Onetime snake venom antidote — SATURDAY, Dec. 26 2009 — Gracklelike bird / 1999 Oscar nominee for both direction screenwriting / Apres-midi preceder
Friday, December 25, 2009
Constructor: Kevin G. Der
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
Word of the Day: THERIAC (42D: Onetime snake venom antidote) — Theriac or theriaca was a medical concoction originally formulated by the Greeks in the first century AD and became popular throughout the ancient world as far away as China and India via the trading links of the Silk Route. It was an alexipharmic, or antidote, considered a universal panacea, for which it could serve as a synonym: Adam Lonicer wrote that garlic was the rustics' Theriac or Heal-All. (wikipedia)
My write-ups for the next four to five days are likely to be slightly abbreviated, as I am a. on vacation, b. in a different time zone, and thus c. writing this at night so as not have to get up at a Ridiculously early hour. Today's puzzle was weird for me — good, but weird. I usually block the constructor's name when I'm solving, and today I could tell pretty quickly that the constructor was going to end up being one of the younger constructors I like a lot. But usually I tear these very contemporary, somewhat pop culture-heavy puzzles up. Today, not really. A slightly slower than normal Saturday time. Even with gimmes like ABE and MONA, TONY DOW, RON Weasley, etc. I still couldn't get good traction in many parts of the grid. Clues were pretty wicked in places, and some answers were just mysteries. So I got a fresh, modern puzzle *and* a better-than-avg. workout. All in all, a good Saturday.
- ABE and MONA — Homer Simpson's dad and mom
- MATIN (7D: Après-midi preceder)
- WINE COOLER (65A: Bartles & Jaymes product) — super gimme. Their ads were legendary.
- CHI (38A: Acupuncturist's energy)
- TONY DOW (41D: He played Beaver's big brother)
- CHERUBIM (13D: Guardians of Eden, in Genesis)
- EMT (49A: Stretcher fetcher, briefly)
- VAN (43A: Something to move with)
- RON (29D: Friend of Hermione's at Hogwarts)
- BAO (39D: Vietnam's ___ Dai) — never heard of this ... person. Turns out it's a person. Wasn't sure if it was a person, a location, a ... holiday? He was "the 13th and last ruler of the Nguyen dynasty."
- FRED (18A: Scrooge's nephew) — forgot. Shoulda been in yesterday's puzzle.
- APO (61D: V-mail handler) — knew APO, but had no idea what "V-mail" was (Victory Mail, WWII-era communication)
- THERIAC (42D: Onetime snake venom antidote)
- ACADIAN (6D: Evangeline, e.g.) — She's the subject of a Longfellow poem. Just not on my radar.
- ERLE (52A: "House of Dracula" director ___ C. Kenton) — alternative to Gardner.
- TASTE (34D: Old cigarette ad buzzword) — ??? don't all cigarette ads talk about "TASTE." I was looking for ... Q ZONE or some other made-up medical term.
I got into the NE pretty easily, but I had issues in most other places, esp. the NW, where I couldn't get the front end of any of those Acrosses, and knew too much so-called Valspeak to be able to make a solid guess at 2D: Start of many a comment in Valspeak ("I'M LIKE") — I had "HE'S ALL" and "HE GOES" at some point. Main other hang-up was in the SW, where I had ARNE for IVES (40A: "Universe Symphony" composer), and wouldn't accept LET ON because I thought it meant the opposite of the clue, 35A: Pretend. That is, I thought it meant "reveal" rather than "pretend." Bah. One I figured out the trickery of 36D: Saint in "Exodus" (Eva Marie), the corner opened up, with a nice double-Z revelation at the end of LIVE JAZZ (35D: Some lounge entertainment).
- 5D: First name at Woodstock (Jimi) — tried ARLO and JOAN first.
- 28A: One who's hitched, in Hidalgo (señora) — tried ESPOSA/O first.
- 22D: Defendant in a 1970s antitrust suit: Abbr. (ITT) — tried IBM first.
- 39A: Sunburn remedies (balms) — tried ALOES first.
- 15A: Edward James Olmos's directorial debut, 1992 ("American Me") — happy with myself for (finally) remembering this. Couldn't get "Stand By Me" or "Stand and Deliver" out of my head.
- 30A: Cause of rage against the machine? ("Tilt") — a great "?" clue, as is 17A: Frames that take shape? (claymation)
- 8D: 1999 Oscar nominee for both direction and screenwriting (M. Night Shyamalan) — seen it, so it's not that exciting to me as 15s go. I'm not a fan, generally.
- 9D: Alternative to grunge (emo) — seems wrong. These genres are from two totally different eras. "EMO" is actually as old as grunge, but it had no currency in the general population until a good decade+ after grunge's heyday. Also, these genres are not unrelated.
- 24D: Schools where students wear white (dojos) — in retrospect, it should not have taken me as long to get this as it did.
- 26D: Letters after many animal names (EIEIO) — ditto.
- 60D: Gracklelike bird (ani) — I don't think I've seen the word "gracklelike" before. I like grackles because they are black but with this cool bluish tint.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]
P.S. In case you missed it yesterday, I constructed another puzzle for you all. It was inspired by a comment on this blog in which the commenter confessed to having initially misunderstood the theme of this past Sunday's puzzle, "Inside Dope." Thus, I offer you "Inside Dope, Part 2." Enjoy.
Go HERE to read a brief write-up of the puzzle, or to comment on it.
[as always, click on "Print" below, or go here (to the forum at crosswordfiend.com) to get a .puz / AcrossLite version of the puzzle]