43.359 kg — FRIDAY, Sep. 11 2009 — Old sitcom mechanic with the / Lithograph Mustache Hat / Domain of King Tyndareus / Pantheonic queen
Friday, September 11, 2009
Constructor: Caleb Madison
Relative difficulty: Easy
Word of the Day: FESS Parker (10A: Parker of "Old Yeller") — Fess Elisha Parker, Jr. (born August 16, 1924) is an American film and television actor best known for his 1950s portrayals of Davy Crockett for Walt Disney and of Daniel Boone in the late 1960s. He is also known as a wine maker and resort owner-operator. (wikipedia)
Fun, fast puzzle today from Mr. Madison. Full disclosure, I've been working on a puzzle with him off and an this summer (we just finished), so I probably had an unfair wavelength advantage today. My favorite thing about the puzzle is the unusual grid shape. It's got a crazy horizontality with that one central 15 (TRAINED ASSASSIN — 32A: One who has practiced his hitting skills) flanked by the longest blocks of black I think I've ever seen in a 15x15 grid, which are each in turn flanked by a 14 (CAR COMMERCIALS — 27A: They may convince people to get rides); and "SCHINDLER'S LIST" — 41A: Highest-grossing black-and-white film of all time). The white parts in the NW and SE appear to have been eaten into a bit by the black (there are a LOT more black squares here than we usually see on a Friday ... more even than we see in the vast majority of themed / early-week puzzles), so the challenge of conquering wide open spaces wasn't really there today. But the fill is buttery smooth and lively. I chipped my tooth on SAR (34D: Mediterranean isl.), and I guess I could do without SSS (56D: Indication of tire trouble) and CWT (27D: 43.359 kg.), but other than those answers the puzzle was a real pleasure to fill. No EUPHORIA (3D: High), but no annoyed exasperation either. Oh, except with ETAIL (30D: Business involving clicking), which I have a personal vendetta against. But that's none of your concern.
As is typical with late-week puzzles, this started slow. First thing that went in was the handy-dandy double-shot of Vitamin Z: BOYZ II MEN (21A: "I'll Make Love to You" Grammy winners) and BALZAC (9D: "La Cousine Bette" novelist). Nice crossing: sadly, in the novel, no one makes love to Bette and she turns, uh, vengeful. But back to the puzzle — I couldn't get the north at first, even after throwing BALZAC up there. Wanted GPS for MAP (5D: It might tell you where you stand) and CLEO (!?!?!) for JUNO (7D: Pantheonic queen). The latter idiocy is especially odd since I've been lecturing on JUNO all week. Aeneas is a good OBEYER (8D: One who's not refractory) of every god but JUNO, who keeps trying to crush him. The pairing of "Cousin Bette" and JUNO up there in the N is pretty apt — it's as if BOYZ II MEN is trying to appease the wrathful women. I assume they are failing, as that song is embarrassing.
Once I got CAR COMMERCIALS, I somehow figured out the N and then whipped through the first half of the puzzle. Had trouble rounding the corner on "SCHINDLER'S LIST because I had (again, mind-blowingly, idiotically) ALIA for ALSO (35D: "See" follower in a footnote), and so couldn't see the movie title at all with that incorrect "I" in there. That "I" really tripped in the other direction where I (a trained medievalist) had no idea what to make of 48A: Word on many medieval signs). A-DE?? AIDE? FIRSTE AIDE? WTF? Eventually rebooted in the SW with HALS (again, WTY? what is the likelihood of regaining your foothold with HALS? I was botching easy stuff but nailing weird stuff today) (61A: "Lucas de Clercq" portraitist, ca. 1635). Eventually got the Spielberg title and changed AIDE to OLDE, which probably wasn't as on as many medieval signs as people think (for one thing, the Middle Ages weren't "OLDE" to the people living in them). SW corner went down fast, and then the S, which I feared (thought it might be like the N), put up no fight at all. Done.
- 15A: Part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (Aruba) — I had PALAU here at first, to give you an idea of how my N started out.
- 17A: The lithograph "Mustache Hat" and others (Arps) — best lithograph name ever.
- 23A: Brickmaking mixture (loam) — I did not know that's what LOAM was for.
- 26A: Churchgoing times for many nonchurchgoers (Easters) — Part of the Mandatory Minimum for many Christians (see ALSO Christmas).
- 49A: Two-time Oscar winner for Best Adapted Screenplay (Mario Puzo) – good to see him in a puzzle whose marquee answer is about hitting people (32A).
- 57A: Either of two opposing war emblems (rose) — white/red, York/Lancaster. War of the Roses (the one that *didn't* star Danny DeVito).
- 63A: Old sitcom mechanic, with "the" (Fonz) — that is a Great clue, in that I idolized the FONZ for a couple years (ca. 1976-78) and yet the clue (which turns out to be perfect) made me draw a huge blank at first.
- 2D: Noted coward player (Bert Lahr) — usu. it's just the LAHR we see.
- 4D: Plays a sophomoric prank on, informally (TPs) — toilet papers. We did this as kids. My sisters did worse, but I won't say exactly what.
- 13D: Group of "nine-and-fifty" in a Yeats poem (swans) — didn't know it. Never read Yeats, and I doubt that fact will ever change.
- 25D: Big name in faucetry (Moen) — "faucetry" is a funny word.
- 39D: Jimmy Dorsey's "_____ Mine" ("Not") — wanted "I ME"; can't find this song, but here's one where Jimmy plays clarinet at a happy white Christian girl who then tells us how things are done in Harlem. Enjoy!
- 41D: Domain of King Tyndareus (Sparta) — I'm sure I knew this once, but not today. Needed a few crosses.
- 47D: Bomb's opposite (smash) — the answer that confirmed HALS.
- 53D: Maker of the 1923 "Teardrop" racer (Benz) — shares a terminal "Z" with FONZ. So much better than sharing a terminal "S."
Signed, Rex Parker, King of Crossworld
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