1985 john malkovich film / THU 11-15-12 / Palindromic girl / Soul singer Bryson / Orbit Eclipse / Parent company of Oscar Mayer / Clooney's ER role / Breaking Bad airer
Thursday, November 15, 2012
Constructor: Andrew Reynolds
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: TREES (71A: There are six hidden in this puzzle in appropriate places) — circled squares across middle of the grid spell out FOREST, and intersecting each on of the letters in FOREST is a tree:
Word of the Day: "Per ARDUA ad astra" (35A: "Per ___ ad astra") —
Per ardua ad astra ("Through adversity to the stars" or "Through struggle to the stars") is the motto of the Royal Air Force and otherCommonwealth air forces such as the RAAF, RCAF, and RNZAF. It dates from 1912 and was used by the newly formed Royal Flying Corps. (wikipedia)
• • •
ARBOR from the clue (___ Day, five letters, first thing that came to mind), and then proceeded to fill in the grid, expecting any second to run into some theme material, but it never materialized. Unless you count TREES, which I guess you should, but it's not as if that word really changed anything about how I finished solving the puzzle. When I was done, I tried to figure out where the TREES could be hidden. Hey, there's one, inside Meryl STREEP. OK ... and ... then ... huh. No more TREES. Then (and only then) did I notice the circled squares. I think my aversion to circled squares is now so deep that my brain refuses to process them. Anyway, the TREES ended up being in the FOREST. I thought maybe this theme was trying to illustrate the expression "can't see the FOREST for the TREES," but I'm guessing that's not really the case, mostly because I could see the FOREST, but couldn't see the TREES at all (at first). I've seen other, better tree-themed puzzles before. And I haven't seen FIG trees in a FOREST before. I didn't hate, or even strongly dislike, this puzzle. It was just ... interesting. Odd. Curious.
REAPPEARS or DELMONICO showed up. Didn't see irrelevant because my palindromic girl was ANA, not AVA. Was kicking myself mid-solve for not coming up with ARDUA. That motto is usually used to clue ASTRA (a far more common entry than ARDUA), so since I knew I'd seen it a lot, I figured the answer would just come to me ... with one cross? ... two crosses? ... oh, come on! Had ADD TO instead of ADD ON and CAW instead of COO, the latter of which resulted in my favorite wrong answer of the night: TWO-MAN instead of NORDIC (58A: Like some Winter Olympics events). Never thought I'd be glad to see "ELENI," and I wasn't glad, exactly, but that little nugget of crosswordese certainly made the north a good deal easier than it might otherwise have been. I was reluctant to put in ROSS because I was sure "Friends" was running interference in my brain. Turns out ROSS was Clooney's character's *last* name, not his first. PEABO I knew because his name is PEABO and who could forget something like that.
- 62A: One of the five major taste sensations (UMAMI) — Sounds suspiciously like a 1985 John Malkovich film.
- 9D: Persuade through razzle-dazzle (SNOW) — this clue doesn't persuade me that it's correct. In SNOW, there is the implication of deceit. "Razzle-dazzle" merely implies showmanship (though the creation of confusion appears to be part of the showmanship, in some cases).
- 28D: French-speaking African land (MAURITANIA) — got this one rather easily despite the fact that if I was forced to name as many African countries as I could, I wouldn't get to this one for a good, long while, if at all. It sounds fictional to me.