John Wayne cop film / SAT 7-9-11 / Bellatrix's constellation / Media inits since 1970 / Aster relative / Deadening agent / Radially symmetric creature
Saturday, July 9, 2011
tr.v., -pugned, -pugn·ing, -pugns.
To oppose, contradict, or call into question.
[Middle English oppugnen, from Latin oppugnāre, to attack : ob-, against; see ob- + pugnāre, to fight with the fist.]
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This was a breath of fresh air. Despite the presence of some words I really don't care for—namely OPPUGN and ECOTONE—and some small junk in the south I didn't care much for—namely -ESCE and the general glut of Latin and abbrevs. down there—I enjoyed this one quite a bit. Good to anchor your themeless with fresh, entertaining long answers, and "DRUMROLL, PLEASE!" (24A: "Wait for it ...") and "THE LONG GOODBYE" really fit the bill. The first is highly original, the second ... my favorite novel. Caleb is also a big Chandler fan. This is at least the second time "THE LONG GOODBYE" has figured in one of his puzzles. CRIME SCENE (58A: It may be combed for hairs) goes nicely with "THE LONG GOODBYE" (43A: Film starring Elliott Gould as Philip Marlowe), SEX PISTOLS (14A: Group with a 1977 hit banned by the BBC, with "the") over BRASS TACKS (17A: The basics) is splendid, and ANNOYANCES (27D: Soreness causes) and SPICE GIRLS (28D: Sporty ensemble?) are as apt a long pair as you're likely to see in crosswords. Fantastic clue on PIZZA DOUGH (2D: It may spin overhead), though linking it to SBARRO was kind of a downer (14D: Chain using lots of 2-Down). Great idea, from a strictly puzzle-oriented perspective, but UGH-inducing from a culinary perspective. I liked Slate's recent take on Sbarro: "America's Least Essential Restaurant."
Started with OPAL (1A: Pick for a pendant), though it took a while to confirm it was right. Wanted KGS for 18A: Narc's measures: Abbr., but that wasn't looking good with 1D: Bellatrix's constellation (ORION), so I took it back to OZS. Knowing this was Caleb and this was Saturday, I had confidence in that "Z." Once PIZZA DOUGH came down, I was off and running. "THE LONG GOODBYE" was a flat-out gimme. Couldn't remember the ECO- answer (34D: Environmental transition area=>ECOTONE). Wanted TYPE. Also wanted LAKERS at 44D: They used to play at the Big A (L.A. RAMS), though I knew that couldn't be right. Eventually got into that SW corner via PERK and EPHRON (49A: Writer and director of "Julie & Julia," 2009). Scariest moment came in the far south, when I couldn't figure out 53D: 10 in un decennio — I had AÑOS — or 61A: 640 57-Acrosses: Abbr. (SQ. MI.) or 56D: John Wayne cop film ("MCQ"). Once I figured out 53D was Latin, then I got ANNI, then SQ. MI. I've heard of "MCQ," but only barely. After that, there were no more scares, and not much that was thorny at all. LIANG was unknown to me (but inferrable) (26D: Sixth-century Chinese dynasty), and I completely forgot STILLER was involved with "Tropic Thunder" (could remember only Robert Downey, Jr.) (15D: "Tropic Thunder" director and co-star), but I powered through both without much trouble. Ended in the NE, which ended up being the easiest part of all.
- 32A: Media inits. since 1970 (NPR) — about the only news outlet I can tolerate these days. I get headlines from folks I follow on Twitter, and then for more in-depth coverage I'll read the NYT, Atlantic Monthly, Slate. Avoid aggregator sites and anything even vaguely tabloidy. In hell, no one can hear you scream *and* the only thing to read is The Huffington Post (hence the screaming).
- 33A: Coin with two stalks of wheat on its reverse (RUPEE) — I had no idea. Then again, why would I? Clue may as well be [Coin].
- 42A: Titanic-taloned terrorizers (ROCS) — Misread as "Titanium-taloned" and thought "Wow, interesting..."
- 52A: Take advantage of a broken line (PASS) — I don't get it. Doesn't feel like football ... or a game show ... nope, I'm lost. [thanks to @foodie for pointing out that this clue refers to passing someone in a motor vehicle]
- 55A: Radially symmetric creature (SEA ANEMONE) — More misreading. Thought it was a "radically symmetric creature," and wondered how something could be more symmetric than symmetric.
- 45D: Tippler's trouble (D.T.s) — Geez, lots of substance abuse in this puzzle. You've got a drunk here and an OPIATE addict in the middle (31A: Deadening agent) and then several OZS of something that's drawn a narc's interest up there in the NW ... and then there's the SEX PISTOLS, of course.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld