Dickens schemer / SUN 11-25-12 / Quest of astronomer Percival Lowell / Largest moon in solar system / Fictional writer in John Irving best seller / Big Red Machine hustler / Jurassic suffix / Snoop Lion's genre / Four-time role for Patrick Stewart / Excommunicator of Martin Luthor
Sunday, November 25, 2012
Constructor: Jeff Chen
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: "A Little Extra" — "Note: Fourteen symmetrically placed answers in this puzzle are each missing a part ... which can be found elsewhere"; the missing part is an "X"—each missing "X" can be found in an adjacent black square, with each black/X square being a part of the large black "X" in the center of the grid.
Word of the Day: PLANET X (13D: Quest of the astronomer Percival Lowell) —
Following the discovery of the planet Neptune in 1846, there was considerable speculation that another planet might exist beyond its orbit. The search began in the mid-19th century and culminated at the start of the 20th with Percival Lowell's quest for Planet X. Lowell proposed the Planet X hypothesis to explain apparent discrepancies in the orbits of the gas giants, particularly Uranus and Neptune, speculating that the gravity of a large unseen ninth planet could have perturbed Uranus enough to account for the irregularities. [...] Today, the astronomical community widely agrees that Planet X, as originally envisioned, does not exist, but the concept of Planet X has been revived by a number of astronomers to explain other anomalies observed in the outer Solar System. In popular culture, and even among some astronomers, Planet X has become a stand-in term for any undiscovered planet in the outer Solar System, regardless of its relationship to Lowell's hypothesis. Other trans-Neptunian planets have also been suggested, based on different evidence. (wikipedia)
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PROFESSOR X and the X-MEN involved in the theme feels like double-dipping. But overall, I think the theme is nicely done. Further, the grid has an impressive amount of white space, with big blocks of interesting long answers like YOSEMITE SAM (63D: Mustachioed cartoon character) and CALLIGRAPHY, POPEMOBILE (113A: Widely used term declared "undignified" by John Paul II) and PETE ROSE (57A: Big Red Machine hustler), T MINUS ZERO and HITS BOTTOM. Gave the puzzle a level of interest beyond the theme. Enjoyable.
- 46A: Je ne sais quoi (X FACTOR) / 13D: Quest of the astronomer Percival Lowell (PLANET X)
- 15D: Beano competitor (GAS-X)
- 4D: Excommunicator of Martin Luther (LEO X)
- 7D: 1992 Denzel Washington title role (MALCOLM X)
- 58A: Four-timei role for Patrick Stewart (PROFESSOR X) / 60A: Almost every man in the world has one (X CHROMOSOME)
- 65A: Followers of a boom? (GENERATION X) / 72A: More precise alternative to scissors (X-ACTO KNIFE)
- 88A: Lunar mission commanded by Thomas P. Stafford (APOLLO X) / 94D: G's opposite (X RATING)
- 91D: Novelty glasses (X-RAY SPEX)
- 112D: Comic book mutants (X-MEN)
- 114D: Wii alternative (XBOX)
- 49A: His tomb is a pilgrimage site for both Muslims and Jews (EZEKIEL) — news to me. The only potential answer I could think of was ABRAHAM.
- 80A: Largest moon in the solar system (GANYMEDE) — Zeus's cupbearer. "Cupbearer" both is and is not a euphemism.
- 93A: Morgan le ___ (Arthurian sorceress) (FAY) — I'm in the middle of Marion Zimmer Bradley's _The Mists of Avalon_ right now (for the class I'm teaching). It's an epic (i.e. enormous) retelling of the Arthurian legend from the perspective of four main female characters (including Morgan—or "Morgaine"). I remember being a bit bored by it the first time I read it, but I'm loving it this time around. Not sure what changed.
- 24D: Snoop Lion's genre (RAP) — I just love the utterly nonsensical name "Snoop Lion" so much. You may remember him by his erstwhile moniker, Snoop Dogg.
- 65D: Fictional writer in a John Irving best seller (GARP) — I saw this movie in the theater when it came out. I was 12. I was ... too young. But one of the results of seeing a movie like that when you are "too young" is that it really Really stays in your brain. Also, just to do some random free association, Glenn Close is in that movie, and Glenn Close is in "Damages," which I started watching today, with Ted Danson, and both of them were in the 1984 TV movie "Something About Amelia" with actress Roxana Zal, who was in the 1987 movie "River's Edge," Which I Also Watched Today. P.S. Roxana ZAL's relative lack of fame is crossworld's loss.