Popularity boost due to certain TV endorsement / SAT 4-12-14 / Mythical abode of heroes slain in battle / Fur Traders Descending Missouri painter 1845 / 21st-century pastime for treasure hunters / Pungent panini ingredient / Collages novelist 1964
Saturday, April 12, 2014
Constructor: Mel Rosen
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
Word of the Day: ASCI (47D: Sacs studied by 58-Across) —
An ascus (plural asci; from Greek ἀσκός "skin bag") is the sexual spore-bearing cell produced in ascomycete fungi. On average, asci normally contain eight ascospores, produced by a meiotic cell division followed, in most species, by a mitotic cell division. However, asci in some genera or species can occur in numbers of one (e.g. Monosporascus cannonballus), two, four, or multiples of four. In a few cases, the ascospores can bud off conidia that may fill the asci (e.g. Tympanis) with hundreds of conidia, or the ascospores may fragment, e.g. some Cordyceps, also filling the asci with smaller cells. Ascospores are nonmotile, usually single celled, but not infrequently may be coenocytic (lacking a septum), and in some cases coenocytic in multiple planes. Mitotic divisions within the developing spores populate each resulting cell in septate ascospores with nuclei. (wikipedia)
• • •
PYE DOGS, ALEKSEI, ASCI and BINGHAM (this despite living in Binghamton … no connection, I presume). But everything else was either reasonably common knowledge or slightly uncommon knowledge that I also happened to share. I took one look at 1A: Popularity boost due to a certain TV endorsement and thought COLBERT BUMP. Then thought, "No way. Too show-specific." But it fit so I wrote it in and went after the crosses. Astonished/thrilled when I got a few to work. Pretty timely 1A, I gotta say, what with Colbert getting the (future) Late Show gig just yesterday. I look forward to the inevitable on-air self-celebration caused by this "honor." Anyway, longtime viewers of his Report will be very familiar with the BUMP; others … I don't know. I guess you'll just have to fight your way out of that corner with a sharp object and gumption.
I felt like I kept lucking into answers. 1A was the luckiest, but … take SAFECO. I only learned just last week that SAFECO was an insurance company. Today, that info helped a ton with getting into that SE corner. I filed my taxes today, so I think I just saw that damned IRS logo. It seemed like I was either making lucky initial guesses or having just enough crosses to be able to make sense of some of the longer answers. I got GEOCACHING off the "G," and I'm not sure I would even have needed that (27D: 21st-century treasure hunters). I spend a lot of time in the woods, and every once in a while you see people who look lost, or at least out of place. Geocachers, it turns out. This puzzle has some odd words, but overall it's pretty clean, laudably contemporary, and entertainingly varied in its range of answers. Its faults (there are a few, mainly in the short fill) are eminently forgivable.
Finished in just over 8, though I must've lost at least half a minute in pure Lionel Richie Frustration. I could not accept not knowing a 1987 Lionel Richie hit. "Truly" … "Hello" … "Dancin' on the Ceilin'" … COME ON! I do not remember SELA at all. I'm playing it now … barely registering. "Hit?" It's got a super reggae feel. I guess it beats yet another SELA Ward clue.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld