Algonquin chief / SAT 1-12-13 / Pico Mountain innovation of 1940 / One of Macbeths thanedoms / 1992 chick-lit best seller set in Phoenix / Sad Sack's lament / Portrayer of June Henry June
Saturday, January 12, 2013
Constructor: Doug Peterson and Brad Wilber
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
Word of the Day: SACHEM (1D: Algonquin chief) —
- A chief of a Native American tribe or confederation, especially an Algonquian chief.
- A member of the ruling council of the Iroquois confederacy.
- A high official of the Tammany Society, a political organization in New York City.
Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/sachem#ixzz2HjD9jkwq
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Felt much harder than it was, I think. What do I mean by that? Basically, brain said "ouch" but clock said "meh." My time was definitely higher than average, but not inordinately so. There seemed to be a lot of clues I didn't understand (sometimes even after I had the answer). I only vaguely remember ever seeing the word SACHEM before, and I wasn't entirely sure it was right, but that "H" was the only thing I could think of to put there, even though HAMS made *no* sense to me as an answer for 18A: On-air hobbyists? I was thinking of HAMS as overactors, excessive emoters, scenery-chewers, etc. so the "on-air" kind of made sense, but the "hobbyists" really didn't. Not until just a few minutes ago did I realize that HAMS must be a word for ham *radio* operators. This is not a world whose lingo I am familiar with. I am, however, familiar with comic books, and I have to say that the clue on CATSUITS seems pretty bogus (34D: Wear for some superheroines). I can think of only one such superheroine, and she isn't actually all that "super" (this road leads us into the dark "is Batman really a *super*hero?" forest, so let's not go there). Are the non-Catwoman superheroines (which I'm sure exist) really familiar enough to warrant this clue (even if we conceded that Catwoman is "super," which I don't).
But I digress. The grid is actually very nice, and the cluing largely devilish but totally defensible. I just had lots of trouble getting a grip. Kind of brutal that the more memorable thanedom of "Macbeth" (i.e. CAWDOR) is also six letters. Ugh. That "green jam" clue was brutal (22D: Green jam ingredient?). I had I SWEAR well before I had I SHALL (2D: Promising start?). The way I finally got into this grid was via pop culture, namely "Lord of the Rings" (27D: "The Two Towers" army = ORCS), UMA Thurman (28D: Portrayer of June in "Henry & June"), and JAFAR (9D: "Aladdin" villain). These gave me the traction I needed to get into the top part of the grid. Once I finally got going, I moved around the top half of the grid reasonably easily, but then stalled out on my way down (both in the SW and in the S, right around LATTE). TELEVISE (instead of TELECAST) kept me stuck in a rut for a bit (57A: Air), but then COLE Hamels and the Jaguar XKE got me moving again. Once I broke open those 15s, the formerly intractable SW opened right up and I ended up finishing at the "F" in FORMS (30A: Much paperwork).
- 1A: Birder's reward (SIGHTING) — I am regularly rewarded with a SIGHTING of a hawk who appears to set up shop regularly on the island formed by a cloverleaf on-ramp that we use nearly every day. He is highly visible because the trees are sparse and short, and he is Huge. I call him Fat Hawk.
- 32A: "If you can find a better car, buy it" pitchman (IACOCCA) — got it off the -CA. I don't remember the pitch, but that guy was one of the biggest businessman-celebrities of my childhood / adolescence. Maybe The biggest.
- 40A: "Deo vindice" was its motto: Abbr. (CSA) — no idea. All from crosses.
- 51A: Pico Mountain innovation of 1940 (T-BAR) — what mountain? Ah, I'm told that's a ski area in Vermont. OK then.
- 52A: 1992 chick-lit best seller set in Phoenix (WAITING TO EXHALE) — wow, "set in Phoenix" couldn't have been less helpful if it tried. I remember this title mainly from the mid-90s movie starring Whitney Houston.
- 32D: Sad sack's lament ("I CAN'T WIN") — seemed like it could've been a lot of things. "I'M A LOSER" fit.
- 41D: Barista's injuries (SCALDS) — morbid. Also, weird as a noun.
- 48D: Anti-cavalry weapon (PIKE) — pulled this word from somewhere out of my adolescent D&D-playing past. Did not feel right. But whadya know...