Moon-landing vehicles for short — MONDAY, Jan. 4 2010 — Highlands denials / Windbag's output / Melville work set in Tahiti
Monday, January 4, 2010
Constructor: Paula Gamache
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: "BEAR FRUIT" (37A: Be productive ... or what the answers at 17-, 25-, 53- and 63-Across do) — theme answers all idiomatic phrases with fruits in them
Word of the Day: AB OVO (32D: From the beginning, in Latin) —
Ab ovo (Latin: "from the beginning,the origin,the egg") is a reference to one of the twin eggs of Leda and Zeus disguised as a swan from which Helen was born. Had Leda not laid the egg, Helen would not have been born, so Paris could not have eloped with her, so there would have been no Trojan War etc. // The English literary use of the phrase comes from Horace's Ars Poetica, where he describes his ideal epic poet as one who "does not begin the Trojan War from the double egg" (nec gemino bellum Troianum orditur ab ouo), the absolute beginning of events, the earliest possible chronological point, but snatches the listener into the middle of things (in medias res). (wikipedia)
Very slightly tougher than the usual Monday ... no, SCRAP that (5A: Leftover cloth bit). It's just as easy as any Monday, but my time is slightly longer than usual because (I'm guessing) there's just so damned much white space. An astonishingly open grid for a Monday, with a pretty low black square count and banks of seven-letter words in every corner. My only problems were in the middle, where a. I didn't know what a "locust tree" was (25D: Locust tree feature -> THORN), b. I typoed AB OVO as AD OVO, and c. couldn't make heads or tails of the central theme answer, which has a pretty vague clue on it (see also b. ... "DEAR FRUIT? ... that's the weirdest letter opening I ever heard of"). Like the wide open spaces in this grid, but didn't think much of the theme at all. Felt really straightforward and plain. No OOHS or AWS from me. No WAH either. Just ... a shrug.
- 17A: Reaction of a sore loser (sour grapes)
- 25A: Head honcho (top banana) — started to write in BRASS at first ...
- 53A: They protect car buyers (lemon laws) — weird: this answer uses the law to relate to a fruit theme, and somewhere out there today (I won't say where) there's a a LEMON answer that uses the fruit to relate to a law theme. True story.
- 63A: Select the best and leave the rest (cherry pick)
Hiccups at REPRO (7D: Copy, for short), which I've never liked. Brain fired with "REPO" :( ... Had OHOS for OOHS. Later, considered BEER something before BREW something for 41D: Anheuser-Busch, for one (brewery). Otherwise, piece of cake. Lovely corners. Looking forward to a more interesting theme tomorrow.
- 10A: Moon-landing vehicles, for short (LEMs) — Lunar Excursion Modules, a common bit of short fill.
- 43A: Highlands denials (naes) — Scots are always good for an "AE" word or two. Or six.
- 60A: "The ___ Bunch" of 1970s TV ("Brady") — I'm not sure the "of 1970s TV" is really necessary. "WILD" doesn't fit, thus ... "BRADY." Maybe shorten to just [TV's "The ___ Bunch"].
- 1D: Windbag's output (gas) — no. A GASBAG puts out gas. A WINDBAG puts out wind. That's why they have the names they have.
- 22D: Jean-Bertrand Aristide's country (Haiti) — completely blanked on this guy, but HAITI was easy enough to get with just a couple crosses. It appears that his current country is not HAITI but South Africa.
See you tomorrow.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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