Antares Proxima Centauri / FRI 5-17-13 / NYC 22 replaced it in 2012 / Tree with large seedpods on its trunk / Style of New York's Sony Building / 60s film character wearing one black glove / Literary classic featuring teen Tadzio / Long-running Mell Lazarus comic strip / Focus of stereochemistry / Verano across the Pyrenees
Friday, May 17, 2013
Constructor: Josh Knapp
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
Word of the Day: Jacob ZUMA (4D: Jacob ___, South African president beginning in 2009) —
GCB (born 12 April 1942) is the President of South Africa, elected by parliament following his party's victory in the 2009 general election. // Zuma is the President of the African National Congress (ANC), the governing political party, and was Deputy President of South Africa from 1999 to 2005. Zuma is also referred to by his initials JZ and his clan name Msholozi. Zuma became the President of the ANC on 18 December 2007 after defeating incumbent Thabo Mbeki at the ANC conference in Polokwane. He was re-elected as ANC leader at the ANC conference in Manguang on 18 December 2012, defeating challenger Kgalema Motlanthe by a large majority. Zuma was also a member of the South African Communist Party (SACP), briefly serving on the party's Politburo until he left the party in 1990. On 20 September 2008, Thabo Mbeki announced his resignation after being recalled by the African National Congress's National Executive Committee. The recall came after South African High Court Judge Christopher Nicholson ruled that Mbeki had improperly interfered with the operations of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), including the prosecution of Jacob Zuma for corruption. // Zuma has faced significant legal challenges. He was charged with rape in 2005, but was acquitted. In addition, he fought a long legal battle over allegations of racketeering and corruption, resulting from his financial advisor Schabir Shaik's conviction for corruption and fraud. On 6 April 2009, the National Prosecuting Authority decided to drop the charges, citing political interference. (wikipedia)
• • •
MOST at 26D: Extremely. Coincidentally / frustratingly, that "C" from MUCH plus the "T" from ASTHMA gave me the letters I needed to drop in DOCTOR ... something. NO? No? STRANGELOVE wouldn't fit (!). Jumped down in the SW where I played "MOMMA" (39A: Long-running Mell Lazarus comic strip) off the "A" from ASTHMA, but then put in MOONS at 40D: Antares or Proxima Centauri, a horrible rookie / misreading mistake, since the clue clearly calls for a singular, not a plural (it's M-STAR—one of only a handful of weakish entries in this grid). Even though DOCTOR was wrong, the "D" gave me all I needed for DEMO TAPE, and once I let myself believe first word of 46A: "Think of ___" was IT, I finally saw DOMINO'S at 35D: Pie-baking giant. Everything evened out from there, and the rest of the solve was much smoother going.
SE was toughish, largely because I didn't get ATOMS (44D: Focus of stereochemistry) or MEWL, and SMITE was very slantily clued (48A: Biblical waste? — as in "lay someone to waste?"). Wanted something closer to "YOU"RE WELCOME" at 55A: Favor doer's comment ("YOU OWE ME"). Once those three (lovely) long answers were in place across the center, I found it remarkably easy to get up in to that NE corner; OBJECTIVE game me something MAJOR, MEL C gave me SARCASM, and that was it. Last thing in was ABCS (8D: Brass tacks). Speaking of Cs, this puzzle has more Cs (freestanding, pronounced independently) than I've ever seen in a puzzle. That is, four. ABCS. C MAJOR. MEL C. "CSI: MIAMI". Not sure what to make of that, but there it is.
Started with PAPAW (!?) at 1D: Tree with large seedpods on its trunk, but came to my senses after RUSTY led me (tentatively) to try OYE at 23A: Hernando's "Hey!", which gave me the terminal "O"—which made CACAO obvious. Initial "CS" in turn made "CSI: MIAMI" obvious (17A: "NYC 22" replaced it in 2012), and I was off and running. Big mysteries of the day were ZUMA, TUO, OYE, and M-STAR. Everything else was solid, familiar, lovely—the center stack and all the corners are all really well done, long answer-wise. The center stack is kind of a model, actually. Usually you get at least one clunker in there, some expression with ONE'S or some defensible but not-quite-right phrasing of an action ... but these are just BAM BAM BAM, solid, tight, entertaining, perfect.
- POST-MODERNISM (31A: Style of New York's Sony Building)
- "DR. STRANGELOVE" (34A: '60s film character wearing one black glove)
- "DEATH IN VENICE" (35A: Literary classic featuring the teen Tadzio)
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld