Four-dimensional realm / WED 4-27-11 / Online newsgroup system / 97.5% of penny / Quattro preceder / Leipzig's state / Rabid dog Stephen King story /
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
The Hutu /ˈhuːtuː/, or Abahutu, are a Central African ethnic group, living mainly in Rwanda and Burundi. // The Hutu are the largest of the three ethnic groups in Burundi and Rwanda; according to the United States Central Intelligence Agency, 84% of Rwandans and 85% of Burundians are Hutu, although other sources have found statistics that differ by several percent. The division between the Hutu and the Tutsi (the larger of the other two groups) is based more upon social class than ethnicity, as there are no significant linguistic, physical, or cultural differences between them. (The Twa pygmies, the smallest of Rwanda and Burundi's three groups, also share language and culture with the Hutu and Tutsi, but are much shorter and have agreed-upon genetic differences.) (wikipedia)
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Really liked this one, for several reasons. Normally, the "first words (or last words) all mean the same thing"-type theme doesn't do much for me, especially when (as here) those first (or last) words don't appear in phrases that change/hide their shared meaning (today, EXPLICIT and PATENT don't exactly mean "apparent" in their respective phrases, but CLEAR and MANIFEST pretty much do). But the strange arrangement of the theme answers, with the center-Down slicing through all three of the others, and the generally wide-open feel of the grid and interesting fill all made up for the less-than-scintillating theme concept. Those intersecting 15s in the middle of the grid made the puzzle look / feel like a late-week / themeless puzzle, even though its 76 words puts it solidly mid-week (themelesses have a max of 72 words). Given its semi-daunting look, I was surprised at how easily I moved through it—a full 30 seconds faster than yesterday's. I don't mind "easy" too much when the fill is not tired and boring (like today) and there are original-sounding, snazzy long Downs like "TAG, YOU'RE IT!" and "HYPERSPACE." In short, this is my kind of Monday/Tuesday puzzle—I can't hate it just because it appeared on a Wednesday.
- 20A: Task that stands high on one's list (CLEAR PRIORITY) — my least favorite theme answer. Not a snappy, strong, self-standing phrase, though I'm sure I've heard it before. HIGH PRIORITY seems like a thing. CLEAR PRIORITY, less so.
- 40A: Words on a parental advisory label (EXPLICIT CONTENT)
- 56A: Shiny shoe material (PATENT LEATHER)
- 7D: Expansionist doctrine (MANIFEST DESTINY)
- 24A: Bit of cyberchat shorthand (FWIW) — again, quite vague. Could've been several things. This one means "for what it's worth." I don't think I've ever seen it in the wild.
- 50A: Quattro preceder (TRE) — here's some Quat(t)ro for you:
- 52A: Turnarounds, slangily (UIES) — it's that or UEYS. I have only ever seen either of them in xwords.
- 1A: 97.5% of a penny (ZINC) — first answer in the grid, after balking at 1A: Sum of opposites (ZERO), which, honestly, should've been obvious.
- 29A: Leipzig's state (SAXONY) — wheeee. More fun fill. Like a symphony for a saxophone, or (with Anglo-) an adjective meaning "kind of white."
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