Husband of Gudrun / FRI 7-16-10 / Old Dubble Bubble maker / Guinness's most fearless animal / Online reference for all things Star Wars
Friday, July 16, 2010
A woman adviser or counselor.
[After Egeria, Roman nymph or goddess and adviser to Numa Pompilius, a legendary Roman king.] (answers.com)
• • •Aside from EGERIA (gibberish to me—the one answer I was really uncertain of), this puzzle felt very doable. Tough, but typically tough for a Friday. Perhaps I was a little slower getting started than usual, though I feel like I say I was slow getting started All The Time now, so I don't know. I do know that I started in the NW with a colossal failure. A failure that went three answers deep before I realized something was wrong. Figured the "counter" in 1A: Counter act (SCAN) was a deli counter, or some place where things are sold (in this, I was right), so I wrote in SALE (in this, I was wrong). Off the "S" I wrote in not the correct SORES but the incorrect and much worse SKINS for 1D: Dermatology topics. Then off the "K" in SKINS I wrote in KEEP for 14A: "___ quiet!"—which, in my defense, is a very credible answer, perhaps even slightly more credible answer than the "correct" OH BE. But a candy maker that starts "EP-?" No. Couldn't think of one. And I know a little something about candy makers, I like to think. So after that initial foray into the grid, I had to abandon the NW and move on—to the NE, it turns out, where NIP AT became the first Solid answer in the grid (16A: Attack as a young boxer might). Crossed it with APT (11D: Easily taught), and sighed with relief at "finally" getting a real toehold. Sadly, this toehold would, initially, lead nowhere, largely because I wrote in SCARE instead of SNARE at 9A: Woe for the unwary. This meant CIN- as the opening for 10D: Skittles (NINE PINS). Couldn't remember exactly what skittles were, but was pretty sure they weren't CINEASTS, say, so with just the wee NE done, I again decamped and headed for greener grid pastures.
And so I arrived in the west, where having seen Johnny Depp in "Donnie Brasco" helped me get FBI (30A: "Donnie Brasco" grp.), which gave me BONGO (31D: It's not played with sticks). Tried LOLL at 35A: Eschew exertion but that ended up being weird so I eventually changed to LOAF. Wrote in ENTYM at 40A: Branch of zool. until I realized I'd conflated the study of bugs with the study of word origins—changed to ENTOM and rode FOREWORD (36D: Its page numbers are often Roman numerals) down to the bottom of the grid. Finished off the west (after braving EGERIA) and tried to ride 3D: Short-term? up to the top of the grid, but felt uncertain. Luckily, Ben VEREEN (27A: Chicken George player in "Roots") was there to help me out, giving me the "V" I needed to be certain of ABBREVIATED. Those Bs didn't look friendly at first, but they eventually made the NW behave. From there, I had serious momentum, and didn't struggle again. Rode the wave of progress in a generally southeasterly direction, eventually ending in the far SE with AROD (65A: 10-time Silver Slugger Award winner, familiarly).
In the end, the puzzle seemed solid enough, though nothing was very grabby (or REGRABby, I guess) except WOOKIEEPEDIA (54A: Online reference for all things "Star Wars"), the spelling of which is very odd. What's with the unnecessary "E" in "WOOKIEE?" Never heard of: HONEY BADGER (24D: Guiness's "most fearless animal"); EGERIA (duh); MYLES (8D: Lee ___ (transmission repair chain)); HEME (62A: Myoglobin component); or INIGO López de Loyola (25D: Society of Jesus founder ___ López de Loyola). DRAYAGE was very inferrable (as I know what DRAY is), but it's at least a little icky (51A: Carting fee). Wanted NILE VALLEY or NILE BASIN before figuring out NILE DELTA (33D: Alexandria is in it). Not sure how I managed to associate an old brand of baseball card with the [Old Dubble Bubble maker], but I was: FLEER was the first thing I thought of after getting FBI. AYESHA I learned from crosswords (48D: H. Rider Haggard heroine). Dumb luck there. I can see that SE section being kind of brutal: a SNARE for the unwary.
- 23A: Cry from a stuck-up person? ("STOP HIM!") — very cute; possibly the best clue of the day.
- 32A: Near midnight (LATEN) — this word is like kudzu. Can we stop it now?
- 39A: Bearer of trumpet-shaped flowers (SEGO) — A lily, which I confuse with the SAGO palm and (for no good reason) the corn syrup KARO.
- 44A: "Lo! in ___ brilliant window-niche...": Poe ("YON") — YON is not in the original 1831 version of the poem ("To Helen"), but appears in the 1845 revision:
Helen, thy beauty is to me
Like those Nicean barks of yore
That gently, o'er a perfumed sea,
The weary, way-worn wanderer bore
To his own native shore.
On desperate seas long wont to roam,
Thy hyacinth hair, thy classic face,
Thy Naiad airs have brought me home
To the glory that was Greece,
And the grandeur that was Rome.
Lo, in yon brilliant window-niche
How statue-like I see thee stand,
The agate lamp within thy hand,
Ah! Psyche, from the regions which
Are Holy Land!
- 63A: Game with half-elves, informally (D AND D) — nice ampersandwich. Had the final two Ds and thought "Uh oh, that's not good." But it was.
- 5D: "Golf Begins at Forty" writer (SAM SNEAD) — forgot he wrote golf books. Was looking for somebody NEAL (?) until the obvious dawned on me.
- 7D: Husband of Gudrun (ATLI) — honestly, I wanted LOKI. Then later I wrote in ATRI (different crosswordese—Longfellow crosswordese).
- 57D: Janeane's co-star in "The Truth About Cats & Dogs" (UMA) — I saw this more than once in the mid-90s. I also own, and still listen to, the (good) soundtrack. I don't think the movie was that good. I think I was just bored. But I ended up liking the music—first time I ever heard Ben Folds. Soundtrack also features Paul Weller (erstwhile lead singer of The Jam):
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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