Nagg's wife in Samuel Beckett's Endgame / FRI 2-15-13 / Piranha director 1978 / 1890-1941 Italian colony / Ziploc bag introducer / CW series based on French film / Wicker seat place / Knuckles the Echidna's company
Friday, February 15, 2013
Constructor: Tom Heilman
Relative difficulty: Medium (tilting slightly toward the Easy side)
Word of the Day: LITOTES (39D: Figure of speech like "not unlike") —
n., pl., litotes.
A figure of speech consisting of an understatement in which an affirmative is expressed by negating its opposite, as in This is no small problem.
[Greek lītotēs, from lītos, plain.]
Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/litotes#ixzz2Kw1sTwH7
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This is pretty damned good for a puzzle with a relatively low word count (62). The only real cringer was ILL-GOT (48A: Procured unlawfully, old-style) (Add TEN to that one, and you've got a deal). I had the weird experience of getting the longer answers very easily, but struggling a bit with the short stuff. NELL held me up badly (43A: Nagg's wife in Samuel Beckett's "Endgame"). No idea, so I couldn't move through that section and into the SE easily at all. And then there were the 3s in the SE. I guessed JOE DANTE (51A: "Piranha" director, 1978), but then couldn't figure out how the J or the O or the E was right, and so took him out ... only to put him back in again a little bit later. I don't know that meaning of "extrude" (JUT). I think of extruding as something done to meat, perhaps in the making of sausage. I can't think of a word where -OSE = "-ish," but I'm sure some exist. And ... well, ESA is obvious in retrospect, but I think I was unsure if there was some meaning of "demonstrative" in 53D: Spanish demonstrative that I wasn't getting. It's just a demonstrative pronoun. Other than these small but significant snags, I sailed through this with some lucky guesses and some up-my-alley stuff. Knew right off the bat that 1A: Smelting ended it was an AGE, but I couldn't remember which. So I wrote in AGE, got all the Down crosses, and took off like a shot from there. Got THIS INSTANT from the TH- and GAS ENGINE from the GA-. Took a little bit longer to get RINGSIDE SEAT and SLIDING SCALE, but not much longer. Got COPACETIC from the -T-C. ALOUETTE from the L (!?) (36D: Kindergarten song). I did have some general slowness in the SW, with only a misspelled KEENAN in there for a bit, until I stumbled on the clue for LITOTES. Hurray for somewhat ARCANE literary knowledge! I got that one instantly and the SW fell from there. Once I figured out SPREAD EAGLE (9D: Like a snow angel maker, at times), the NE opened up, and I finished things off at the PROPEL / APOLAR "P".
I think people will have trouble today coming up with the not-exactly-highbrow pop culture— specifically "NIKITA" (50A: CW series based on a French film) and JOE DANTE— and then with the Beckett (NELL). That [Wicker seat area?] might crush some folks too. I'm guessing there's some senator named Wicker. Needless to say, never heard of him (him?). Yup, Roger Wicker, R-MS. Who the hell outside Mississippi knows that? ERITREA might be a little difficult for people to pick up as well (10D: 1890-1941 Italian colony). Not sure why it came to me so quickly–possibly because when I think of Italian colonies, I think of Ethiopia, which is ERITREA-adjacent (just to the south).
That is all.
For those who missed my Thursday announcement: "American Red Crosswords"—a collection of 24 original puzzles that I put together to benefit the Red Cross's Disaster Relief Fund—is available for download now from americanredcrosswords.blogspot.com. Puzzles were edited by Patrick Blindauer. Will Shortz wrote the introduction. And many, many big-time constructors donated their talents. So go donate to the Red Cross, download some puzzles, and enjoy the weekend.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld