Chair designer Charles / WED 12-10-14 / Greek walkway / Taiwanese PC maker / Street performer in invisible box / Rocker Huey / Land bordering Lake Chad / Title for Tarquinius Superbus /
Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Constructor: Tom McCoy
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: Selenium Hinton — authors whose names start with two initials have those initials reimagined as symbols for elements of the periodic table:
- THORIUM WHITE (for T.H. White) (20A: "The Sword in the Stone" author, to a chemist?) (couldn't remember dude's name and had to *force* myself not to simply do a 180 and look on my shelf…) (also, this clue really really really should've been ["The Once and Future King" author, to a chemist?]—the "Sword in the Stone" is just one volume in "TOAFK," and is better known, title-wise, as a fairly cruddy animated movie)
- CESIUM FORESTER (for C.S. Forester) (34A: "The African Queen," author, to a chemist?) (yes, Lewis would've been better, but Lewis wouldn't have allowed for the all-important theme answer symmetry…)
- PALLADIUM JAMES (for P.D. James, R.I.P.) (43A: "The Children of Men" author, to a chemist?)
- MERCURY WELLS (for H.G. Wells, lover of Margaret Sanger, about whom you can read at length in Jill Lepore's new (fabulous) book, "The Secret History of Wonder Woman") (58A: "The Island of Dr. Moreau" author, to a chemist?)
Lucius Tarquinius Superbus (died 495 BC) was the legendary seventh and final king of Rome, reigning from 535 BC until the popular uprising in 509 that led to the establishment of the Roman Republic. He is commonly known as Tarquin the Proud, from his cognomen Superbus, a Latin word meaning "proud, arrogant, lofty". (wikipedia) (not a single mention of the word "REX" in the whole wikipedia write-up …)
• • •
I laughed out loud at the very first clue I saw (1A: Rocker Huey), which is always a good sign. I mean, it's not ha-ha funny, but something about those two words next to each other got me.
More solid goodness from Mr. McCoy. There's a hell of a lot of luck here, but you gotta be paying attention to be lucky like this—there just aren't that many well-known authors who go by their first two initials, and whose first two initials are also atomic symbols. Then throw in the fact that the thematic tetrad has to be able to fit into the grid symmetrically once their names have been converted to chemistry form … !? It's incredible that there are four such author names in existence, because there aren't that many author names left on the table, frankly. C.S. Lewis. S.E. Hinton, a few others. SELENIUM HINTON actually would've worked as an answer for this puzzle (theoretically, you could swap it out for Forester or James), but the names in the grid are almost certainly and definitely certainly more famous, respectively.
P.S. I get, and applaud, thematic consistency, but I don't really "get" why the book examples in the theme clues are all, also, movies. Feels like it was by design (why "Sword in the Stone" and not the more famous *book* title "The Once and Future King"?), but maybe it's just coincidence. Anyway, that's a kind of "consistency" I would find puzzling, as I do Not see the point.