THURSDAY, Jun 11 2009 — 1775 flag motto / Poker Champ Ungar / Film character played by full-blooded Cherokee
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Constructor: Alex Boisvert
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: uh ... Flag Day (Jun. 14)? — Puzzle Note: "After finishing this puzzle, color the circled squares blue, and color all the Across answers containing an "R" red, to reveal an image related to the puzzle's theme." That image = U.S. flag of 1777-95
Word of the Day: HUGGER-MUGGER (12D: Hugger-mugger => SLY) — n.
- Disorderly confusion; muddle.
- Secrecy; concealment.
- Disorderly; jumbled.
- Secret; clandestine.
v., -gered, -ger·ing, -gers. v.tr.
To keep secret; conceal.v.intr.
To act in a secretive manner.
[Origin unknown.] (answers.com)
As is typical with puzzle notes, I didn't read this one until after I was done. I could see the flag concept early, but thought the circles were supposed to be the stars and wondered when it was that our flag had twelve stars. Turns out you have to color those circles blue and then (note doesn't mention this) imagine the circles away. The remaining white squares in that 5x5 section in the NW are the stars, arranged in a pattern I've never seen. Wikipedia (everyone's favorite "knowledge" cheat sheet) tells me that the stars on the flag were arranged in that pattern for almost 18 years (Jun 14 1777 - May 1 1795). How that particular flag relates to the earlier "DON'T TREAD ON ME" flag, or MOUNT RUSHMORE, or the song "AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL," I'm not entirely sure. I thought for a bit that the theme might be "Hyperbolic Patriotism." An ATOZ of Americana, maybe. I don't know. Normally I'm not a fan of the "do something crafty to your puzzle when you're finished" variety of puzzle, but this puzzle's coloring instructions highlight a very interesting and admirable feat of construction. Love the novel shape of the grid as well. A lovely, unusual Thursday puzzle.
- 30A: "Heads for the hills" locale? (Mount Rushmore) — not sure I get the quotation in the clue. I mean, I get that MOUNT RUSHMORE features "heads," and "Head for the hills" is a common expression, but is "Heads for the hills" a phrase I'm supposed to know?
- 36A: Whence "Thine alabaster cities gleam" lyric ("America the Beautiful") — threw it across with just the first four letters in place. I don't know this lyric.
- 49A: 1775 flag motto ("Don't Tread on Me") - Gadsden flag
Lots of actors and acting-related clues today — maybe that's true of any day, but the preponderance of actors really jumped out at me today.
- 35A: Actress Mendes (Eva)
- 47A: Kilmer of "Batman Forever" (Val)
- 56A: Actress Moran and others (Erins)
- 58A: Lucy of "Kill Bill" (Liu)
Then there's the related:
- 17A: Film character played by a full-blooded Cherokee (Tonto) - I'm sure it's just me, but the phrase "full-blooded" here seems kind of dehumanizing. He's a man, not a breed of dog. Is "Cherokee" really not enough?
- 16D: "The Terminator" man Kyle _____ (Reese)
- 32D: "Law & Order" spinoff, informally (SVU) - which, as I've probably told you all by now, I like to call "SUV." I've seen maybe one or two episodes of the entire "L&O" franchise in my life. And I'm a huge crime fiction fan.
- 62D: "The Wire" shower - now this I want to watch. Still. Netflix queue appears to be moving slowly. Must watch more movies. Or quit moving "Sabrina the Teenage Witch" to the top of the queue.
- 1A: Bikini blast (A-test) - A gimme that helped me get going. I knew it was blank-TEST, and that was enough to set me on my way.
- 13A: Track branch (spur) - ??? ... a "SPUR track" is "A short side track that connects with the main track of a railroad system" (answers.com). I see... now.
- 21A: Ferrari competitor (Lotus) - no idea why this make of car should have stuck in my head at any time in my life, but it did.
- 26A: Trendy prefix (eco-) - Not sure I like the tone of this clue, but it's accurate enough.
- 33A: It may be fired (tile) - uh ... in that way that anything ceramic might be "fired" in a kiln, sure.
- 59A: Drunk's woe, with "the" (DTs) - the puzzle's lexicon of drunkenness is vast and colorful.
- 68A: Pupil, in Picardie (élève) - because "Paris" would have been too obvious?
- 1D: Hawk's home (Atlanta) - the ATLANTA Hawks are a (historically not great) basketball team.
- 50D: Jazz's Peterson (Oscar) - musical interlude
- 6D: "Air Music" composer (Rorem) - he is, for me, the official composer of CrossWorld. I learned his name from crosswords, and knowing it has been useful.
- 31D: _____ Leon (Mexican state bordering Texas) (Nuevo) - guessed it off the "EV" and then confirmed it off the "U" (in STU - 34A: Poker champ Ungar)
- 39D: Oil production site? (atelier) - cute clue. ATELIER = artist's studio, "oil" = oil painting.
- 41D: Stately thing in Browning's "Oh, to be in England ..." (elm tree) - goes nicely with ELMER (56D: Whom Bugs bugs).
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld