Mariposa relatives / FRI 1-30-15 / Foreign fortress / Setting for TV's Mentalist / Chemical synthesis component / Eldest sister in classic 1868 novel / Heavy-metal band with #1 album "Far Beyond Driven" / Popular video game for wannabe athletes / Weapon in fantasy role-playing game
Friday, January 30, 2015
Constructor: David Phillips
Relative difficulty: Easy
Word of the Day: SEGOS (9D: Mariposa relatives) —
The Sego Lily, Calochortus nuttallii, is a bulbous perennial which is endemic to the Western United States. It is the state flower of Utah. (wikipedia) // Calochortus // is a genus of plants that includes herbaceous, perennial and bulbous species. The genus includes approximately 70 species distributed in North America from south west British Columbia to northern Guatemala and east to Nebraska and the Dakotas. Calochortus is the most widely dispersed genus of Liliaceae on the North American Pacific coast. Of these, 28 species are endemic to California. The genus Calochortusincludes Mariposas (or Mariposa lilies) with open wedge-shaped petals, Globe lilies and Fairy lanterns with globe-shaped flowers, and Cat's ears and Star tulips with erect pointed petals. The word Calochortus is derived from Greek and means "beautiful grass". (wikipedia)
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Someone tweeted at me that this was the easiest Friday he'd ever done. I saw the tweet before I did the puzzle, so naturally I thought, "well, now I'm jinxed." But no, it was, in fact, easy—not the easiest Friday I've ever done, but in the ballpark (a hair's breadth under 5). I got so much positive feedback on my posts where I walk you through my solve with screen grabs of the grid at various stages of completion that I decided to do it again today. Turns out that when I do this with a super-easy puzzle, the results aren't so interesting. I set the timer for 3 minutes and set out. When it went off, I was here:
I actually know what SEGO lilies are, but I had no idea "Mariposas" were also lilies. I thought butterfly. Then I thought, "Oh, these are tribe names I just haven't heard of." But no. Flowers. There were two moments that made this puzzle Really speed up. The first was getting that double-I in WII SPORTS. Obviously WII something (which gave me the "W" I needed for SHREWD), and then two seconds of thought tells me "probably SPORTS." The other quickening agent in this grid was BROAD AX. Got BROAD. Realized SWORD didn't fit. Tried AX. That "X" was all I needed for XEROXED, which blew open the E and SE. It also helped having pop culture gimmes lying around all over the place. "SCHOOL'S OUT" features strongly in one Richard Linklater movie. ETHAN Hawke features strongly in at least four others. So if you're a Richard Linklater fan, this was your lucky day. I never watched "GILMORE Girls" or "The Mentalist" (46A: Setting for TV's "The Mentalist"), but I had enough crosses in place to make the answers to those clues easy.
For a puzzle that went down so easily, it tripped me up a lot. Wrong answers included WANE (for SHED), FOAM (???) (for MOAT), LATTE (for CAFFE), OCTAD (for OCTET), A DOSE (??!) (for A DASH), and TEEN (for GEEK) (50D: Fanboy or fangirl). Overall, I liked the puzzle fine. There was some longer stuff I found less than enjoyable: EPEEIST, CARTOONED, ALLEMANDE, REAGENT. I like CARTOONED right up until the -ED ending, when I liked it less. The ADASH SEGOS REAGENT CEE-LO part is a bit weak. You'd say "IS THAT OK?" not "IS IT OK?" You'd say "IS IT OK if …" Little things like that grate. But overall, this thing has good bones, and the marquee answers are generally quite entertaining. It's weird to me that it's just 66 words, since it played like and looks like a 70- or 72-worder. I think this is a result of all the cheaters (black squares that don't increase word count—i.e. the black squares after SHREWD and before CASBAH, after "SCHOOL'S OUT" and before SACRAMENTO, after OFF HOURS and before PHARAOHS, after PASTES and before IS IT OK? Highly segmented grid, lot of opportunities to get a foothold, clues set to Medium-Low … all this made solving a breeze. A mostly enjoyable breeze.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
P.S. The indomitable Bernice Gordon has died at age 101. She was a long- (LONG-) time crossword constructor. Please check out her obituary (beautifully written by Deb Amlen).
P.P.S. Also read constructor David Steinberg's remembrance of Ms. Gordon, which is awfully touching.