Wolverine's alias in X-Men / SAT 7-16-11 / Chinese tree considered living fossil / Sponsor old radio's Little Orphan Annie / Target of mealybug
Saturday, July 16, 2011
The official Latin name of the Orders of Friars Minor is the Ordo Fratrum Minorum. St. Francis thus referred to his followers as "Fraticelli", meaning "Little Brothers". Franciscan brothers are informally called friars or the Minorites. The modern organization of the Friars Minor now comprises three separate branches: the 'Friars Minor' (OFM); the 'Friars Minor Conventual' (OFM Conv), and the 'Friars Minor Capuchin' (OFM Cap). (wikipedia)
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When I finished this one, I thought, "Wow, nice, easy 70-worder from Patrick Berry." But then I counted: 64 words. 64!? How does anyone get such an astonishingly smooth grid with so low a word count? The grid doesn't shout its level of difficulty at you, but a. those NE and SW corners are huge, and b. there's not a bad entry in the puzzle. Not one. I repeat: not one. Not a single clunker. This is the kind of puzzle that makes even accomplished constructors just shake their heads in amazement. And yet it's probably just about average for Patrick Berry. I'm out of superlatives for this guy.
Thought the puzzle would play hard when I could only stab pathetically at the NW, but then I hit SLED (22A: One drawn to igloos), which led immediately to SHOP (22D: Class of tools?) and LONE (23D: Isolated), which led to ON LEAVE (32A: Not working), PEOPLE (34A: Its first issue featured Mia Farrow on the cover), and then HAVE NO IDEA (24D: Be completely clueless), all in pretty short order. Had trouble with SPOT TEST (not a concept I'm that familiar with) (50: Unscientific means of getting results) and MINORITE (which is embarrassing, as part of my dissertation was about fraternal orders) (44A: Follower of St. Francis), but pieced it all together thanks primarily to SMUSH (39D: Flatten). Floated out of there and up to FLETCHER (English Ph.D. comes in handy, for once) (35A: Shakespeare's collaborator on "The Two Noble Kinsmen"). Got the TREE part of ORANGE TREE (8D: Target of a mealybug), and then BRUISER (33A: Big ox), which allowed me access to that very easy SE corner. The NE corner then stood dauntingly before me, but I had an ace in the HOLE (CARD) (25A: It's shown to a caller)—not only have I seen "A Christmas Story" a billion times, but I've even used "Be sure to drink your OVALTINE" (the message Ralphie discovers using his Little Orphan Annie secret decoder ring) on this blog (at least once) to make fun of hidden message puzzles (17A: Sponsor of old radio's "Little Orphan Annie"). With OVALTINE a big fat gimme, I got PAVING (7D: Covering a lot), and then everything came together from there. Then it was back, finally, to that pesky NW, where ANKLE DEEP came easily (4D: Like the water in inflatable kiddie pools, typically). DONATELLO was just a guess off the -ELLO (3D: Famous relief worker?). Piece of cake from there on out.
- 1A: Mechanisms not meant to be handled (PEDALS) — Nice, literal clue.
- 7A: I.B.M. processor type found in Nintendo's Wii (POWER PC) — thought this would be something super-techie, but turns out it's just the processor from my mid-'90s Mac.
- 16A: Chinese tree considered a living fossil (GINKGO) — GINGKO is how I would've spelled it. Speaking of living fossils, [insert joke about some old person here].
- 20A: A, in the hexadecimal number system (TEN) — if you say so. No idea how / why this is right.
- 39A: Like some short-lived romances (SHIPBOARD) — love that this answer sits under IN LOVE (36A: One way to fall). Only wish CAPTAIN STUBING or CHARO were somewhere nearby.
- 49A: His statue once graced the Cortile del Belvedere (APOLLO) — never saw the clue. Blew through the corner too fast.
- 51A: Literary character fathered by an incubus (MERLIN) — this reminds me that I probably better get my Arthurian Lit syllabus sorted out soon. Classes start again in just six weeks and my books aren't even ordered (typical)
- 1D: Litter producers, in two different senses (PIGS) — I get the piglet sense, but ... how else do they produce "litter?" Oh, it's a different meaning of PIG? Like ... a slob?
- 5D: Wolverine's alias in "X-Men" (LOGAN) — I don't really read Marvel comics, or see the movies, but somehow my gut knew this. I say "my gut" and not "I" because "I" didn't trust it. Gut: "LOGAN!" Me: "Pfft, what do you know?"
- 6D: "He who meanly admires mean things," per Thackeray (SNOB) — another case of gut being right and brain overriding (initially).
- 13D: Political rival of Pericles (CLEON) — I wanted this to be CREON. Isn't CREON somebody? (Yes, ruler of Thebes, major character in "Antigone") CLEON sounds like a handyman or landlord.
- 47D: Pearl S. Buck's sequel to "The Good Earth" ("SONS") — whoa. Just as well I never saw this clue. No idea!
P.S. if you are a Google or Blogger engineer or understand how Google's search engine algorithms work, could you give me a holler (at my posted email address). I am having issues with how Google is treating my site the past few days, and I have No idea why (other search engines=no problems). [To be specific, pages for individual days, which are normally what show up when people do clue searches, have either disappeared or been seriously downgraded (well out of sight) in search rank—weird, as Google *owns* Blogger ...] Thx.