945-liter units — FRIDAY, Dec. 11 2009 — Petra's population / Pfizer rival / Winner seven Tonys 1980 / Old lampshade material
Friday, December 11, 2009
Lydia (Assyrian: Luddu; Greek: Λυδία) was an Iron Age kingdom of western Asia Minor located generally east of ancient Ionia in the modern Turkish provinces of Manisa and inland İzmir. Its population spoke an Anatolian language known as Lydian. // At its greatest extent, the Kingdom of Lydia covered all of western Anatolia. Lydia was later the name for a Roman province. Coins were invented in Lydia around 610 BC. // Aside from a legend related by Herodotus, who states that the name Lydia came from king Lydus at the time of the fall of Troy (the Bronze Age), and that Lydus' brother Tyrrhenus led the Tyrrhenians (Etruscans) to Italy, the name Lydia is limited to Greek and Assyrian records and Biblical passages no earlier than the 8th century BC. It seems to be associated with Guggu of Luddu (Gyges) in Assyrian records, who acceded to the throne about 680 BC as the first of the Mermnad Dynasty. (wikipedia)
Solid! Solid as ... something possessed of STONINESS (5A: Lack of pity). Doesn't Petra (and its population of EDOMITES — 34D: Petra population) have something to do with stone? Yes, petra is the Greek word for "rock," hence the word "petrify" (turn to stone).
I made measured but steady progress through this one, with the tough spots being, oddly, the thinnest parts of the stacks in the NE and SW corners. Usually those thin parts (3-ltr words) are where I get my footing, allowing me to tear the corner up from the inside, but today I had to converge on those sections, trapping them from either end such that they were forced to quit their SIEGE (15D: Long period, as of illness) and surrender or die in a hail of gunfire. Thankfully, it didn't come to that.
NO CHEESE ON ME in the NW, as ON ME came to me instantly and I somehow remembered that ELSA went with Wagner (4D: Wagner's _____ of Brabant). The double dose of remedial biblicality up there (ACTS, IS IT I?) helped bring that corner down pretty easily, as did the somewhat-less-than-biblical MOTEL SIX (though people know each other biblically there all the time, I'm guessing) (3D: Chain whose name derives from its original room rate). Threw DAVID SEDARIS down with no crosses (19D: "When You Are Engulfed in Flames" essayist), and then stalked the NE. Slow going at first. Couldn't enter from the west so went looking for something on the interior to give me help. NOME! Hey, I can see Russia from here. Sweet. That "M" was all I needed to get IAN FLEMING (17A: "The Diamond Smugglers" author, 1957) (the initial "I" was already in place). "Diamond" was a big help there because it recalled FLEMING's "Diamonds Are Forever," but turns out "The Diamond Smugglers" is actually a non- (pre-) Bond book. Anyhoo, with FLEMING in place, the NE was engulfed in flames. Of note: SNUFF BOXES (15A: Pinch sources). Good stuff.
Had trouble coming through LYDIA (!). First mistake was putting -ED on the *end* of 39A: Entangled by. Left me LYDEA and LADED and ended up making 39A end in -EDED (unlikely). Decided that first "ED" must be the end of the first word in a two-word phrase, and settled into MIRED IN. Then I set to work on the SW just as I had in the NE. Had it framed but couldn't get in right away. Put in MOVE ON and then EVITA, but really didn't trust the latter (46A: Winner of seven Tonys in 1980). Thought 40D was ICE something, but somehow didn't know what to do with ICI---? Made me doubt the second "I" rather than make me see the (obvious) ICICLE (40D: Danger during a thaw). My mama did not done TOLE me about TOLE (47D: Old lampshade material), British awards are random letter COLLISIONS to me (51D: Award instituted by Queen Victoria: Abbr.), and in my world BIC makes only lighters and pens (52D: Glue stick brand) — so that 10/10/9 stack stayed mostly hollow for a bit until I hacked away at the (mercifully gettable) Acrosses. Done and done, in a slightly (but not appreciably) lower-than-avg time.
- 6D: 945-liter units (tuns) — another of those dastardly shorties. I don't think in liters, let alone 945-liter units. I know a TUN as a wine cask, and apparently wine was the liquid being measured when the TUN (as a unit of measurement) got its name.
- 29D: "Around the World in 80 Days" star, 1956 (Niven) — I think it's kind of criminal on my part that the only David NIVEN film I can recall seeing off the top of my head is ... none. I wanted to say "Star Wars," but that was Alec Guinness. I will have to Netflix some NIVEN later today.
- 35D: Suze Orman recommendations (Roth IRAs) — Oprah meets Dr. Laura meets your money.
- 42D: Pfizer rival (Merck) — they make a Manual that is grrrreat for hypochondriacs.
- 49D: Complain (yawp) — the one part of the grid that nearly made me YAWP. YAWP! Yikes. That "W" gave me fits because WEAN didn't feel like it needed the OFF I was being told went with it, and I don't know a damn thing about ANT types (54D: Leaf cutter, e.g.). Finally, on the eventual undeniability of WEAN, I went with YAWP and ANT. Good move. Might have YAWPed about YNEZ, but it was weirdly inferrable for me (36D: California's Santa _____ Valley).
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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