Violin virtuoso Leopold / SAT 2-23-13 / Board game found in Egyptian tombs / Yeomen of Guard officer / Dublin-born singer with 1990 #1 hit / Mil branch disbanded in 1978 / Roots family surname / Cerebral canals
Saturday, February 23, 2013
Constructor: Todd Gross
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: balls — actually, none (there are symmetrical numbered balls clues, but that's not a theme ... unless the whole puzzle is ball-shaped, and thus ... who knows/cares?
Word of the Day: EXON (35A: Yeomen of the Guard officer) —
A sequence of DNA that codes for protein synthesis that is transcribed to messenger RNA.
[ex(pressed) + -ON1.]
Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/exon#ixzz2Lgover4U
[Actually, probably this ...]
• • •
An exon is one of the officers rank in the Yeomen of the Guard.
The first mention of Exon is in the ceremony of All Nights, which is fully described in the chapter relating to Charles II. They were added to the staff of officers in 1668 just about the time when Marsham’s account of All Night was written. The derivation and meaning of the word Exon has been and is a puzzle to many, but it is undoubtedly the French pronunciation of the word exempt. An exempt was an officer in the old French Garde Du Corps. “Exempts des Guedes du Corps” are described in a military dictionary as “Exons belonging to the Body Guards,” There was in France an officer of police called “Un Exempt (exon) de Police.” When Charles II formed his Horse Guards he created a commissioned officer who was styled indiscriminately the exempt or the Exon, and in each of the two troops this officer ranked with the Captain. There is further confusion connected with the title of Exon, for in his commission he is styled corporal. But it appears that in Elizabeth’s reign “corporal” was a commissioned officer, and the term was synonymous with Captain. Down to the time of the Coronation of George III, which took place on 22 September 1761, corporal was only another word for Exon, as may be seen on referring to the official programme of the Coronation, wherein mention is made of “the Corporals or Exons of the Yeomen of the Guard.” The exempt in the French Garde du corps always had charge of the Night Watch, and the Exon is the English Body Guard was especially appointed for that service. Curiously enough the word Exempt is also used in the orders of the Yeomen of the Guard with its English meaning. (wikipedia)
This is why only the best of the best should go to such a low word count. Why oh why would you make a *mostly* good themeless when the parts that are *not* good are *so* not good. You're close! Work on it 'til it's right. EXON is terrible, but I'll give you that. And I'll give you EDAS, I guess, though that's pushing it (7D: Writer LeShan and others). IEST ... ugh, OK, we're reaching my limit, but still—the long answers around the whole circle really are nice, so ... fine. Now all you have to do is finish up in the center and bam, done. So go ahead. Do it. Always Be Closing! But this—what is this? CER? (28D: Battle of ___ (first Allied victory of W.W. I)) Uh, OK, we're limping toward the finish line now, but it's in sight, it's in sight, IT'S NOT FAR. It's ... uh ... oh come on. Really? This is the whimper with which this world ends? SE-ET / A-ILINE? (Board game found in Egyptian tombs + Chemical used in dyes). I realize now, in retrospect, that if ANIL is a dye (the crosswordesiest of dyes, but a dye nonetheless), then ANILINE perhaps should be inferrable. To some. But I guarantee you that that one square is going to derail scads of folks today. And not in a "oh, too clever for me, wish I coulda figured it out" kind of way. No, in a "what? [run the alphabet] ugh, I give up" kind of way. That. Crossing. Is. Objectively. Terrible. This puzzle should've been accepted conditionally—the condition being "fix that damned center." Long answers, good. Short answers, and esp. middle, unacceptable. As a constructor-friend said just now: "The longer entries are nice but can't make up for the short fill. This puzzle is like eating a pint of Ben & Jerry's and then getting tased."
But for that one square, the puzzle wasn't that hard for me. Many of those longer answers were gimmes or near-gimmes. I put in METROSEXUAL (12D: GQ sort of guy) off the "M." SINEAD O'CONNOR (10D: Dublin-born singer with a 1990 #1 hit) off the "SI-." STAPLES CENTER with just a smattering of letters in place. Once I got the top set up, the rest of the big circle seemed to fall like a series of dominoes—inexorably. But the creamy center, the dreaded creamy center, accessible by only two roads—the dominoes did not have any effect there. I actually knew both words leading into that center, but I still struggled somewhat. And then I was staring at just SE-ET / A-ILINE. The end. I guessed "M"—wrong! I guess "N." Right. The end.
Thought 1A: Dragging vehicles were DOG SLEDS or some kind of SLEDS. Wrong kind of drag (ROADSTERS). I did not know SAMUEL ADAMS was 10A: Massachusetts governor after John Hancock, but he wasn't too hard to piece together. I had OMNIA for OMNES at first, but ITERA looked wrong as the plural [Cerebral canals]. And it was (ITERS). So I fixed OMNIA. Young adult series about vampires somehow fall outside the entire reading Venn diagram of my household, which is surprising, as young adult stuff gets consumed by the bucketload here (not by me, but by wife and daughter). Sorry, TOD (26A: "The Chronicles of Vladimir ___" (hit young adult book series about a vampire). Leopold AUER was a gimme! AUER will be with me forever, as he derailed me very early on in my blogging career, and I have never forgotten. I might have sworn eternal vengeance, I'm not sure. Wasn't sure of the spelling on KINTE, but guessed right (41D: "Roots" family surname). Sumac by any other preceding adjective is still YMA (47D: Soprano Sumac). 1978 did nothing to lead me to WAC, but crosses were all easy, so, no sweat (48D: Mil. branch disbanded in 1978).
Nothing else to say, so goodnight.