Japanese eel rice dish / TUE 4-20-10 / Jug handle in archaeology / Sapporo competitor / Unctuos flattery / Emirate dweller / Fancy equine coif
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Constructor: Paula Gamache
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: What, no Kenny Mayne? — all theme answers have some homophone of "MAYNE" as their last word/syllable
Word of the Day: UNADON (47D: Japanese eel and rice dish) —
An Unadon (鰻丼 lit. "eel bowl", less commonly spelled "unagidon") is a popular donburi (rice bowl) dish made with unagi kabayaki, grilled eel coated with a sweet sauce. // Variations include unajū (鰻重, a very similar dish served in a black box rather than a donburi bowl), nagayaki (長焼き, the eel and rice are served separately), and hitsumabushi (櫃まぶし). // There are two styles of grilled eel. One is the Kantō region Style (関東式), in which the eel is roasted first, smothered, and finally grilled with sauce. The other is the Kansai Region Style (関西式), which is grilled with sauce only. It is traditional to add sanshō (山椒, Sichuan pepper) as a condiment. // Unadon takes its name from the Japanese words Unagi no Kabayaki (鰻の蒲焼, literally "grilled eel") and donburi (for rice bowl dish).
I was very sluggish on this one, first because I couldn't figure out which CHARLES was the king in question — it wasn't any CHARLES, but CHARLEMAGNE — and second because I've never heard of UNADON ... or so I thought — here's what I wrote about UNADON last time it showed up, over two years ago:
69D: Japanese eel and rice dish (unadon) - great-looking word. Surprised I couldn't get this. I thought my sushi vocabulary was pretty strong. [UNADON is not sushi - it's a rice bowl with grilled eel. Rice bowl = donburi. Hey, I used to live in Danbury.]
Constructor of that puzzle from two years ago: Paula Gamache. Apparently she has special dispensation to use this word. And this clue. One of the perks of working for The Man, I guess :) There was also some obviously intentional trick cluing, like 21A: River that ends in Cairo for OHIO and 45D: Excessively fast for STARVE. Don't normally see blatant, cheap trickery on a Tuesday. Everything came together OK, it just took a bit longer than normal. That SE corner will likely cause at least a little trouble for someone. BRAIDED MANE doesn't exactly trip off the tongue (for non-equestrians), and shoving UNADON and ANSA (57D: Jug handle, in archaeology) in the same small corner of the grid seems designed to kick a few newbies in the groin. Nearly got my groin, frankly, as I ran all the Downs down there and came up with nonsense — this because I had RIND for PARE (56D: Peel), another trick(y) clue.
The theme was ... a theme. No strong feelings about it. Grid was unremarkable to me except for PRIVATE EYE (11D: Philip Marlowe or Sam Spade), which I like.
- 17A: King who was son of Pepin the Short (CHARLEMAGNE)
- 23A: Post-copyright status (PUBLIC DOMAIN)
- 37A: La Choy product (CHICKEN CHOW MEIN)
- 49A: Easternmost U.S. capital (AUGUSTA, MAINE)
- 60A: Fancy equine coif (BRAIDED MANE)
- 41A: Russian country house (DACHA) — Probably learned this from "Anna Karenina." Or from crosswords. Equally plausible.
- 65A: Pothook shape (ESS) — Knew the answer instantly, but realize I have no idea what a "pothook" is: not surprisingly, "Pothooks are S-shaped metal hooks for suspending a pot over a fire" (wikipedia)
- 1D: Classic record label for Bee Gees and Cream (ATCO) — this is actually a gimme now. Started out, only a few months back, as a mystery, but I've seen it at least twice since. As with the UNADON clue, this one is recycled verbatim from its last appearance (January).
- 3D: Emirate dweller (ARAB) — had the "A" and instinctively started writing AMIR ...
- 7D: Sapporo competitor (ASAHI) — weird. SAPPORO was in the grid yesterday. Also, yesterday, I had no trouble coming up with ASAHI as the other Japanese beer I know. But today, I blanked. "A ... A... A-something!" Ooh, I know KIRIN too. That might have been my first guess here. Look out for that one.
- 8D: ___ Johnson (MAGIC) — took me an Embarrassingly long time to get this, esp. considering that I'm slowly working my way through "When the Game Was Ours," his and Larry Bird's book about their rivalry.
- 22D: Unctuous flattery (SMARM) — I know this word only with the appended, adjectival "Y." Nearly put a "W" in that first "M"'s place without even looking at the clue.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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