Cockney pal of Mary Poppins / FRI 11-23-12 / Blowgun dart poison / Kylver Stone letter / Leaf bisectors / Evan's best friend in Superbad / Mythological lyrist / TV character who said KO instead of OK
Friday, November 23, 2012
Constructor: Patrick Berry
Relative difficulty: Medium
Word of the Day: RHYTHM STICK (4D: Elementary school percussion instrument) —
a small wooden stick used, especially by a child, as a simple percussive instrument inlearning the rudiments of musical rhythm. (dictionary.com)
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RHYTHM STICK (except in the Ian Dury song, posted above) or a DAYMARE (28D: Fight when it's light?) and I don't know who BERT is (48A: Cockney pal of Mary Poppins) and have only barely heard of MIDRIBS (probably in some other crossword) (35A: Leaf bisectors). Seeing the full phrases AT A LOW EBB and FROM A TO Z failed to excite me, and there's nothing else very 'zazzy in either of those corners. I think the NW is the nicest area by far. The rest is just fine, but lacks that Berryesque sparkle I know and love, though there are some fantastic clues. I especially liked 17A: Kids whose parents fight? for ARMY BRATS (that struggle *did* have a payoff) and 6D: One raise in Amish country for BARN (the second thing I put in the grid, right after TUBE).
On the other hand, some clues didn't do much for me. Found the Oprah quote irritating for a number of reasons—I like my maxims classical, or at least, you know, accurate. Who in the world can remember [Evan's best friend in "Superbad"]. I saw that movie. I know that SETH Rogen was in it, but ... that's not what's being asked here. People remember character names from "Superbad"? That seems unlikely. Oh, no. Sorry. McLovin'. That name, I remember. But SETH? Not so much. Of all things ORION is known for, I'm guessing walking on water is down the list (55A: He could walk on water, in myth). What kind of a horn is an ALTO HORN? (53A: Instruments also known as mellophones) Never heard of it, and thus clearly never heard of mellophones. How in the world is there a dutch cheese in queso relleno? So many things about this puzzle are at least mildly grimace-inducing.
- 10A: Biblical prophet who railed against idolatry (MICAH) — no idea. All from crosses.
- 15A: Big-eyed toy (CHIHUAHUA) — dog angle came easily to me, as I watched part of that dog show on NBC today (an ugly, prissy dog won, as usual).
- 26A: Minor-league team of Toledo (MUDHENS) — "M*A*S*H" to the rescue (at least I think that's how I know this)
- 34A: 1960s-'70s dance partner of Nureyev (FONTEYN) — figured this was Joan. It's Margot. This shows what I know. I had the -EYN ending and the rest was easy.
- 57A: Musician/radio host Steven Van ___ (ZANDT) — from the E Street Band. And "The Sopranos."
- 11D: Org. that disarmed in 2005 (I.R.A.) — watched John Huston's "The Dead" (1987) earlier this evening, so Ireland was on my mind, even though that movie is based on a Joyce story and has zero to do with the I.R.A. ... oh, no, wait, I think there was some mention of republicanism. Pre-I.R.A. (movie was set in 1900s), but related.
- 40D: Blowgun dart poison (CURARE) — this is a pretty old-school crossword answer. Maybe I know it from somewhere else, but really, what are the odds?