Physicist James / FRI 2-12-10 / 10-kilogauss units / Novelist who was lifelong friend of Capote / Sci-fi's Chief Chirpa / Hanukkah nosh
Friday, February 12, 2010
An azole is a class of five-membered nitrogen heterocyclic ring compounds containing at least one other non-carbon atom of either nitrogen, sulfur, or oxygen. The parent compounds are aromatic and have two double bonds; there are successively reduced analogs (azolines and azolidines) with fewer. One, and only one, lone pair of electrons from each heteroatom in the ring is part of the aromatic bonding in an azole. Names of azoles maintain the prefix upon reduction (such as pyrazoline, pyrazolidine), except for pyrrole, which has no -azole suffix and is reduced to pyrroline and pyrrolidine. The numbering of ring atoms in azoles starts with the heteroatom that is not part of a double bond, and then proceeds towards the other heteroatom. [if you stayed awake for all that, you're a better (wo)man than I am] (wikipedia)
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1A: 9 + 3 + 1 + 1/3 + 1/9 + ..., e.g. put me off this puzzle immediately, and once I lost that loving feeling, I never got it back— despite the fact that there is nothing really wrong with the puzzle at all. The grid is impressive in that obvious way that giant stacks of 15 always are. The fill is pretty solid given the (daunting) grid constraints imposed by said stacks (though it's really really hard to love a puzzle that hands you the gruesome twosome of ECHT (2D: German "genuine") and O'TEA (3D: "Cup ___" (1970s Don Williams song)) right off the bat). And yet it was way out of my wheelhouse and either arcane or dull to me. Too much math/science for me, and too much of it zzzzzzzzzzz boring. Here a JOULE (23D: Physicist James who contributed to the laws of thermodynamics), there an AZOLE (22D: Nitrogen compound), here some TESLAS (6D: 10-kilogauss units), there a GEOMETRIC SERIES, here a whatever. And so many of those answers (3) crammed in that tiny western section — I blanked on Harper LEE's name (39A: Novelist who was a lifelong friend of Capote), and paid dearly for it, as I found the section next-to-impossible to fill out without her. Literally half my solving time was spent just staring at that section. I'm sure thunderstorms produce OZONE, but ... yeah, that didn't come to mind (30A: Thunderstorm product). I don't even know what AZOLE is. I'm pronouncing it like "asshole." Is that wrong? I hope not. JOULE is some guy's name? Some guy who "contributed to" the laws of thermodynamics? Pretty vague. And then RAJAHS was clued with a cross-reference to a word that was *in this same damned section* (itself vaguely clued — ROYAL as a noun, 21D: One with subjects). Finally accepted ANKA (24D: He had a #4 hit with "It's Time to Cry") and then, facing -AHS at 21A: Some 21-Downs, just guessed RAJAHS ("What's a word I know that ends '-AHS'...?"). That fixed things.
Then there was the bottom half of the puzzle, which went down like a Wednesday. So, this was ... weird and uneven for me. But I fully admit this is more a matter of taste than a matter of substandard construction.
- 17A: Seminal naturalistic work ("The Descent of Man") — I know this is by Darwin (Happy Birthday, btw), but all I can think of is the poster showing a line of beings from apeman to homo sapiens ... and then I wasn't sure about "Descent," as it seems to connote devolution, a fall rather than a rise. I also initially misread the clue as [Semi-naturalistic work].
- 55A: 13-time Grey Cup winners (Edmonton Eskimos) — well, the EDMONTON part was easy from a few crosses (and knowing that the Grey Cup is Canada's Super Bowl). ESKIMOS ... was unexpected.
- 4D: Trend in 1970s fashion (midi) — pfft. Could've been anything as far as I was concerned. AFRO?
- 13D: "This ___ ... Then" (Jennifer Lopez album) ("Is Me") — that may be the most painful clue I've ever had to type.
- 25D: Hanukkah nosh (latke) — these always make me think of Andy Kaufman, who was familiar to me long before I'd ever heard of LATKEs.
- 27D: Odysseus saw him as a shade in the underworld (Orion) — yeah, he saw a lot of people. A LOT of people.
- 28D: Animated character who likes "Hello, Dolly!" songs (Wall-E) — I don't even understand the clue. There is a song (singular) called "Hello, Dolly!" I am not aware of there being a genre of songs called "Hello, Dolly!" songs. But then I haven't seen the movie in question. [I see now: songs from the *musical* named "Hello, Dolly!" ... ah, retrospect, why must things seem so obvious in you?]
- 25A: Tir à ___ (bow-and-arrow sport: Fr.) (l'arc) — seen it before, but it still beat me down today. Couldn't do a thing with it, and had every letter from crosses before I figured out how to parse it.
- 31D: Sci-fi's Chief Chirpa, e.g. (Ewok) — !?!? those things had names? Guessed this off the "W" — from YOU KNOW THE DRILL, which is by far my favorite answer in the grid (33A: Routine statement?).
- 48D: Lightman who wrote "Einstein's Dreams" (Alan) — ALAN Lightman is about as familiar to me as, say, Don Williams. That is, I've never heard of either. Lightman is the name of Tim Roth's character on "Lie to Me," which appears to have gone missing again. I really like that show.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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