Wood painted to look like cannon / FRI 7-3-15 / Eyeless in Gaza novelist 1936 / Sir Lancelot portrayer of 1975 / Purchases that are puffed slangily / School head in best-selling series of novels / Rock star's nickname derived from his jewelry / Charlotte cream-filled dessert / Poe gaily bedight gallant knight
Friday, July 3, 2015
Constructor: Brandon Hensley
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
Word of the Day: QUAKER GUN (30D: Wood painted to look like a cannon) —
A Quaker Gun is a deception tactic that was commonly used in warfare during the 18th and 19th centuries. Although resembling an actual cannon, the Quaker Gun was simply a wooden log, usually painted black, used to deceive an enemy. Misleading the enemy as to the strength of an emplacement was an effective delaying tactic. The name derives from the Religious Society of Friends or "Quakers", who have traditionally held a religious opposition to war and violence in the Peace Testimony.
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QUAKER GUN, by far the strangest thing in the grid, and, I'd bet my antique hosiery collection, the thing in this grid that the fewest solvers will have heard of. So, the most obscure thing in the grid, I guess. I enjoyed learning about it, though, after I finished and looked it up, so I'm not mad at it. It imparted an odd and curious and not altogether unpleasant flavor to this uneven but mostly decent themeless puzzle. 70-worder really shouldn't have this much dreck in it, but the nice parts are nice. Opened with a couple of proper noun gimmes in the NW:
HUXLEY was the true gimme; SYD was one of those "I think so, but let's see..." answers. When you get a big fat "X" in the middle of your big fat themeless corner, well, advantage you. That corner was done before it knew what hit it. Helped that EARP CIGS and ASA were all gimmes too. Clean corner, nicely done.
Things got a little rougher after THAT. Right around THAT, actually. THAT is a fine answer. But HALEN's a partial and TRAC is junk and ALECS only looks good when you compare it to VERAS (?), which is easily the worst thing in the grid, insofar as ... well, at least several things. LIB is semi-derogatory and "IME" is "IME." No time for "IME" have I (or me). I always thought it was "END SCENE!" Or, rather, I thought it was "AND SCENE," but then thought I must be hearing it wrong (14D: Director's cry with a pause in the middle). ALBUS DUMBLEDORE was too much of a gimme for a central 15 (it's a nice 15, but make me work for it, at least a little) (34A: School head in a best-selling series of novels). And so, with my joy somewhat diminished after the nice NW opening, I arrived midway on my solving journey at ... this place:
Very easy to get into the SE corner, since ANTES and AGAPE were hand-outs. Had trouble finishing EPIC VERSE because we usually just call those EPICs. I enjoyed remembering "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," and then I was done. Speaking of Holy Grail, or Arthurian literature, at any rate, I learned things today about Marion Zimmer Bradley (whose "Mists of Avalon" I quite admire) that I wish I could unknow. Gonna have to rewatch "Monty Python" a dozen times before I shake the ickiness off. Luckily, rewatching "Monty Python" a dozen times—not a problem.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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