French novelist Pierre / FRI 3-12-11 / Columbarium object / Daughter in Cherry Orchard / Children's author Eleanor
Friday, March 11, 2011
Eleanor Estes (May 9, 1906 – July 15, 1988) was an American children's author. [...] Estes's book Ginger Pye (1951) won the Newbery Medal, and three of her other books (The Middle Moffat, Rufus M., and The Hundred Dresses) were chosen as Newbery Honor books. She also received the Certificate of Award for Outstanding Contribution to Children’s Literature and was nominated for the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award. By the time of her death at age 82, Estes had written 19 children's books and one novel for adults. (wikipedia)
• • •Just fine. Not MA-S's best work, by a long shot, but very competent for a themeless puzzle with stacked 15s running across the center. Here's the thing—stacked 15s are hard to pull off, so you have to admire the feat on some level, and yet ... it's Been Done, many times, so there's no longer any novelty in it. Unless you get some Fantastic answers in there, the feat seems a little meaningless at this point. I'm not sure any of the 15s qualify as Fantastic, though I like SOUND THE RETREAT best of all. Can we please retires A LOT ON ONE'S PLATE? That's at least three times I've seen that particular 15 in recent months. Otherwise, there's very little in the way of groany stuff (only CORMS (32D: Bulblike bases of stems), LOTI (31D: French novelist Pierre), NEI (54A: Verdi's "___ giardin del bello"), CITER, and DORSA rubbed me the wrong way). Good work, but without any particular sizzle, I won't remember it in a few hours, let alone tomorrow.
Biggest problem area for me was, not surprisingly, that vast white middle. Top and bottom were pretty cinchy, but I didn't know there was a SINAI DESERT, and I thought "etiolate" mean something like "taper" or "deteriorate" (not WHITEN), so I had trouble getting into the middle at first. At first pass, only OLIN, DRESS FASTENERS, ELDEST, AT 'EM, and SESS fell in. Those last three eventually allowed me to see A LOT ON ONE'S PLATE, and I made good headway from there. Once I got into the bottom, the SW threatened to be pretty recalcitrant, mostly because ARCADE was really hard to turn up (43A: Game keeper), but it all fell into place. SE played like a Wednesday. The End.
- 1A: Cosmonaut's craft (SOYUZ) — learned the name from crosswords. Picked it up from the helpful gimme ZED (5D: Letter in the Globe and Mail)
- 19A: Cabinet dept. since 1965 (HUD) — Housing and Urban Development. I had HHS at first.
- 1D: What the narrator "threw up" in "The Night Before Christmas" (SASH) — Loved this one, as it reminded me of my mom, who read me this poem a lot when I was very little. It may be the first poem I ever knew by heart. You'll have to ask her.
- 2D: Baseball's Lefty (GROVE) — well, it should've been GROVE, anyway...
- 4D: Columbarium object (URN) — Who can forget Keats's "Ode on a Columbarium Object?" Beauty is truth, truth beauty. I have no idea what "Columbarium" is (wikipedia says it's "a place for the respectful and usually public storage of cinerary urns."
- 10D: Onetime owner of Sheraton Hotels (ITT) — I thought maybe OTT. Then thought, "Cousin ITT? Really?"
- 33D: Daughter in "The Cherry Orchard" (ANYA) — went for ANNA then thought "nah, needs to be more Russiany." That "Y" helped me finally get the oddly clued LITERARY STUDIES (how is that a concentration for an English major????? Virtually any course an English major takes is LITERARY STUDIES. You'd concentrate, maybe, in a period or genre or something like that. I mean, do math majors have concentrations in "number studies?" (please don't answer that)
- 53D: Tom T. Hall's "Mama Bake ___" ("A PIE") — got it easily without knowing the song or even who Tom T. Hall is (sounds familiar, but ...). Let's see ... ooh, he's a "country balladeer," says wiki. Let's listen.
Now compare with ... [profanity warning]
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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P.S. puzzle by me and Angela Halsted over at Brendan Emmett Quigley's website today. Check it out.