Letter The Star Is?"
- 33D: Biathlon need (ski) - I think you need two. I had BOW here :(
- 43D: Maryland player, informally (Terp) - one of the most important college team nicknames to know. Short for "terrapin," a kind of turtle.
- 50D: _____ David (six-pointed star) (Mogen) - not Jewish, so I know "Star of David," but not this more Hebraic version.
- 53D: Rowlands of "Gloria" (Gena) - saw -ENA and without reading the clue wrote in XENA. GENA Rowlands is a total badass in "Gloria." LOVE her.
- 45D: Late comedian Mac (Bernie)
- 51A: Captain Marvel, to Billy Batson (alter ego) - sitting on my desk right now is this comic:
It is Fantastic - aimed at kids but beautifully drawn and genuinely funny in a way that adults can appreciate. I can't recommend it enough. This cover makes it look way more traditional and violent than it really is. Honestly, it's adorable.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
PS Xan Vongsathorn is apparently a senior at my alma mater, Pomona College. Therefore, this puzzle is certifiably and unimpeachably awesome. Chirp chirp.
PPS My write-up of Doug Peterson's Friday LAT puzzle can be found here.
PPPS My "Last Minute Father's Day Gift Ideas" write-up is here
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