Folk singer Griffith / WED 11-24-10 / Performer dubbed Great Dane / Tampa Bay gridders / Infomercial host Gibbons
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Constructor: Allan E. Parrish
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: SHUTTLES — names of six space shuttles are clued only by their # (i.e. #1, #2, etc.), which represents the chronological order of their first launches. Circles, forming what I imagine to be some kind of elliptical orbit, spell out the word SHUTTLES.
[Puzzle note reads: "When this puzzle is done, read the eight circled letters clockwise, starting with square #24, to identify this puzzle's theme"]
Word of the Day: CAT'S PAW (52A: Tool) —
Theme wasn't too hard to pick up. Took a good deal of clawing away at short answers, but once I got COLUMBIA, options narrowed down pretty quickly (Ivy League schools?). Once I noticed CHALL- and DISCO- hanging out there, I knew what I was dealing with. I had no idea that ENDEAVOUR had British spelling. That seems ... weird. Unamerican, even. According to wikipedia, "Endeavour was named through a national competition involving students in elementary and secondary schools. Entries included an essay about the name, the story behind it and why it was appropriate for a NASA shuttle, and the project that supported the name." Did they think the "U" made it ... fancy? Worse than spelling Americans writing "theatre," I think. CAT'S PAW has shown up several times in recent years in clues, but never as the answer. That answer took me longer to get than probably any other in the grid. Misspelled BANZAI (as BONZAI) (55A: W.W. II battle cry), never heard of this version of THOR (65A: Old space-launched rocket), couldn't remember if Mrs. Bush was née WELSH or WELCH (9D: Laura Bush's maiden name), and thought CRABBY (23A: Cantankerous) was ORNERY at first. Otherwise, nothing too troubling.
- 30D: #1 (ENTERPRISE)
- 18A: #2 (COLUMBIA)
- 3D: #3 (CHALLENGER)
- 6D: #4 (DISCOVERY)
- 60A: #5 (ATLANTIS)
- 36D: #6 (ENDEAVOUR)
- 14A: Sesame seed-based sauce (TAHINI) — tasty, and an important component of hummus.
- 2D: Folk singer Griffith (NANCI) — saw her twice during my grad student days in Michigan. Super-talented, with an impossibly sweet voice.
- 69A: Team with a big B on its helmets (RAVENS) — "B" stands for Baltimore. They have a pretty good team this year. Playoff quality. Tied with the Steelers atop the AFC North.7-3 record, same as the other football team in the grid—the BUCS (7D: Tampa Bay gridders, for short)
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