Nut with cupule / THU 4-15-10 / Howdah occupant maybe / Sneaker symbol / Unit proposed by Leucippus / Crop farmer of Genesis
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Constructor: Brendan Emmett Quigley & Joon Pahk
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: -ER to -A — familiar names / phrases with "ER"-ending words are reimagined as wacky names / phrases with "A"-ending words
Word of the Day: Taiga (17A: Areas in northern forests? => TAIGA WOODS) —
Taiga (pronounced /ˈtaɪɡə/, Russian: тайга́; from Turkic or Mongolian) is a biome characterized by coniferous forests. Covering most of the inlands Canada, Alaska, Sweden, Finland, inland Norway, the Scottish Highlands and Russia (especially Siberia), as well as parts of the extreme northern continental United States (northern Minnesota, Michigan's Upper Peninsula, northern Wisconsin, Upstate New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine), northern Kazakhstan, northern Mongolia, and northern Japan (Hokkaidō), the taiga is the world's largest terrestrial biome. (wikipedia)
Not much time this a.m. So, let's see. I really liked this puzzle, despite doing it in a daze at 5:30 a.m. Because of said daze, I'm not exactly sure how tough it was, but it felt toughish. If I had known what TAIGA was, perhaps it would have felt less so. Also, if I'd spelled RADAMES (40A: "Celeste Aida" singer) properly, instead of going for RAMADES, things might have moved along more quickly. At any rate, all the theme answers except the central one (blah) are snappy and even funny. And I'm always happy to end on Batman, so thumbs up.
- 17A: Areas in northern forests? (TAIGA WOODS) — from "Tiger Woods," who frequently sports a SWOOSH (42D: Sneaker symbol)
- 23A: Chatty bird alliance? (MYNAH LEAGUE) — from "minor league"
- 35A: Time when laboratories came into vogue? (EXPERIMENTAL ERA) — from "experimental error"
- 47A: Witch's hamper? (WICCA BASKET) — from "wicker basket"
- 56A: Heavenly food for the Duke? (WAYNE MANNA) — from "Wayne Manor" (as in "Bruce Wayne," as in "Batman"); this took me a bit, as I was thinking, "OK, a duke lives in a manor ..." But it's "THE Duke," i.e. John Wayne.
- Amos had a last name? —> JONES (21A: Amos of "Amos 'n' Andy"). Rather than evoke the era of blackface, I'd have gone in, say, this direction:
- Erased "J" in JONES because I couldn't make sense of 21D: Beetle's cousin? and figured no beetle started with "J" ... I was right. Not a beetle. A car related to the (Volkswagen) Beetle, i.e. JETTA
- Wanted CASING at 20A: Digging further, say (NOSIER), then got CASED at 48D: Scoped out.
- SW was by far the easiest part of the puzzle. Never saw any of the Acrosses except OPRAH (52A: Co-producer of the film "Precious"). Got all of it from (easy) Downs.
- Learned RADAMES (not RAMADES, which I just now mistakenly typed again...) from xwords. Same is true for HEINE (25D: Poet whose works were set to music by Schumann Strauss and Brahms) and AVOCET (53A: Wading bird with an upcurved bill) — thank god for experience.
- 22A: ISP with butterfly logo (MSN) — ISP = Internet Service Provider / MSN = (originally) "The Microsoft NetWork"
- 31A: Capital on the Dnieper (KIEV) — in (the) Ukraine. "Dnieper" is one of those great odd-consonant-starting European cities, Like BRNO and GDANSK.
- 55A: R&B singer Shuggie ___ (OTIS) — not ringing a bell. Let's listen:
- 60A: Beverage with a lizard logo (SOBE) — history says: many of you did not know this. Got searched / googled like crazy last time it appeared as a clue.
- 3D: One who labors for labor's sake? (UNION REP) — excellent clue; that whole NW is pretty sweet, actually.
- 6D: Nut with a cupule (ACORN) — remembered this feature from some earlier discussion we had about the word "cupule"
- 36D: Howdah occupant, maybe (RAJAH) — completely forgot what a "howdah" was ... it's the ornamental compartment in which one might ride an elephant.
- 46D: Unit proposed by Leucippus (ATOM) — many people know that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's original name was Lew Alcindor, but very few know that the Lew was short for "Leucippus" ... or that Kareem was an important child scientist.
- 54D: Crop farmer of Genesis (CAIN) — first thought: "Oh come on, didn't they all farm crops!" But then I remembered the different offerings of CAIN and Abel. Reread GENESIS recently, which helped.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]