River through Pomerania / THU 2-13-14 / Evangeline locale / City known as Florence on Elbe / 1963 movie with the tagline Everybody who's ever been funny is in it
Thursday, February 13, 2014
Constructor: Daniel Landman
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: MAD rebus — four MAD squares in the central Down answer, then one additional MAD square in each quadrant
Word of the Day: ACADIA (7D: "Evangeline" locale) —
Acadia (French: Acadie) was a colony of New France in northeastern North America that included parts of eastern Quebec, the Maritime provinces, and modern-day Maine to theKennebec River. During much of the 17th and early 18th centuries, Norridgewock on the Kennebec River and Castine at the end of the Penobscot River were the southern-most settlements of Acadia. The actual specification by the French government for the territory refers to lands bordering the Atlantic coast, roughly between the 40th and46th parallels. Later, the territory was divided into the British colonies which becameCanadian provinces and American states. The population of Acadia included members of the Wabanaki Confederacy and descendants of emigrants from France (i.e.,Acadians). The two communities inter-married, which resulted in a significant portion of the population of Acadia being Métis.
Today, Acadia is used to refer to regions of North America that are historically associated with the lands, descendants, and/or culture of the former French region. It particularly refers to regions of The Maritimes with French roots, language, and culture, primarily in New Brunswick,Nova Scotia, the Magdalen Islands and Prince Edward Island, as well as in Maine. It can also be used to refer to the Acadian diaspora in southern Louisiana, a region also referred to as Acadiana. In the abstract, Acadia refers to the existence of a French culture in any of these regions.
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MADELINE," didn't fit (wrote in "ELOISE" even as I thought to myself, "The Plaza is not in Paris…") (16A: Title girl in a children's books series set in Paris). Wanted "IT'S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD," didn't fit. I actually flailed a good bit before finally getting my first gimme at ELROY (20D: The Jetson boy), then flailed some more before the next gimme, "PNIN" (9D: Nabokov novel after "Lolita"). got me going in the NE. But after I got the rebus (at MADDEN), the puzzle just deflated, interest-wise. I think the central answer is a cute way to showcase the rebus, but with the rebus mystery gone, there was just the matter of where the MAD squares were going to be. And with only average fill throughout, there just wasn't a lot to ooh and aah over. I loved His AIRNESS. The rest felt a little flat. It's a standard rebus with no real flair—one nice marquee answer, a couple of interesting bits of non-theme fill, and that's about it.
KEEN EAR and SORE ARM feel very GREEN PAINT-ish to me, i.e. they're kind of arbitrary adj./noun pairings. Yes, they are real phrases, but they aren't exactly strongly self-standing. I enjoyed seeing CLAUDIA Cardinale—a not uncommon feeling among many male movie-goers of the '60s, I suspect. She co-starred in one of my very favorite movies, Sergio LEONE's "Once Upon a Time in the West." Very important precursor to everything Tarantino ever did. Also has my favorite Henry Fonda performance of all time. Sinister to the teeth. Fantastic. Anyway, CLAUDIA is in it. Memorably.
[Sid Caesar, 1922-2014]
P.S. The Finger Lakes Crossword Competition will be held in Ithaca, NY on Saturday, Mar. 1, 2014. I'll be there, "judging" or "lurking around" or something like that. Proceeds to benefit the literacy programs of Tompkins Learning Partners (TLP.org). All the info you need here.