Buddhist shrine / FRI 8-17-12 / Compromise of 1877 figure / Nickname in classic jazz / Stronger tomorrow sloganeer / Souther writer William Gilmore / Somalia's locale in Africa / Bay of Fundy has largest one in world
Friday, August 17, 2012
Constructor: Peter Wentz
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
Word of the Day: William Gilmore SIMMS (36A: Southern writer William Gilmore ___) —
William Gilmore Simms (April 17, 1806 – June 11, 1870) was a poet, novelist and historian from theAmerican South. His writings achieved great prominence during the 19th century, with Edgar Allan Poe pronouncing him the best novelist America had ever produced. In recent decades[when?], Simms's novels have fallen out of favor, although he is still known among literary scholars as a major force in antebellum Southern literature. He is also remembered for his strong support of slavery and for his opposition to Uncle Tom's Cabin, in response to which he wrote reviews and a novel. [In case you wanna know what "being on the wrong side of history" looks like—here ya go] (wikipedia)
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STUPA (43D: Buddhist shrine), a word I've never seen before, and one that I'd consider "suboptimal fill" (to put it mildly). Not "stupid," which is what I want to say, for many reasons, but not ... yeah. The "T" cross took me (at the end) a full two runs through the alphabet to get. At that point, the puzzle has ceased being fun and has become a tedious chore. Oh well. Most of the rest of the time I was fairly well entertained, and though there's more clunky stuff than I'd like to see in a typical 70-worder, the grid also had some nice moments. I had the world's weirdest partial malapop* at 26D: "Lookie what I did!" ("YAY ME!"), which I wanted to be "DIG ME!" (which I like better). But I just left ME there and moved on. You can understand my reluctance, then, to believe, later on, that "DIG THIS!" (37D: "Dude, I got something to tell you ...") was right. Two "DIG" phrases in the same grid!? That's not ... oh, that's not what's actually happening. I see.
*["malapop" = wanting an answer that's wrong, only to have it turn out to be the right answer somewhere else in the grid]
F-STOP and OLE in immediately and then stalled in the NW (but apparently never saw CHANG the first time around, 'cause I'd've nailed that—7D: Cho ___, romantic interest for Harry Potter). Other toeholds abounded. Actually, now that I think about it, I'd written in AMNESIA (41A: "The Bourne Identity" plot device) and HOLST (15D: "The Planets" composer) before I even felt like I'd officially "begun" the puzzle. My eyes hit those clues and I couldn't leave them for later. Ended up using AMNESIA to get my first full corner in the SW—if I never see AOXOMOXOA again it'll be too soon (28D: Grateful Dead album whose title reads the same forward and backward). Yes, it's wacky, and yes, we've (or at least I've) seen it, and no, I'm not a Dead fan so I'll never remember it, so ... stow it. WHAT A JERK is solid, of course (27D: "Can you BELIEVE that guy?!").
SIMMS meant nothing to me, as did HAYES (33A: Compromise of 1877 figure) until I got it (haven't thought of the Tilden-HAYES compromise—which ended Reconstruction—since probably high school), so middle of grid was a little dicey. But WALT (47A: Cartoonist Kelly) and OPERAHOUSE (50A: View from the Sydney Harbour Bridge) gave me the SE (exc. &$&#ing STUPA) in pretty short order, and then DIVVY (37A: Split (up)) gave me REALITY TV (11D: "Big Brother," for example) and ARTICLE IV (12D: It includes provision for the admission of new states) instantly. Bam bam. Amazing easiness punctuated by dead stops at brick walls. That's what this felt like. I rammed my head against the wall a full three times at 24A: Having a bad trip, maybe. You wouldn't think that, with SICK already in the grid, I would have much trouble, but ... SEA SICK? No. Oh, "R" from IRIS so ... AIRSICK? ... no? Really? Oh &$%! Me, CARSICK?! Yes.
That's about where I ended (if you disregard STUPA, which I'm willing to do).
- 16A: The Bay of Fundy has the largest one in the world (TIDAL RANGE) — I assume this just means that the tide goes out the farthest, and that a TIDAL RANGE does not involve mountains.
- 26A: QB who threw a record-tying seven touchdown passes in a single game (1962) (Y.A. TITTLE) — a name that's stuck w/ me from my NFL Encyclopedia-reading days (age 11 or so).
- 40A: Nickname in classic jazz (DIZ) — had the "D" and nothing else seemed plausible.
- 2D: "The Pearl Fishers" soprano (LEILA) — no idea. Seen her before, I'm sure, but still, no idea. I know LAILA Alie and LEELA from "Futurama," and LAYLA from "Layla," but not this lady.
- 13D: "A stronger America" sloganeer (JOHN KERRY) — ugh, no wonder that guy lost. I fell asleep just reading that clue.
- 23D: ___ Kramer, 2010 Dutch speed-skating gold medalist (SVEN) — who could forget ... ?(99% of America, probably ... still, super-gettable)