Charles IX's court poet / FRI 1-8-10 / Night light used by Sherlock Holmes / 1995 thriller identity theft / Quinquennial dance in Harry Potter
Friday, January 8, 2010
Constructor: Patrick Berry
Relative difficulty: Easy
Word of the Day: BULLS-EYE LANTERN (37A: Night light used by Sherlock Holmes)
— The Bullseye Lantern was a very popular tool used as early as the 13th century. It was an oil lit lantern that was encased in a tin box, with a refractive piece of glass that used the lit wick as its centerpiece, thus the name bullseye. As the Bullseye Lantern progressed, it became standard issue for Police in London, eventually made without oil and operated by battery and a light bulb. (how.com)
Ah, a nice, easy palate cleanser after two straight days of super-intense flavors. I did this on paper while lying in bed, so I don't know how long it took, but I know that once I got traction — which happened fairly quickly: C.I.A. (1D: Plame affair org.) to "I BET" (14A: Sarcastic reply) to ABS (2D: Things used during crunch time?) to ASFARASICANTELL (17A: "That's how it looks to me, anyway") ... — I never stopped writing for more than a few seconds until the puzzle was done. C.I.A to SEACOW (64A: Docile marine mammal) with nary a hiccup. I had to pause here and there, and do an end run around some recalcitrant answers, but all in all, no problems.
And oddly literary Friday, with three long answers from the world of literature, none of which I knew straight off. Guessed the end of BULLSEYE LANTERN, but had to wait for the middle part of it. Sounds familiar now that I see it, but it did not leap out at me. I am somewhat familiar with the work of PIERRE DE RONSARD (11D: Charles IX's court poet), having had a course in early French literature in college. Sadly for me, though, I couldn't tell you the first thing about Charles IX and anyway I knew PIERRE DE RONSARD as just RONSARD, so I had to get crosses down to the third "R" before "RONSARD" finally sprang to mind. Never read a Clive Cussler novel in my life, but as with PIERRE DE RONSARD, once I got the first two parts of the answer (RAISE THE), the third (TITANIC) went in easily (7D: Clive Cussler best seller made into a 1980 film). And yet "THE NET" was a gimme (19D: 1995 thriller about identity theft) Always somewhat alarming when literature fails me but 90s crap pop culture is BAM, right there.
Two curious aspects of this puzzle: its Amero-egocentrism and its nerdiness. Evidence for the former: Three different occurrences of AMERICA — AMERICAN INDIANS, the first "A" in AMA, and USA — and three different occurrences of the pronoun "I" — AS FAR AS I CAN TELL, I BET, I SEE. As for nerdiness, well, that's a bit more obvious. We got your "Lord of the Rings" (ORC — 8D: Member of Sauron's army), we got your Hogwart's (YULE — 13D: ___ Ball, quinquennial dance in Harry Potter), we got your Dungeons & Dragonsesque medieval literary classic (EDDA — 36A: 13th-century literary classic). "Monk" (32D: Monk's first name on "Monk" — ADRIAN), "South Park" (48A: "South Park" boy — KENNY) and Sherlock Holmes are on the outside edges of the nerd constellation as well. Good stuff.
- 41A: King defeated at Châlons (Attila) — he's somehow a very disguisable king. I typically go from "wha?" to "OH!" in a few crosses with him.
- 46A: Mason's assistant (Street) — probably an old clue, but I love it. Perry Mason, Della STREET. I love that both their names are common, unrelated words.
- 50A: 1950s-'60s actor known as the Switchblade Kid (Mineo) — got it before looking at the clue. Had the -NEO.
- 60A: French dip's dip (jus) — seen most commonly in the culinary phrase "au JUS."
- 61A: Chevy model discontinued in 2001 (Lumina) — Mmm, discontinued automobiles. A constructor's best friend. See also EDSEL and ALERO (any OLDS, in fact).
- 30D: Father Time's prop (scythe) — named for the Scythians who most famously wielded them. I just made that up, but now I'm going to see if it's right ... hmm. Found this: "According to Jack Herer and "Flesh of The Gods" (Emboden, W.A., Jr., Praeger Press, NY, 1974.); the ancient Scythians grew hemp and harvested it with a hand reaper that we still call a scythe." It's got a real citation and everything. Must be true.
- 51D: 1989 Radio Hall of Fame inductee (Imus) — I will always associate him with Cancun, as that is where I was when the scandal broke that got him kicked off of TV.
- 53D: Italian boxer Benvenuti (Nino) — never heard of him, and never even saw this clue. Scary. I really should check all the crosses, and usually on late-week puzzles I have to. Not today.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]