Punic war agitator / FRI 12-26-14 / Game played by British schoolkids / Acronymic weapon name / Tanyard sight / Love ballad from 1973 album Goats Head Soup / Vessels of Napoleonic war
Friday, December 26, 2014
Constructor: Patrick Berry
Relative difficulty: Easy
Word of the Day: WESSEX (42D: Alfred the Great's kingdom) —
Wessex (//; Old English: Westseaxna rīce, "kingdom of the West Saxons") was an Anglo-Saxon kingdom in the south of Great Britain, from 519 until the emergence of a unified English state during the early 10th century. (wikipedia)
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ASIAGO (1D: Often-grated cheese). BOMB (?) for SLOB (4D: Home wrecker?). And then two words that I just can't accept. CONKERS (!??) (why would anyone know this? Is this in Dickens novels or something?), and LONGIES (oh no. no no. no. I'm wearing them right now, I wear them virtually every day from November to April, and no. "Long johns," yes. LONGIES? Yuck ugh and hell no. This is a beautiful grid, generally, but CONKERS and LONGIES made me grimace. Also, no abbr. hint anywhere in the MAYO clue, which I also deeply dislike (29D: Ingredient in Marie Rose sauce). I also simply have never ever ever heard of Marie Rose sauce.
Gimmes were reasonably plentiful, though: GENA, USA, GRAMOPHONES, ESPN. Then, with just the initial letter in place: AKIMBO, SWEPT, "ANGIE," NOVELLA. And one I got going, there was traction everywhere. NW and SE were hardest to get into, given the limited access routes. But GRAMOPHONES and MR. DEEDS got me out of the NW, and NOVELLA (38D: Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men," e.g.) got me into the SE, so there just weren't any scary parts. It was just nice. A nice way to come down from a pretty massive Christmas meal. I've said it before and I'll say it again, to get a middle section like that, with answers from 6 to 14 letters long all running through each other, to come out that smoothly takes incredible talent and artistry. Berry, as usual, makes it look easy. Nothing flashy. Just clean, unforced fill. Nice.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld