Historian Will or Ariel / TUE 7-24-12 / Marat's counterpart in a Peter Weiss title / Galvanic cell component / Thick-trunked African tree
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Constructor: Andrew Marc Greene
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: Ain't That a B — Vowel progression puzzle in which each theme answer is a two-word phrase where both words begin with B and are followed by the same vowel in each word (BA___ BA___, BE___ BE___, etc).
Word of the Day: HABIB (31D: Diplomat Philip) —
Philip Charles Habib (February 25, 1920 – May 25, 1992) was a Lebanese-American career diplomat known for work in Vietnam, South Korea and the Middle East. The New York Times in observing his death described him as "the outstanding professional diplomat of his generation in the United States."
Beginning in 1949, his foreign service career took him to Canada, New Zealand, South Korea (twice), Somalia, and South Vietnam. He held the State Department position of Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs from 1967–1969 and was part of the Vietnamese peace talk delegation in 1968. Habib acquired increasingly important posts, serving as Ambassador to South Korea (1971–1974), Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs (1974–1976), and Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (1976–1978), during which time he was the chief mediator for the US between Israel and Egypt in the Camp David Peace Accord. According to some reports, he intervened to save the life of South Korean opposition leader Kim Dae-jung during a kidnapping in 1973. (Wikipedia)
• • •Greetings, CrossWorld -- Evan Birnholz again, reporting for duty. I am the last thing standing between you and the Return of the King, as Rex Parker himself will be back tomorrow. He will no doubt be shocked at how we substitutes have trashed the place in his absence. So let's get down to business and trash the place one more time before he CRASHES the party.
Today's puzzle by Andrew Marc Greene takes a simple concept -- two-word "BB" phrases, proceed in order by vowels -- and provides a solid grid with some good theme answers and decent fill. There were a few not-so-great entries (A DAY here, A-BOO there, some URBS and the partial I NEED), but the grid is otherwise very clean. It wasn't a terribly challenging puzzle, although the southeast corner did give me a little more trouble than the rest of it. That's where I ran into the B-heavy twins BAOBAB (54D: Thick-trunked African tree) -- which I only recall from reading The Little Prince in high school French class -- and NABOB (50A: Big wheel), which was confusing because I don't normally think of "wheel" as a slang term for "guy" unless it's referring to someone as a "third wheel." I didn't know the equally B-heavy HABIB either, but I didn't have to, as all of the crosses there were straightforward.
- 18A: A.T.M. printout (BANK BALANCE) — A legit phrase, but it's probably the weakest of the theme answers. In my experience it's usually shortened to just "balance."
- 32A: Joe Six-Pack's overhang (BEER BELLY) — So, the Joe Six-Pack of this clue doesn't have six-pack abs? That's false advertising, man.
- 41A: Yellow "Sesame Street" character (BIG BIRD) — Weird coincidence: When I subbed for Rex about two weeks ago, "Orange TV character" was the clue for ERNIE, and now, I get the yellow TV character from the same show. I know today was an early-week puzzle, but would it be too much to ask that the next time ELMO makes an appearance that it not be clued simply as "Red TV character" but with something more....ahem....colorful, like "Muppet who saved Christmas in a 1996 TV special"?
- 48A: Portable sources of music (BOOM BOXES) — Not much anymore these days, after they got mostly swept to the dustbin of audio history along with the monstrosity known as the Dictabelt. The last time I saw anyone non-ironically carrying a boom box was when the Joker's henchman Lawrence jammed with one in Flugelheim Museum in the 1989 Batman movie. As I recall, he throws the boom box at Batman at the end of level 3 in the Sega Genesis game of the same name.
- 63A: It appeared before Moses on Mount Horeb (BURNING BUSH) — Didn't it also make a cameo appearance in the cursed video tape in "The Ring"? Or was that a burning tree? YouTube says it was a tree. Whatever. The point is, fire.
(Fair warning: Some R-rated lyrics and content in this video)
- 3D: One reciting others' lines (QUOTER) — Not really a fan of this word, or most words where if you add an R or an -ER onto the end of a verb it becomes a noun that no one really says, where the definition is just "[verb + R] = One who [verb]s." And that's basically what the answer and its clue are: A QUOTER is one who quotes. Just like a STANDER is one who stands. A CRASHER (10D: Uninvited partygoer) is better, though. That leads me to....
- 8A: William Tell, for one (ARCHER) — I so, so wish the clue had been a reference to the animated FX TV show "Archer." My soon-to-be wife and I just started Season 3. It might not be for everyone -- it's very fast-paced and very racy, and has quite a lot of 43A: Driver's license datum humor....I mean SEX humor in that show -- but if it's your type of comedy, holy hell is it funny. Observe clip #1:
And now clip #2:
- 14A: Mich. rival in the Big Ten (O.S.U.) — A Big Ten rival of both schools just got hit with some big penalties: A four-year ban on Bowl games and saw all of its wins dating back to 1998 officially wiped off the books.
- 16A: Historian Will or Ariel (DURANT) — Neither one was familiar to me. They probably should be since I'm gunning to be a historian. The Durant I'm much more familiar with is the three-time NBA scoring champ Kevin.
- 33D: "Still mooing," as burgers go (RARE) — I have not heard this expression before. If your burger actually does start mooing right before you start eating it, then....you might want to get that checked out. Both the burger and yourself.
- 39D: Feline's "feed me" (MEOW) — Whoa, when did the New York Times acquire the ability to speak Cat? How did they know what the feline meant? Cats meow all the time even when they're not hungry, especially my cat, who whines whenever I'm not in the same room as she is. You could have inserted anything inside those quotation marks and it would have been just as good a clue, and you know why? Because MEOW is all they say. Yeah, maybe it's sometimes it's "mew," or perhaps "rrrrowwww," or....however you spell it when they do that weird hissing sound. But it doesn't matter. Because they're cats. And cats can't talk, except to say "meow."
- 66D: Echolocation-using mammal (BAT) — I originally misread the clue as "elocution-using mammal," which would most likely be MAN. Instead it was BAT. Speaking of both, can you tell by all my repeated references to Batman now that I recently saw "The Dark Night Rises"? Oh man, I should tell you all about it! The best part of that movie was when [comment redacted] and [no spoilers here, sorry] totally did the [thing that if I told you was it was, it would ruin everything and you'd hate me oh-so-much for spoiling it for you] and so they [Batman].
And with that, I and all other pretenders for Rex's throne during these past several weeks wish you good BYE.
Signed, Evan Birnholz, Earl of CrossWorld