Vultures were sacred to him — FRIDAY, Jul. 31 2009 — It contains 613 mitzvot / Oscar-nominated portrayer of Frida Kahlo / TV commentator Timex ads
Friday, July 31, 2009
- A commandment of the Jewish law.
- The fulfillment of such a commandment.
- A worthy deed.
[Hebrew miswâ, from siwwâ, to command.]-----
Another even shorter write-up today. Today's early morning errand: car to garage for new front brakes, alignment, oil/filter change, etc. Bah.
A mostly enjoyable Friday puzzle pitched to just the right level of difficulty. Maybe *slightly* on the easy side, but not significantly. This grid is less wide open than most late-week grids — no daunting stacks of long words, no harrowing blocks of white. And yet the puzzle still proved thorny, and still entertained. Had a little trouble getting started, but then I saw 17A: Oscar-nominated portrayer of Frida Kahlo (Salma Hayek), a nice long gimme that opened things right up. Before that, the only thing I had in the grid was ARM (4D: The Adriatic vis-a-vis the Mediterranean), and I wasn't very sure of that. SALMA HAYEK plays Jack's (Alec Baldwin's) girlfriend on "30 Rock" and is hilarious. I've never liked her more than on that show. HAYEK turned AMIN to SHAH (14D: Onetime C.I.A.-backed foreign leader), and the NW went down fairly easily, with only DOYENNE (6D: Helen Thomas in the White House press corps). I do not like the word DOYENNE. Or MAVEN. Or MAUVE, for that matter, but that's not really relevant here.
After escaping the NW, I ran into only one more trouble spot: LEYDEN JAR (32D: It might store an electric charge). Turns out ... I don't know what that is. This probably should have been the word of the day, but I don't have time to change things at this point:
Leyden jar (lī'dən) , form of capacitor invented at the Univ. of Leiden in the 18th cent. It consists of a narrow-necked glass jar coated over part of its inner and outer surfaces with conductive metal foil; a conducting rod or wire passes through an insulating stopper in the neck of the jar and contacts the inner foil layer, which is separated from the outer layer by the glass wall. By modern standards, the Leyden jar is cumbersome and inefficient. It is rarely used except in laboratory demonstrations of capacitance.
So I had to hack my way through the SE, getting most of LEYDEN JAR through crosses. Then we came to the bitter end, where I had the weird experience of having not one but two single-letter shoot-outs at the end: one minor, one major. First, there was the "C" at the intersection of CHAIRS (43A: Heads up) / CELLED (43D: Single-_____). I had to back that "C" into a corner before it would show itself. But the even squirmier letter in the south, and my final letter overall, was the "W" in BOW (56D: It comes after the last number) / WED (62A: Bond). Had to run through the alphabet for that one — and like FA, that's a long long way to run.
- 6A: Factory staple (die) — Friday cluing. Felt like it could have been anything.
- 21A: What a player may mean by knocking on the table ("I pass") — poker, I presume. Not my game.
- 26A: Subject of the 1955 film "The Last Command" (Alamo) — more Friday cluing. If ALAMO gets a film clue, it's usually as the title of the John Wayne movie.
- 29A: Band members with long necks? (sitars) — never think of these being part of a "band."
- 31A: Many students on "Gilmore Girls" (Elis) — never seen it, but knew it had something to do with Yale.
- 32A: It's 11 miles NNW of JFK (LGA) — sure seemed longer by car.
- 37A: Roll top? (schmear) — great clue. Very difficult to make sense of.
- 42A: Early TV news commentator famous for doing Timex ads (Swayze) — I remember a Timex ad with Shari Belafonte (from my childhood) where she referred to Swayze and I had No idea what she was talking about.
- 56A: Comics character with a "gang" (Bazooka Joe) — he always looks good in the grid.
- 60A: Passage enabler ("open sesame") — more tough cluing. I thought the answer would have something to do with passing legislation.
- 63A: City in 1917 headlines (Ypres) — Site of WWI battle.
- 15D: Plumber seen in an arcade (Mario) — got his start in Donkey Kong, but then ended up in all kinds of Mario Bros. games for Nintendo.
- 23D: Computer debut of 1998 (iMac) — just read article about all the free advertising Apple is giving NYT in its iPhone ads. Beginning to think Apple's products are also given crossword friendly names so that they have yet another way to keep their product names in front of people on a regular basis. Really, how often do you see ZUNE in the puzzle? Now IPOD? See what I mean? Sinister.
- 27D: Slimming option, for short (lipo) — -suction
- 30D: Fast Eddie's girlfriend in "The Hustler" (Sarah) — about the most obscure clue on SARAH that I've ever seen.
- 34D: Vultures were sacred to him (Ares) — why "were?" Why not "are?" If he's a god, and immortal, then he still likes his vultures.
- 58D: "My baby at my breast," in Shakespeare (asp) — HA ha, gruesome. Love it.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]
P.S. my write-up of today's Scrabbletastic LAT puzzle is here.