Accompanier of a harrow in harrow - SUNDAY, May 3, 2009 - C Madison (Bar since 1879 / Relatives of balalaikas / Revelations choreographer)
Saturday, May 2, 2009
Relative difficulty: Challenging
THEME: "A Stately Garden" - theme answers feature circled squares that spell out the state flowers of the states mentioned (in brackets) at the end of the clues
Word of the Day: SAMI - n., pl. Sami or -mis or Saami or -mis. In both senses also called Lapp.
- A member of a people of nomadic herding tradition inhabiting Lapland.
- Any of the Finnic languages of the Sami.
Now, there are likely 8th graders who know BRNO, and I'm sure I've seen it before, somewhere, but ... for some reason, I couldn't even picture "Moravia" on a map. It sounds fictional, like some the kingdom of some character on the 80s primetime soap opera "Dynasty." Anyhow, the point is, I shoulda known. But even so, I have to suggest that BRNO / BLIXEN violates the Natick Principle (uncommon proper nouns crossing at a letter that is not inferrable). I was looking only for a vowel at the crossing, so I was a dead dead dead man. Also had never heard of the SAMI people (52D: Northern Scandinavian) or NOSE IN parking (67A: Like some parking), though the latter was easy to infer - thus, no disaster. I have never parked in any way other than NOSE IN. Other kinds of parking is news to me. I guess you can back in. Or park alongside a curb. There are names for these things?
The theme added a certain amount of ease to the puzzle (circled squares gotta be flowers, so they could often be filled in advance of knowing the whole answer), but that ease was completely taken away, and then some, by a challenging, wide-open grid with a lot of less-than-ordinary fill. The result was that there were very few parts of the puzzle that I sailed through. I was working the whole time, even when I was making steady progress. Didn't know a bunch of stuff, like STOLA (16D: Classical wrap) and GRAEME (80A: _____ Park, colonial Pennsylvania site near Philadelphia) and IHRE (63D: Their, in Munich). Didn't know GATOR as clued (94D: Nickname for Ron Guidry) - he was a lethal pitcher in the late 70s - and got OCARINA (103A: Harmonica-like instrument) only because of a near-death experience I had at the 2008 American Crossword Puzzle Tournament (ended up with the word, which I'd never heard of, and stuck with it ... thank god). I forget what I had at first for 87D: _____ group , in organic chemistry (acetyl), but I know it didn't involve a "Y." So, yes, much floundering. But (with the exception of BRNO/BLIXEN) all of it felt tough but fair. An above average Sunday workout. In honor of Young Caleb's gigantic achievement, I give you a very special (and very disturbing) version of "Young Americans":
- 23A: Five works of Mozart [Rhode Island] - VIOLIN CONCERTOS [VIOLET]
- 29A: Not completely settle an argument [New York]- AGREE TO DISAGREE [ROSE]
- 48A: "Revelations" choreographer [Utah] - ALVIN AILEY [LILY]
- 58A: Trial hearing? [Indiana] - EXPERT TESTIMONY [PEONY]
- 68A: It's never made with plastic [Ohio] - CASH TRANSACTION [CARNATION]
- 82A: Country singer with the #1 album and single "Killin' Time" [New Hampshire] - CLINT BLACK [LILAC]
- 95A: He played a Nazi in "Marathon Man" and a Nazi hunter in "The Boys from Brazil" [Connecticut] - LAURENCE OLIVIER [LAUREL]
- 108A: "Bye Bye Birdie" tune [California] - "PUT ON A HAPPY FACE" [POPPY]
- 1A: Source of some bangs (scalp) - True enough, but oddly anatomical
- 18A: Big name in wrapping (Alcoa) - so wanted SARAN
- 21A: Mario Puzo sequel ("Omerta") - such a crossword word
- 22A: Relatives of balalaikas (lutes) - eeks, balawhatnow?
- 28A: Like kibbutzim (Israeli) - seriously, the puzzle was testing the outer limits of my foreign language knowledge today
- 54A: Chinese dynasty before the Shang (Hsia) - Ha, this one I knew ... and by "knew" I mean "got because I had the "HS" already in place when I read the clue." The Shang sounds like a horrible space creature. Or a cool 60s dance.
- 35A: Noted 1960s flower child (Ono) - I've never associated her with the phrase "flower child." Makes me picture girls going to San Francisco and wearing flowers in their hair and putting flowers in the barrels of soldiers' guns.
- 112A: Accompanier of a harrow, in Harrow (plough) - a "harrow" is "A farm implement consisting of a heavy frame with sharp teeth or upright disks, used to break up and even off plowed ground" (answers.com)
- 44A: Subject of the biography "The Man Who Invented the Twentieth Century" (Tesla) - like NIELS Bohr (24D: Physicist Bohr), TESLA is a science guy who shows up a lot in puzzles.
- 66A: Duodecim (XII) - here, Latin didn't fail me ... unlike at 99D: Car with a name that's Latin for "I roll" (Volvo). Ugh. I've taken Latin. And I drive a VOLVO. So sad. I honestly considered TURBO (?)
- 88A: WrestleMania locales (arenas) - never understood this phenomenon. Also never understood NASCAR. In my mind, they occupy the same "sports" universe.
- 41A: _____ Lemon, Tina Fey's "30 Rock" character (Liz) - love love love this show. This answer was a total gimme. Not so lucky with OMAR (79A: _____ Little, "The Wire" gangster). I had "The Wire" queued up, but we're still working through "Rescue Me," so it'll have to wait.
- 101D: Elmer the Bull's mate (Elsie) - I had never thought of them mating. Thanks for the image.
- 109D: Album with the 1978 hit "Deacon Blues" ("Aja") - I've been reveling in 1978 music for reasons I'll explain some day. "AJA" is the biggest album in all of CrossWorld.
- 85A: "Carnaval sur la plage" artist (James Ensor) - he's not French. Why is his painting title French?
- 75A: Public squares in ancient Greece (agorae) - why does a Greek word have a Latin plural?
- 100D: Bygone Apple product (iBook) - my current computer will soon be a bygone Apple product. It's 6 years old. I yearn for the new.
- 38D: 9-3 and 9-5 car manufacturer (Saab) - Could have just called them the 6 and the 4 (speaking of subtraction - this week's Philadelphia Inquirer puzzle by Merle Reagle is a lot of fun)