Squawk Box airer / FRI 2-4-11 / Poem referencing darker brother / Puncher's nickname / Name in old German duchies / Relative of Manx
Friday, February 4, 2011
The Bronze Star Medal (or BSM) is a United States Armed Forces individual military decoration that may be awarded for bravery, acts of merit, or meritorious service. When awarded for bravery, it is the fourth-highest combat award of the U.S. Armed Forces and the ninth highest military award (including both combat and non-combat awards) in the order of precedence of U.S. military decorations. Officers from the other federal uniformed services are also eligible to receive the award if they are militarized or detailed to serve with a service branch of the armed forces. (wikipedia)
• • •Easy and clean—a very nice Friday. Seems like Fridays in recent weeks have felt much harder and somewhat more tortured, fill-wise. The fill on this one is so clean that there wasn't even a particularly strange word or name to single out for Word of the Day. Doesn't mean it was boring (though this one lacked a wicked punch / killer answer). Phrases were mostly lively, and solidly in-the-language. The weirdest thing about this grid is its structure—specifically, those super-narrow passages connecting top and bottom halves. I did the top part in ... well, it couldn't have been more than 2 or 3 minutes. But getting into the bottom (...) was tougher. The "E" at the end of NUDE was no help (37D: As one entered the world — do Not like the clue; your baby is not "NUDE"; it's naked), and though I dropped MEDE (22D: Member of an extensive empire of the seventh century B.C.) down pretty easily, the "EDE" gave me absolutely no purchase, so essentially this puzzle was two puzzles. I like greater connectivity in my grids, but that's about all that bugged me about this puzzle. Took me a while to get a toehold down south, but once I did, I was off and running again. Bottom took me twice as long as the top, but I still had a very good time.
Got the ball rolling with AHEM / MRES, the latter of which turned out to be wrong (it's MESS) (19A: Sustenance for a fatigued person?), but I corrected it pretty quickly. Went through the top like wildfire. Wasn't sure about the FRENZY part of MEDIA FRENZY (and don't quite get what's funny / cute about the "rubbing elbows" part of that clue) (22A: Event at which reporters rub elbows?), so briefly thought the NE might be tough to get into, but the top Across (CNBC) was a gimme, and that gave me CHILE (10D: Its flag is red, white and blue), and that was all I needed to tear through the rest of the top half. In the south, I had to wander lonely as a cloud for a while, testing and yanking answers—some right (INTER, RUIN), some wrong (WEE instead of SMA, 42A: Like a Scottish young 'un). Finally hit 60A: Volunteer's place: Abbr., which I figured *had* to be TENN. It was. It gave me TENON, which confirmed INTER and RUIN, and I caught fire again. Last letter in the grid was the "S" in AEGIS, which means I started in the far NW and ended in the far SE—a true corner-to-corner solve, which almost never happens.
- 16A: Ring even after exchanging rings (HORA) — brain really wanted this to be boxing-related, but that "exchanging rings" had something undeniably weddingy about it. So "ring," four letters, wedding — HORA.
- 20A: Name in old German duchies (SAXE) — crossword muscle. Got it off the "S." SAXE is one of those only-seen-it-in-crosswords names.
- 32A: Puncher's nickname (TEX) — one of the hardest clues for me to get today. My cowpoke lingo is kind of anemic.
- 30A: Like "10," but not "9" (RATED R) — knew right away this was movie-related, but had no idea how. What was "9" rated? PG-13? Yes, but it turns out I was thinking of "Nine" (a 2009 film version of the Broadway musical), not "9" (a 2009 computer-animated fantasy film most people never saw).
- 38A: "Fusses" is a form of it (ÊTRE) — aargh, what is that? The subjunctive? Passé simple?! Oh, man, it's second-person (informal) imperfect subjunctive. Clearly my French is très rusty.
- 51A: Sister co. of Applebee's (IHOP) — No, really? That makes me not want to eat there. Oh, who am I kidding; I want to eat there (IHOP, not Applebee's, for god's sake; I'm not an animal).
- 2D: Paneling material (PINE) — Had PANE, briefly. Which is stupid, when you think about it.
- 52D: Watergate-era White House chief of staff (HAIG) — he enters my consciousness only with the Reagan assassination attempt, when he claimed to be "in charge." I think he had a tattoo of the Princeton tiger on his ass. Why would I know that? Oh, whoops. I'm confusing him with another member of Reagan's cabinet: Secretary of State George Schulz.
- 53D: Westin relative (OMNI) — I'm guessing this is hotel-related. Thankfully, I never saw the clue.
- 58A: Poem referencing "the darker brother" ("I, TOO") — Here you go:
I, too, sing America.
I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.
I'll be at the table
When company comes.
Say to me,
"Eat in the kitchen,"
They'll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed--
I, too, am America.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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