Two-handled vase / WED 12-29-10 / Card game Spanish origin / Cook Island carving / Evergreen with edible nuts / Syrian presidential family
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Constructor: Patrick Merrell
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: TILDE (58D: Mark used four times in this puzzle's solution) — three theme answers contain a total of four Ñs (which work in the crosses as well)
Word of the Day: OMBRE (36A: Card game of Spanish origin) —
Ombre, English corruption of the Spanish word Hombre, arising from the muting of the H in Spanish, is a fast-moving seventeenth-century trick-taking card game with an illustrious history which began in Spain around the end of the 16th Century as a four person game. It is one of the earliest card games known in Europe and by far the most classic game of its type, directly ancestral to Euchre, Boston and Solo Whist. Despite its difficult rules, complicated point score and strange foreign terms, it swept Europe in the last quarter of the 17th century, becoming Lomber in Germany, Lumbur in Austria and Ombre in England, occupying a position of prestige similar to Bridge today. (wikipedia)
- 18A: Margarita alternatives (PIÑA COLADAS) / 6D: One of a 15th-century trio (NIÑA)
- 40A: Salsa verde ingredient (JALAPEÑO PEPPERS) / 28D: It requires one who's blind with a bat (PIÑATA)
- 63A: Procrastinating words south of the border (MAÑANA, SEÑOR)
/ 52D: Evergreen with edible nuts (PIÑON) + 62D: Yucatán years (AÑOS)
Had several missteps throughout the grid. OH, YES for AH, YES (57D: "But of course") hurt because I couldn't see THREAT for the life of me (55A: Reason for evacuation). Clue on THIRDS was devilish, in that I assumed the hungry person was needy, not just ravished (49D: Helping for the very hungry, maybe). I thought the Obamas were maybe having ceremonies on the EAST LAWN, but no—they're in the EAST ROOM (42D: White House ceremony site). So far, it seems the S/SE was as bad as the NW for me. Yes, there was also the matter of DONATE for DO GOOD (67A: Be altruistic). One stray puzzler—what the hell is "The Gift" (39D: Gift in "The Gift"=>ESP). I wanted "FOB" or "TRESS," but clearly I was thinking of the wrong story (story?). Uh, nope ... "The Gift" is some 10-yr-old Sam Raimi film I've never heard of.
- 10A: Noise in a comic book gun fight (BLAM!) — I read comics regularly, including ones with gun fights, and I had nothing here. Then I had BANG! Then I had BOOM! :(
- 29A: Screen role for Skippy the dog (ASTA) — is "the dog" his last name?
- 68A: Mustachioed "Simpsons" character (NED) — Hens love roosters, geese love ganders ...
- 21D: Virgins of ancient Rome (VESTALS) — I've heard them called "Vestal Virgins" (mostly in "Whiter Shade of Pale"), but not just VESTALS. Interesting fact—the school where I teach is technically located in VESTAL, NY.
- 30D: Two-handled vase (AMPHORA) — what's an AMPHERE? 'Cause I had AMPHERE. I think it's some kind of electrified AMPHORA. Or what a really drunk guy calls an "Amphitheater." Or a pan floutist...
- 47D: Syrian presidential family (ASSADS) — it's a very crossword-friendly name for some reason.
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