Name means princess in Hebrew /SAT 7-30-11/ Site War of 1812 Museum / Part of legionnaire's costume / Italian seaport home to Saint Nicholas's relics
Saturday, July 30, 2011
The study of rock strata, especially the distribution, deposition, and age of sedimentary rocks.
• • •Wow. Looking over this grid now, it's hard to see why the solving experience should have been so tough. In typical Berry fashion, this grid has mostly common words / names / phrases—very little in the way of "WTF??"—but the cluing, OH MY. I floundered quite a bit before I got decent toehold, and even then I lost my grip and had to go find a new one at least twice. My greatest struggle came at the very end, as I tried to fill in a tiny 3x4 section of white squares in the far NW. Blank BISCUIT .. ? Blank ANTENNA ... ? Blank LMINDED ... ? Never heard of the first (really wanted SHIT BISCUIT to be right) (1A: Another name for hardtack => SHIP BISCUIT), and have to quibble with the clues on the other two. An often-retractable car part is an ANTENNA. Maybe a HOOD ANTENNA or ROOF ANTENNA. Not a damned AUTO ANTENNA. You already have "car" in the clue, so you're essentially saying a retractable car part is a car antenna. If the clue had simply been [Often-retractable part], I would've got AUTO much more easily. Instead, I thought ROOF, HOOD, AMFM ... even after I got AU- I was just frustrated that AUDIO wouldn't fit. Boo. As for SMALL-MINDED ... that doesn't shout [Selfish] to me. It's a much bigger, or at least vaguer, state, of which selfishness might be a part. I think of bigots as SMALL-MINDED. Anyway, that corner tore me up. I only got it after finally putting SASH (1D: part of a legionnaire's costume) and HUME (2D: Fox News political commentator) in there at the same time. HUME was one of several answers that I had right immediately, on first instinct, but didn't put in ... see also PANE (20A: Italian bread) and BARI (40A: Italian seaport that's home to Saint Nicholas's relics).
Got my first taste of success with BIG APPLE, which I was certain was going to be a Babe Ruth nickname (26A: Nickname popularized by a New York Morning Telegraph sportswriter in the 1920s, with "the"). Guesses of RAH (23D: Cry that's often tripled) and PEP helped me see that one. But I didn't get much leverage out of that answer at all and had to reboot in the far SE, where I made real headway for the first time. Had EGGO and BARN (instead of SOHO, 46D: Loft-y place?) down there in the corner and knew one was wrong. Left EGGO (45D: Brand with Toaster Swirlz) and then luckily just guessed REMINISCES (42A: Chats at a high-school reunion, maybe). It fit, and crosses started to fall from there. I know PLATTSBURGH for its SUNY campus, not (at all) for being the [Site of the War of 1812 Museum]. Also don't really know SALLIE MAE (28D: Lending "lady"). Had FANNIE MAE in there for a bit. Eventually, PASTILLE took care of that problem (36A: Medicate lozenge). Guessed the ON IT part of STEPS ON IT, which allowed me to work the SW from the ground up (27D: Picks up the pace). Then after working my way into the NE and finishing it off, I came at the NW from both sides until I got down to those damned 12 blanks. Then I sat. And eventually I won.
- 19A: Something seen on a pad (HELICOPTER) — Weirdly, wanted HELICOPTER at 12D: Aircraft that doesn't need a runway (FLOAT PLANE).
- 28A: Name that means "princess" in Hebrew (SARAH) — I did not know that. I was expecting a Much weirder name.
- 29A: What "the lowing herd wind slowly o'er" in a Thomas Gray poem (LEA) — couldn't make sense of clue at first because I was saying 'wind' wrong in my head.
- 39A: Source of most of the names in "The Lion King" (SWAHILI) — had the terminal "I," so no problem.
- 4D: Something to clean one's teeth with, maybe (POLIDENT) — the "maybe" confused me. What else are you going to do with POLIDENT? Wax your car?
- 14D: TV family that popularized the term "parental unit" (CONEHEADS) — great clue, but terribly hard. I was, of course, thinking of TV families that actually had their own shows (HUXTABLES, KEATONS, etc.), not families that periodically showed up on a sketch comedy show.
- 40D: Towlines are tied around them (BITTS) — the one answer in the puzzle (besides SHIP BISCUIT) that I'd never heard of.
- 26D: "Goin' to Chicago Blues" songwriter (BASIE) — as in Count. Had the "B" and it still took me a while. I couldn't get BESSY Smith out of my head (who spelled her name "BESSIE," it turns out).
- 35D: Guatemala's national instrument (MARIMBA) — wanted MARACAS. Shows what I know about Central American instruments.