W.W. I's longest battle / MON 3-19-12 / Spanish-language newspaper that brings light to its readers / Pedantic quibble / Object retrieved on Apollo mission
Monday, March 19, 2012
Constructor: Jeremy Horwitz
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: "THE GODFATHER" (53A: Academy Award-winning film released in March 1972) — theme answers are the title character VITO CORLEONE (46A: Academy Award-winning role for both 20- and 26-Across) and two actors who won Oscars for playing him, ROBERT DENIRO and MARLON BRANDO (both clued as [Academy Award winner for playing 46-Across])
Word of the Day: The Battle of VERDUN (9D: W.W. I's longest battle) —
The Battle of Verdun (French: Bataille de Verdun, IPA: [bataj də vɛʁdœ̃], German: Schlacht um Verdun, IPA: [ʃlaxt ˀʊm vɛɐdœŋ]) was one of the major battles during the First World War on theWestern Front. It was fought between the German and French armies, from 21 February – 18 December 1916, on hilly terrain north of the city of Verdun-sur-Meuse in north-eastern France.Verdun resulted in 698,000 battlefield deaths (362,000 French and 336,000 German combatants), an average of 70,000 deaths for each of the ten months of the battle. It was the longest and one of the most devastating battles in the First World War and the history of warfare. Verdun was primarily an artillery battle: a total of about 40 million artillery shells were exchanged, leaving behind millions of overlapping shell craters that are still partly visible. In both France and Germany, Verdun has come to represent the horrors of war, like the Battle of the Somme in the British consciousness. The renowned British military historian Major General Julian Thompson has referred to Verdun as "France's Stalingrad". (wikipedia)
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Hey there, everyone. Fresh back from my NYC travels, which were half amazing and half disgusting. Spent my first few days in the city seeing old friends, eating lots of fantastic food, and playing with a painfully adorable 2-yr-old. Got to eat the "Best Doughnuts in NYC" at Dun-Well Doughnuts (stunning). Got to see the Cindy Sherman exhibit at MoMA (stunning). Then the Crossword Tournament happened. I went out for a nice dinner, came back to the hotel, socialized a bit, headed back to the room to sleep, and shortly thereafter got very, very sick. The kind of sick that necessitates your sleeping on the bathroom floor, partly because you don't want to be far from the bathroom and partly because you just don't have the energy to make it back to bed. And so, I missed the tournament. Entirely. My wife brought me puzzles in bed. By Sunday morning, I'd recovered significantly, but still elected not to stay and watch the finale. I just wanted to be in my own home with my own bed and my own TV and my own dogs. Fantastic experience at Port Authority (a statement I doubt anyone has ever made before). Zipped straight home in clean, quiet bus, greeted by sunny, 74-degree weather. And here I am. Feeling about 80%, which I'll take. As for the results of the tournament, they can be found here. Short answer: Dan Feyer won. Again. It was hardly a rout, but in the end, that hardly matters. Oh, and the "Dr. Fill" software program came in 140-somethingth. There were two trick puzzles that just took "him" out at the knees. Read Ben Zimmer's write-up here.
Today's puzzle is beautifully executed, but the theme is so straightforward that it borders on dull. It's a kind of anniversary / tribute puzzle upon which the Letter Count gods were smiling. 12, 12, 12, 12. Remarkable. But not terribly interesting. The fill is lively for a Monday, or at least not dull / stale. Liked MOON ROCK quite a bit, even though I completely misread the clue (10D: Object retrieved on an Apollo mission) as starting with the word "Objective." Me: "'Objective?' I doubt we went there just to get a rock." And later: "Oh..." Also liked VERDUN (as much as one can like a brutally violent battle) and the sassy little clue on TiVO (42D: What may give pause to couch potatoes?). "EL SOL" I've seen before, or that might have given me more trouble than it did (13D: Spanish-language newspaper that beings "light" to its readers). Bold, oddly timely clue on ORAL (16A: ___ contraceptive), and interesting approach to SCHWA at 32A: Either the first or last vowel sound in "Alaska"), which I can't believe wasn't tied somehow to 39D: Politico Palin (SARAH). Overall, no real quibbles, pedantic or otherwise (45A: Pedantic quibble = NIT).
[Dogs, wearing their new neckerchiefs—a gift from "Jen from CT"]