All or Nothing rapper 2005 / FRI 6-22-12 / Breakers ahead / Algebraic unknowns / Traveler in 1957 news / Tree related to ylang-ylang / King who consulted witch of endor / Literally pick me up / Ancient rival of Judah / Tree whose leaves were once smoked by Indians
Friday, June 22, 2012
Constructor: Josh Knapp
Relative difficulty: Challenging
Word of the Day: MIDRIB (21D: Main vein) —
The central or principal vein of a leaf.
Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/midrib#ixzz1yU7qsbxu
• • •ZOE (4D: Actress Caldwell), GOTTI (25A: "Growing Up ___" (2004-05 A&E reality show)), PFC/FLESH, a very tentative MONA (26A: "___ Lisa") (figured that *had* to be a trap), and LAKER (54D: Staples Center player). That was it for a while. I ended up building the puzzle out of the north-middle, when a good guess at LEAPT AT finally got me BUZZKILL, which got me the NW and most of the way through the north-middle *except* XANDY—XAN- looked nuts to me, and I couldn't figure out how it could be a plural. Also, never heard of MIDRIB, so that didn't help. YATES (30D: David who directed the final four Harry Potter films)? No. I mean, heard of him, but ... no help. Wanted Gates, but David Gates was the lead singer of Bread, so I sort of knew that was wrong. KITSCHY and then, eventually, TIRAMISU (34A: Literally, "pick me up") let me into the NE. I never would've guessed PAPAW or CARTA, wanted TAFT Act (!?) instead of RIOT Act, and had SEE where DIG belonged. All fixed, eventually.
FAT JOE (48D: "All or Nothing" rapper, 2005) and TUVALU (49D: Second-smallest member of the United Nations, by population) were tough, but by the time I saw their clues, I had most of their letters in place, so they actually didn't slow me down at all. Little slower in the SW, where I had to wait several moments for ED HARRIS's name to come to me (38D: "Apollo 13" actor), and where I couldn't believe I couldn't retrieve a Madonna "hit" from my young adulthood—my best friend from college has a truly massive Madonna collection, 20+ years in the making, so I feel somewhat obligated to have at least a passing familiarity with the "hits". In my defense, nobody would name "RESCUE ME" in a list of the first 10 Madonna songs they can think of (37D: 1991 Madonna hit). Seems like the kind of answer that should've been clued as the F/X show about firefighters starring Denis Leary. Aaaaanyway, my lids don't "flip" (!) when I BLINK, and AMINE could've been AMINO for all I know, and LES is pretty generic, and the distance from [Breakers ahead] (?) to PERIL is huge, for me, so I slowed to a methodical crawl at the end. Rough. But good. Would've loved it (more) as a Saturday puzzle, but I'll take this. Pretty damned pop-culturey, but I've never minded that sort of thing much.
PAPAW and SUMAC are good 'ole crossword trees, but the clues on both were tough (9A: Tree related to ylang-ylang + 28D: Tree whose leaves were once smoked by Indians). Knowing crossword stalwarts helped me out in some other places too (EDOM, DYNES) (23A: Ancient rival of Judah + 27A: Relatives of newtons). Couldn't figure out what could possibly substitute for a beverage. I mean ... it's a beverage. What the hell besides Another Beverage could take its place? But turns out it's a *beverage* that is a substitute (for another beverage) (CREAMER). Pulled ENGEL out of god knows where (53A: Richard of NBC News)—can't say I *know* him, but got him off E- and -L somehow. Figured the [King who consulted the Witch of Endor] was Macbeth or Duncan. SAUL came only with crosses. Only "Matrix" character I could remember was Neo until crosses jogged my memory and gave me MORPHEUS without too much trouble (67A: Captain of the Nebuchadnezzar, in "The Matrix"). SPUTNIK is a "Traveler"? Yikes. I thought human. Also, at [There might be one on a hero], I thought sandwich. As with MONA, I thought the clue was up to something ... only it wasn't ... which is its own kind of sneakiness, on a Friday.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld