SATURDAY, Jun. 27 2009 — Influential 1996 video game / Actress co-starring in TV's Burn Notice / Cocktails lacking hard liquor / RICO Act enforcer
Saturday, June 27, 2009
- Of, relating to, or resembling milk.
- Anatomy. Of or relating to any of numerous minute intestinal lymph-carrying vessels that convey chyle from the intestine to lymphatic circulation and thereby to the thoracic duct.
A lacteal vessel.
[From Latin lacteus, from lac, lact-, milk.]This one was easy around the edges, with a mild squares of death in the middle. The corners went down so fast that I don't remember working on them at all. I had an embarrassing revelation in the NE when I couldn't understand why I'd never heard of a poet called ANGELO [insert initial] ... and then I got the "U" (from SELF-CONSCIOUS -> 31A: Uncomfortable, in a way). Oh, right. Maya ANGELOU (12D: "Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'Fore I Diiie" poet). Not that obscure after all.
But that's the only hiccup I had in any of the corners. The real issue for me was a roughly square area with 23A: Henchmen at the top and 46A: Yellow squares, perhaps at the bottom. This area was a bear. I had several answers traversing it — BLESS ME FATHER (35A: Start of a confession) and ANCESTOR (24D: Genealogical discovery) came quickly — but my inability to get SELF-CONSCIOUS and, especially, EYE CHART (the key to the whole thing) forced me to push letters around a bit in there. Wanted an "S" on the end of 26D: They have connections (kin), which hurt. Actually wrote in ELEPHANT once at 21D: It begins with an E (in two ways) and then tried desperately to figure out why it made sense (it didn't). Every F-starting gov. abbrev. in the world came to me at 39D: RICO Act enforcer except FBI. And I honestly never knew that TOMB RAIDER was a video game. I knew the movies were based on something ... now I know (43A: Influential 1996 video game). Still, this center-square problem was a problem only by comparison to the rest of the puzzle, which was cake.
EYE CHART!!!! I had E-ECHA-- and went through the alphabet to try to make sense of that second letter. Y, as you might know, is quite near the end of the alphabet.
Opening gambit: DO RAGS - GIA - AMIS. NW was done in about 30 seconds. Couldn't figure out 29D: Some pellets (sleet) and so had to reboot completely in the SW, which was, again, not hard. CHRIST - HIC - CRAT. SW up in flames. BLESS ME FATHER took me to the east coast, where I worked into the NE via the HO CHI Minh Trail (30D: _____ Minh). HOOD - HORSED - EAGER etc. Up here was the small ANGELOU snag, and one of two pop culture WTFs?!!? First, "Pushing Daisies" has been canceled. It ran for 22 episodes. LEE Pace is light years from a household name (27A: "Pushing Daisies" star _____ Pace). The show was critically acclaimed, to some extent, but ... I mean, not enough people watched it to keep it on the air, and even those people probably don't know the actors' names. Sharon GLESS's name I know, but not not not from whatever "Burn Notice" is (10D: Actress co-starring in TV's "Burn Notice"). Putting both those actors in one corner seems like contemporary marginal pop culture overload. And if you're overloading ME, that's saying something. But in the end, I didn't really struggle, so I can't complain too much.
Hammered away at the center, and once that broke, I entered the SE, expecting a fight, but not getting one. All three long Acrosses went over easily. Last letter was the "A" in UVA (47A: Sch. founded by a president) / RAVERS (44D: Movie critics, sometimes).
- 19A: Author of "Time's Arrow," 1991, a novel written in reverse chronological order (Amis) — TMI. The part where you describe the novel is trivia and does nothing to help solvers get the answer. You know "Time's Arrow" = AMIS or you don't. Not that trivia isn't interesting; it just feels gunky when it's used unnecessarily in a clue.
- 33A: Quebec's Festival d'___ (Été) — lots of easy short stuff like this in the puzzle. I didn't *know* it, but it's the first and only answer that came to me. Three letters, French, starts with vowel...
- 45A: Drink whose name suggests its vitamin content (Hi-C) — more easy short stuff.
- 48A: Receiver of some contributions (Roth IRA) — liked this. Hard to parse if you come at it from the front. From the back, a bit easier.
- 50A: Year that Acre fell in the First Crusade (MCIV) — knowing the First Crusade started in MXCVI helped narrow things down a little.
- 58A: Contents of a certain household box (cat litter) — breakfast test! ILL AT EASE! (52A: Uncomfortable).
- 5D: Hero of "Boyz N the Hood" (Tre) — never saw this clue. I saw the movie. Not sure I would have remembered the kid's name.
- 25D: Budgetary bigwig, for short (CFO) — off the "F" in SETS ON FIRE (28A: Lights). Still didn't help me get LACKEYS (23A: Henchmen). Kept wanting BACKERS (!?).
- 50D: Birthplace of poet Paul Verlaine (Metz) — METZ is easy to get. I recommend having the last three letters already in place before you ever look at the clue.
- 55D: BBC's Sports Personality of the Century (Ali) — yeah, he probably deserves that.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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