Drink name means little water / THU 1-20-11 / Bowl mixing wine water ancient Greece / Onetime Facebook president Parker / Ostensible backdrop Devil
Thursday, January 20, 2011
- "opposite of 18-Across [ASS]" means SSA (SOCIAL SECURITY / ADMINISTRATION)
- "opposite of 32-Down [FAR]" means RAF (ROYAL AIR FORCE)
- and "opposite of 58-Across [AIM]" is M.I.A. (MISSING IN ACTION)
Word of the Day: KRATER (12D: Bowl for mixing wine and water in ancient Greece) —
A krater (in Greek: κρατήρ, kratēr, from the verb κεράννυμι, keránnymi, "to mix") was a large vase used to mix wine and water in Ancient Greece. // At a Greek symposium, kraters were placed in the center of the room. They were quite large, so they were not easily portable when filled. Thus, the wine-water mixture would be withdrawn from the krater with other vessels. In fact, Homer's Odyssey describes a steward drawing wine from a krater at a banquet and then running to and fro pouring the wine into guests' drinking cups. An interesting sidenote to this is that the modern Greek word now used for undiluted wine, krasi (κρασί), originates from the krasis (κράσις, i.e. mixing) of wine and water in kraters. Kraters were glazed on the interior to make the surface of the clay more suitable for holding water, and possibly for aesthetic reasons, since the interior could easily be seen. (wikipedia)
• • •Very clever theme—tough to uncover, and then not so tough at all, unless, like me, you are a failure at reading, in which case, possibly tough again. My "see this" "see that" vision is terrible, in that my eye either fails to find the right place quickly, or else finds the wrong place. Today, I flew down the west coast of the puzzle and then moved into the center without having any clue what the theme was supposed to be. At some point, enough of MISSING IN ACTION became clear that I filled it in, discovering its heretofore not understood connection to AIM, and then thought I'd fly through the rest of the puzzle. But I shot myself in the foot, not once, but twice. First, instead of looking at FAR for the clue to 35A (ROYAL AIR FORCE), I looked at ... 37D: AOL. So ... LOA? What's a LOA? [Hawaiian for 'hello' and 'goodbye,' badumbum!]. My guess: ROYAL AIRLINES (wah WAH). Worse, I somehow thought SSA stood for ... SOCIAL SERVICES / ADMINISTRATION. And of course it fit, perfectly. Dear lord. The fact that I got it all sorted out in only slightly above average time means that the puzzle can't have been that hard, at least not for the unexhausted / thinking clearly crowd. That's you, right?
Northeast corner was the bear for me, mainly because my access was seriously blocked by my dual theme answer GAFFEs (33A: Putting one's foot in one's mouth, e.g.). It's a tough corner even if you don't make it hard on yourself. First, KRATER! Eeks. Second, toughish, vaguish clues on DATIVE, HEAVES, and CHAFF. OP ART was a gimme, and I eventually unraveled things from there, but not without some struggle.
There wasn't much in the way of unpleasantness. Crossing SER with SERIA and LIP with LIPPI makes me a little squirmy, but the words in each case are unrelated, and anyway there's hardly any other weak bits of fill in the whole grid. BOSON and CESTA are slightly unusual words, though they must be fairly crossword-common, because I don't think I know them from the real, non-grid world. I'm not familiar with this SADIE (61A: "All the King's Men" woman) or these SEANs (57A: Onetime Facebook president Parker and others), but those are common enough names, and easy to get from crosses (assuming you know a little French, specifically TASSE, 49D: Thé cup, maybe).
- 1A: Ancient gathering place (AGORA) — always nice to get a big, fat softball thrown your way on the first pitch, especially on a Tricky Thursday.
- 9A: Drink whose name means "little water" (VODKA) — Shteyman, your roots are showing! (I like it)
- 40A: Odysseus saw him as a shade in the underworld (ORION) — yeah, he saw a lot of people. Further ... dang, this is one ancient puzzle. AGORA and KRATER and Odysseus and the ARGO (48A: Ancient Greek vessel)...
- 3D: Veal shank dish in un ristorante (OSSO BUCO) — another easy early answer, gettable with just a few crosses (or maybe not even that many if you know your meat).
- 66A: Prefix with sound (INFRA) — not in my world. But in a dictionary, undoubtedly, which is good enough.
- 6D: Obsolescent alternative to broadband (DIAL-UP) — Love this answer, mainly because I love remembering that I once lived in what is now the digital equivalent of the Middle Ages. All the whirring and beeping. So magical.
- 9D: Ostensible backdrop of the 2003 roman à clef "The Devil Wears Prada" (VOGUE) — I should've known this. Never read the book, never saw the movie, thus could think only of MOGUL when confronted with -OGU-. I knew (vaguely) that the book/movie was about the fashion industry, so "VOGUE" got in there eventually.
- 47D: Org. that rates members of Congress on their liberalism (ADA) — Why in the world does my dentist care about how left-leaning Congress is??? "Yes, they will be more permissive, leading to a more permissive society, and thus more people will eat sweets ... yes ..." [tenting fingers, grinning menacingly] ... oh, ADA stands for "Americans for Democratic Action" (!?!?!). OK...
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