Old Isle of Wight settlers / SAT 12-4-10 / Tony-winning Tessie / Housemate Steinbeck's Tortilla Flat / Capital NE of the Gulf of Trieste
Saturday, December 4, 2010
Ljubljana (locally: [lʲubˈlʲana]( listen); German: Laibach, Italian: Lubiana, Latin: Labacum) is the capital of Slovenia and its largest city. It is the centre of the City Municipality of Ljubljana. It is located in the centre of the country in the Ljubljana Basin, and is a mid-sized city of some 270,000 inhabitants. Throughout its history, it has been influenced by its geographic position at the crossroads of Germanic, Latin and Slavic cultures. (wikipedia)
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And to think, one of my commenters the other day thought RIGA was beyond the pale. I'd hate to see what happened to his head when / if he figured out today's 1A. I'm mildly embarrassed to say I've neeeeever heard of the place. I know that Slovenia is a place, mainly from Olympics, but the capital. Nuh uh. Took me a while to get out of the NW because the Downs were making sense but 1A, not so much. Finally just decided to give into the absurdity of the letter string and cross my fingers that it made a real place (and it did). From there, found the puzzle mostly easy, until I hit the SQ, where I could not find a way in. Couldn't remember my "Dallas" characters (33A: Victoria's "Dallas" role=>PAMELA). Couldn't remember Mrs. Dalloway's first name (it's CLARISSA). Couldn't figure out what 49A: Dress down like a sailor? was getting at, mainly because I thought the SWEAR AT meaning of "dress down" was the obvious one and that the "?" must be signifying something sartorial. So I was staring at a ton of blank space there until god sat in my lap with 27D: Home of Whitman College. I applied to and was accepted there (in the late '80s), so I knew very well where it was located: WALLA WALLA, WA. That was enough for me to get ILIAD (I sometimes teach it, and somehow remembered the number of books it has) (60A: Collection of 24 books). I then remembered ALMA (again, my educational background helped out, as I went to grad school in Michigan and vaguely recall hearing about ALMA College at some point) (37A: Presbyterian-founded Michigan college), and from there, that quadrant went down as easily as the rest.
If there's a Natick in today's puzzle, it's going to be the LJUBLJANA / JUTES crossing (6D: Old Isle of Wight settlers). As a medievalist (my version of "As a mathematician..."), the JUTES are very familiar to me from various accounts of the settling of Britain by Germanic peoples (Angles, Saxons, JUTES). But I don't think of JUTES as being terribly well known. I've seen them in puzzles before but ... well, not crossing LJUBLJANA, that's for sure. Elsewhere, there are several relatively obscure names (PABLO and O'SHEA were mysteries to me) (10A: Housemate in Steinbeck's "Tortilla Flat" + 52D: Tony-winning Tessie), but they're pretty gettable from crosses. Also, there were several neons today, including 2D: De ___ (by law) (JURE) and 57D: ___ Hari (MATA), which I at first assumed was some kind of trick. All in all, I liked this grid. A bit name-heavy, but with names like WALLA WALLA and LJUBLJANA, I at least can't complain about the grid's being uninteresting.
- 18A: "You're nothing but a pack of cards!" speaker (ALICE) — as in "in Wonderland." Great clue. Great line.
- 26A: Easter egg design (SWIRL) — clue did nothing for me. You can put any design you want on an Easter egg.
- 56A: Monarchy since the 1740s (OMAN) — not sure how, but guessed this with no crosses (before I even saw clue for MATA). I guess there aren't that many four-letter countries that fit the bill.
- 62A: Russian famously played by an Egyptian (DR. ZHIVAGO) — Omar Sharif. Getting this answer helped me get DANZIG (47D: Birthplace of Günter Grass), which I always think of as a band, not a place.
- 67A: It may have you in an awkward position (YOGA) — well that is sure enough true. There's usually at least one pose per class where I feel like an absurdity. "My leg ... doesn't do that."
- 34D: Sting in 1980 headlines (ABSCAM) — pretty easy. Another Sting in 1980 headlines: Sting. In March, The Police did their first World Tour.
- 36D: Brie alternative (PATÉ) — So ... not a cheese. Tricky.
- 42D: Its highest mtn. is Meron (ISR.) — did not know. Wanted to guess ESP (for ESPAÑA)
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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