French actress Saint-Cyr / SAT 3-26-11 / Constellation next to Pavo / Creature revered by Mayans / Quarry boss of cartoons / Film villain sings Daisy
Saturday, March 26, 2011
Quetzals are strikingly colored birds in the trogon family (Trogonidae). They are found in forests and woodlands, especially in humid highlands, with the five species from the genus Pharomachrus being exclusively Neotropical, while the single Euptilotis species is almost entirely restricted to western Mexico (marginally also in adjacent U.S. states). They are fairly large (all over 32 cm or 13 inches), slightly bigger than other trogon species. Trogons have iridescent green or golden-green wing coverts, back, chest and head, and a red belly. They are strongly sexually dimorphic, and parts of the females' plumage is brown or grey. These largely solitary birds feed on fruits, berries, insects and small vertebrates (e.g. frogs), and can, despite the bright plumage, be surprisingly difficult to see in their wooded habitats. (wikipedia)
• • •Too lazy to get off the couch, go upstairs, print out puzzle, and solve it on paper, so I just grabbed my laptop and solved while lying on the couch, with college basketball blaring nearby and with various bedtime preparations happening around me. Even with the distractions, and the utter lack of speed urgency on my part, I still finished in just a shade over 9—fast for me, for a Saturday, and wicked fast for me for a Brad Wilber Saturday. If only I'd remembered stupid CHÈVRE more quickly (1A: Goat cheese), I'd have been even faster. Very little resistance today. Biggest issues—figuring out what [Gone con] was after ("oh ... a con who has gone ... gotcha") (ESCAPEE); trying to remember which HENRY I was after (IV) (2D: John of Gaunt's son); convincing myself QUETZAL could stand on its own, without COATL; getting to HOGTIE from HOBBLE (65A: Render helpless) ... and that's pretty much it. Really like this grid—lots of Scrabbly letters and interesting words/phrases, not a lot of dreck. You can keep your stunt grids with the stacked 15s and big white spaces and what not. I'll take a modest-looking 70-72-word grid with tough clues and bouncy, in-the-language, original fill (BYE WEEK!) (45D: Idle stretch for an N.F.L. team) any day.
There were a few things I just didn't know—RENEE Saint-Cyr, for instance (36D: French actress Saint-Cyr). I know Lili St. Cyr (grrr...), but not RENEE. Knew QUEEN MAB and HESIOD, but their clues didn't make them easy to pick up (42A: She "gallops o'er a courtier's nose," in Shakespeare + 15A: Ancient "Works and Days" poet). Know SHREK, of course, but not as a musical (13D: 2009 Best Musical nominee). No idea that ARA was next to Pavo, but constellation in three letters = ARA until I'm shown otherwise. Prince HAL was the son of HENRY IV, but today the clue on HAL is much more modern and creepy (32A: Film villain who sings "Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer, do!"). The "Daisy" scene in "2001" is amazingly sad, almost touching. I've never thought of HAL as a proper "villain." I sort of like him.
- 23A: Cagney's employer (NYPD) — I'm assuming this is the Cagney of "Cagney & Lacey," a show any disco-era kid (or 80s teenager) (or X'ER) would have at least a passing familiarity with.
- 38A: First man featured on the cover of the U.S. edition of Vogue (GERE) — apparently it's "Mildly Obscure Clues for Richard GERE" week at the NYT (see 46A, yesterday)
- 49A: Biden's successor on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (KERRY) — that clue, like KERRY, makes me want to sleep.
- 64A: So-called "wand of heaven" (ALOE VERA) — anyone so-calling it that has never been anywhere around me. Luckily, this answer was easy to pick up from crosses.
- 8D: They may evoke tristesse (ADIEUX) — GERE twice in two days, not that weird. ADIEUX *and* GERE twice in two days, a little weird.
- 26D: Brave protector (TEPEE) — I can see how this clue might have been misleading, but I had all the Es in place before I ever saw the clue.
- 43D: Quarry boss of cartoons (MRS. LATE) — really mean lady. Also, kind of a night owl.
- 56D: Beatle George studied under him (RAVI) — Shankar. "Beatle George" sounds really weird. Like Beetlejuice meets Curious George.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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