Conrad who wrote Ushant 1952 / FRI 11-26-10 / Ezio composer / Dressing Rich author Feldon / 1935 Pulitzer-winning biography / Aida chorus subject
Friday, November 26, 2010
Arranged in or consisting of sets or groups of three, as a compound leaf with three leaflets.
[New Latin ternātus, from Medieval Latin, past participle of ternāre, treble, from Latin ternī, three each.[...]] (answers.com)
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Very shortly into this puzzle, I realized I would need to be about twice as old as I currently am for this puzzle to be in my wheelhouse (which is to say, I'd need to be 82—today is my 41st birthday). In the end, I like the look of the theme answers in the grid, but dear lord, all of them, as well as several other clues, felt like something from a Very bygone era, or from some parallel universe where I don't live (somewhere where people enjoy the adult contemporary stylings of BETTE Midler (27A: "___ of Roses" (1995 adult contemporary album)) and say "PENNYwise" (8D: Wise leader?) and read LEAH Feldon (24A: "Dressing Rich" author Feldon), whoever that is). Clue that sums up this puzzle best for me is 52D: Conrad who wrote "Ushant," 1952 (AIKEN). There's literally no part of that I understand. "Ushant"?!—it's like textspeak from the 19th century, e.g. "U SHANT ride in brougham unless pa sez OK." I know a Claude AIKEN. I think he was on "Bonanza" or something like that ... no, dammit, I'm thinking of Claude AKINS, who was in "Sheriff Lobo." Clay AIKEN. That's an AIKEN I know.
A flurry of "?" clues was irking me today too, mainly because I just couldn't find their wavelength—so between clues out of my age-range and "?" clues, I felt like I was being bludgeoned (though I did end up loving the clue on POOLS, 15D: Crawl spaces?, which I couldn't see even with -OOLS in place...). Sometimes these things happen. Always good to know that I can fight my way through a puzzle so outside my frame of reference. I think I've at least *heard* of all three theme movies, although I know ZORRO from pulps and ZENDA from my old paperback collection. I had the Hudson movie as ICE SKATING-something for a while, which led to the stupidest moment of the solve: trying to convince myself that HAKS might be something (5D: They have crowns=>HATS)
"Bug A BOO" (23D: "Bug ___" (1999 Destiny's Child hit)) is about as contemporary as this puzzle gets, which is pretty pathetic, as that song was a "hit" in only the most generous sense of the word—it peaked at #33 (!) 11 years ago, and I assure you that virtually no one solving this puzzle could even hum it for you.
- 16A: 1968 Rock Hudson action film (ICE STATION ZEBRA)
- 30A: 1940 Tyrone Power adventure film, with "The" (MARK OF ZORRO)
- 46A: 1937 Ronald Colman adventure film, with "The" (PRISONER OF ZENDA)
Last major complaint—that NE corner. The POULTS / UDE (10D: Ulan-___, Russia) / TERNATE triad should have gotten laughed out of the building for awkwardness and obscurity. You can let one of those guys in there, but to have them all holding hands? Come on. POULTS, dear lord (8A: Turkey tots?). And as if the word itselfa isn't bad enough, a cutesy clue to boot. It's all very tough to love for this BOSOX-loving PHD (28A: Green Monster's squad + 37A: Many a prof).
I do like that there's an INDEX FINGER (17D: Telephone dialer?) in the DIKE (44A: Big bank investment?). Very "Little Dutch Boy."
- 14A: Lamont Library locale (HARVARD) — guessed off the -RD (ERA and DDT were the first things in the grid)
- 34A: Dweller along the Skunk River (IOWAN) — wanted this to be a tribe member of some sort, but it appears to be simply somebody living in Iowa.
- 35A: 1935 Pulitzer-winning biography (R.E. LEE) — pure crossword muscle. Didn't know it, but last two letters were -EE and that (grid-friendly) spelling of the general's name just leapt right to mind.
- 40A: "Aida" chorus subject (ISIS) — I can't be the only one who has ASPS here at first. Can I?
- 41A: Where Hausa and Djerma are spoken (NIGER) — No idea. Just figured it out from crosses. I hope I never see "Hausa" or "Djerma" in a grid.
- 45A: "She's Got You" singer, 1962 (CLINE) — lest you think I dislike everything pre-1970 ... this one was a gimme because I Love Patsy.
- 28D: Katharine Lee ___, writer of "America the Beautiful" (BATES) — do people really know this stuff?? Norman and Kathy want their damned crossword name rights back.
- 38D: "Ezio" composer (HANDEL) — after "Water Music" and "Messiah," it's all hazy to me.
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