Post-Passover period / SAT 1-31-15 / His servant is Kurwenal in opera / Cousins of harriers / Animistic figures / Thickburger seller / Alternative to babka / Part of goth dude's look / Warriors in L'illiade / Carlos Jackal raided its HQ / Song with lyric until we meet again
Saturday, January 31, 2015
Constructor: Tim Croce
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
Word of the Day: OMER (55D: Post-Passover period) —
Counting of the Omer (Hebrew: ספירת העומר, Sefirat HaOmer, sometimes abbreviated as Sefira or the Omer) is an important verbal counting of each of the forty-nine days between the Jewish holidays of Passover and Shavuot as stated in the Hebrew Bible: Leviticus 23:15-16.This mitzvah ("commandment") derives from the Torah commandment to count forty-nine days beginning from the day on which the Omer, a sacrifice containing an omer-measure of barley, was offered in the Temple in Jerusalem, up until the day before an offering of wheat was brought to the Temple on Shavuot. The Counting of the Omer begins on the second day of Passover (the 16th of Nisan) for Rabbinic Jews (Orthodox, Conservative, Reform), and after the weekly Shabbat during Passover for Karaite Jews, and ends the day before the holiday of Shavuot, the 'fiftieth day.'The idea of counting each day represents spiritual preparation and anticipation for the giving of the Torah which was given by God on Mount Sinai at the beginning of the month of Sivan, around the same time as the holiday of Shavuot. The Sefer HaChinuch(published anonymously in 13th century Spain) states that the Hebrew people were only freed from Egypt at Passover in order to receive the Torah at Sinai, an event which is now celebrated on Shavuot, and to fulfill its laws. Thus the Counting of the Omerdemonstrates how much a Hebrew desires to accept the Torah in his own life. (wikipedia)
• • •
ME LIKEY, because it's creeping me out, but I fully realize that my reaction is not necessarily going to be the most common one. I always felt there was some element of ethnic/racial mockery in that phrase (part of that whole "ching-chong" racist caricature of Chinese English—though some other source I just read claimed the phrase derives from Afr.-Am. / creole speech). People definitely use that phrase, and I'm pretty sure the vast majority use it with absolutely no racial inflection. And yet, I found it icky. I'm not judging: just putting a big "Question Mark" on top of that answer. (Many thanks to Erik Agard for responding to my Twitter query about this phrase with a link to this WaPo article, which refers to what must surely be "ME LIKEY"'s newsworthiness apogee). (And here are more relevant links: one referring to an instance of "ME LIKEY"'s being used in a caricature of Chinese English in a 1930s Charlie Chan film, and the other going into considerable academic detail about the etymological origins of "ME LIKEY," touching on Asian pidgin, creole, Long Duk Dong, and "Family Guy").
I mostly liked this puzzle; it's loaded with colloquialisms, most of them far more unambiguously enjoyable than the one I just mentioned. "I'M AWARE," "HOOK ME UP," "HUMOR ME," and "OH BOO HOO!"—all great. This thing seemed pitched pretty hard, though it may just seem that way by contrast with yesterday's puzzle, which was uncharacteristically easy. Getting started was a bit hard. ARUGULA was a gimme (2D: Plant called "rocket" outside the U.S.), and I clawed my way from there up into the NW corner, but then couldn't escape. Or, rather, I did this weird board game-type move where I landed on one square and used it to jump to a completely different place in the board. That is to say, AGE allowed me to infer YRS (34D: 19-Across units), and then, miraculously, that "Y" bought me GUYLINER. But then I was stuck again. Grid looked like this:
[Minion's reply] = YES … MA'AM? That was all I had for a while. Just couldn't come down out of the NW cleanly. Eventually worked from NEE to get up into the NE (after changing SIGN ME UP to HOOK ME UP). Found the whole NE very hard, despite getting ON A DIME, because HEARTHS was just never gonna come with that clue (8A: Some gathering spots) and I just did an -UP answer and didn't expect to see another so soon (ORDER UP), and Kurwenal shmurwenal and tough (but good) clue on SPELLER (14D: Person breaking his word?). Had to squeeze that corner from both sides to bring it under control. Then went crashing into the SE, thought I was on a roll, but got stuck again, here:
P.S. Early-morning reader mail. This made me laugh: "I’ve never gathered at a hearth even though I have a fireplace."