Bygone Finnish coin / SAT 5-16-15 / Rubylike gem / Children of American communists / Exactly informally / Swedish university where Anders Celsius taught / Hall of Famer with exactly 3000 hits / Poet who won three grammys / Highest officer in his field ironically / French pioneer of sing language / Secret society brother to George W Bush John Kerry / Group governed by Imperial Divan
Saturday, May 16, 2015
Constructor: Byron Walden
Relative difficulty: Medium
Word of the Day: RED DIAPER BABIES (31A: Children of American Communists) —
In their book Red Diapers: Growing Up in the Communist Left, Judy Kaplan and Linn Shapiro define red diaper babies as "children of CPUSA members, children of former CPUSA members, and children whose parents never became members of the CPUSA but were involved in political, cultural, or educational activities led or supported by the Party".More generally, the phrase is sometimes used to refer to a child of any radical parent, regardless of that parent's past partisan affiliation (or the affiliation of the child). Red Diaper Baby is also the title of an autobiographical one man show and book by monologist Josh Kornbluth, and a 2004 documentary film by Doug Pray. (wikipedia)
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SPANG / SPINEL. I … do not know those words. At all. I'm especially stunned by SPANG (43A Exactly, informally), as anything clued "informally" should be something I'm at least passingly familiar with. I'm quite informal. I traffic in informalisms all the time. Why, just today, I wrote "gonna," which is an informal way to write "going to" (in case you didn't know). SPANG sounds like something that requires an "!". It's not word so much as sound effect. Like, when you drain a 3 right in some guy's face, you shout "SPANG!" I thought I knew a baseball player named Denard SPANG, but it's just Span. I'm gonna call him "SPANG!" from now on, though. My only point is that I blindly guessed at that "P"—though I guess the guess wasn't totally blind. Process of elimination eliminates (fancy that) many potential letters. Not sure why the "P" was the one I went with. I probably *have* seen both SPANG and SPINEL (38D: Rubylike gem) before. but I don't remember them. I guarantee that cross is going to be blind for a Lot of other people as well, so that's kind of not cool, i.e. not something you want in an otherwise stellar construction. I mean, you don't want NARIS or PENNI, either, but those guys are totally tolerable when they're fairly crossed and holding together really beautiful answer arrangements.
I got lucky right out of the gate. Guessed OSLO then LEAN-TO then PRATE then REMORSE. Couldn't believe I got them all right. I mean, I didn't: LEAN-TO was actually GROTTO, but you can't be lucky if you're not bold, and luck won't matter if you're not mostly right, so … I'm sure there's a solving maxim in there somewhere. The upshot is, I felt like I stumbled into success right here:
I was a little surprised by the grim clue on GULAG (44D: Place bereft of happy campers?). Black humor. You don't usually see cutesy wordplay when the subject is forced labor with high mortality rates. I don't hate the clue—it's clever—but the NYT usually treads solemnly and/or lightly where the suffering of those in internment camps is concerned (perhaps for good reason).