Simple bit of plankton / WED 7-28-10 / MGM motto ender / Speaking machine developer / Beatlesque dos / Flying Cloud automaker
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Constructor: Howard Baker
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: MR. IGGINS AND MISS / DOOLITTLE / ATTEMPT TO / SOLVE A CROSSWORD (17A: With 27-, 49- and 63-Across, the story behind 5-, 36-, 39- and 70-Across) — four answers have clues for answers that appear in the grid without their initial "H"s, per Eliza Doolitle's famous pre-transformation H-dropping (hence, for instance, 'IGGINS)
Word of the Day: DIATOM (52A: Simple bit of plankton) —
Diatoms are a major group of algae, and are one of the most common types of phytoplankton. Most diatoms are unicellular, although they can exist as colonies in the shape of filaments or ribbons (e.g. Fragillaria), fans (e.g. Meridion), zigzags (e.g. Tabellaria), or stellate colonies (e.g. Asterionella). Diatoms are producers within the food chain. A characteristic feature of diatom cells is that they are encased within a unique cell wall made of silica (hydrated silicon dioxide) called a frustule. These frustules show a wide diversity in form, but usually consist of two asymmetrical sides with a split between them, hence the group name. Fossil evidence suggests that they originated during, or before, the early Jurassic Period. Diatom communities are a popular tool for monitoring environmental conditions, past and present, and are commonly used in studies of water quality. (wikipedia)
- 5A: Professor says "Stocking stocker," pupil suggests ... (OSIER)
- 36A: Professor says "Qualifying races," pupil suggests ... (EATS)
- 39A: Professor says "Ax wielder," pupil suggests ... (EWER)
- 70A: Professor says "Equine restraint," pupil suggests ... (ALTER)
- 21A: Like much Vegas stagewear (GAUDY) — great word. Was just discussing tonight how I've never, ever been to a casino. Conversation precipitated by wife's recent trip to Atlantic City for a karate tournament.
- 38A: MGM motto ender (ARTIS) — "Ars Gratia ARTIS" ("Art for art's sake" — I thought it came from Horace, but apparently its origins are a good deal more recent—popularized as a slogan by Théophile Gautier in the 19th c.)
- 2D: Parisian picnic spot (PARC) — where you might sit on a BANC (another recurring Fr. 4-ltr word)
- 41D: Jocular suffix with "best" (-EST) — did not understand the clue at all at first, as I was thinking "... how is that suffix jocular?" I was thinking the suffix signified something that was the "best," not that it was supposed to be attached (jocularly!) to the word BEST. Aha. BestEST. Yes, that is a jocular word.
- 46D: "Speaking machine" developer (EDISON) — took me way longer than it should have, I suppose. I had no idea what a "speaking machine" could be. Turns out it's the damned phonograph.
- 47D: Paris's "The Simple Life" co-star (NICOLE) — this clue already feels sooooo dated to me.
- 50D: Beatlesque dos (MOPS) — Really like this clue. It just looks great—simultaneously French- and Spanish-looking, and yet entirely English. Good stuff.
- 59D: Pentagonal plate (HOME) — Site of many collisions and injuries. Detroit Tigers star slugger Magglio Ordoñez (please put him in a puzzle) broke his ankle just the other day sliding awkwardly into home—out four-six weeks.
- 65D: Onetime U.A.R. member (SYR.) — United Arab Republic = short-lived union between Egypt and SYR (1958-61). You'll often (or at least sometimes) see "UAR" as fill. I still get it confused with "UAE" (United Arab Emirates, which still exists).
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