Gen Pershing's grp in WWI / FRI 12-25-15 / Middle of three-part maxim / High Priest of Shiloh / Performer of Green Hornet theme in 1960s TV / Literary character on whom Captain Hook is based
Friday, December 25, 2015
Constructor: Mary Lou Guizzo and Jeff Chen
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
Word of the Day: AEF (35D: Gen. Pershing's grp. in W.W. I) —
The American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) consisted of the United States Armed Forces sent to Europe under the command of General John J. Pershing in 1917 to help fight World War I . During the United States campaigns in World War I the AEF fought in France alongside French and British allied forces in the last year of the war, against German forces. Some of the troops fought alongside Italian forces in that same year, against Austro-Hungarian forces. The AEF helped the French Army on the Western Front during the Aisne Offensive (at Château-Thierry and Belleau Wood) in June 1918, and fought its major actions in the Saint-Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne Offensives in late 1918. (wikipedia)
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CANDY CANES (the most obvious answer in the grid), there isn't much space given over to theme material. Not white space, anyway. Just ST. NICHOLAS and the four XMAS squares. Visually, this (kind of) says Christmas, but content-wise, it's overwhelmingly a themeless. Feels like there's not much there there. The CANDY CANES element is transparent. The only thing there really is to "get" is the XMAS bit—I like that part. As a themeless, this has strengths and weaknesses, though I think the former outweigh the latter (the latter mostly have to do with a preponderance of short answers, due to the grid shape). "END OF STORY!", HALF-COCKED and NO-LOOK PASS are all wonderful. KGB SPIES totally confused me; that answer, with its massive initial consonant pile-up, was a major contributor to my considerable struggles in the NW. Couldn't come up with BOARDS (kept trying to stretch MCATS ...). Also hard: RIMS (4D: Goes around). Couldn't find the handle on BASK, and kept doubting OLEG because of the improbable "-GB-" juxtaposition it gave me in the answer that turned out to be KGB SPIES. Struggles in that corner were totally offset in the opposite corner (i.e. the SE), where I threw AD AGENCY across and got every Down, one after the other, with no hesitation.
Interesting to cross ALI with SOMALIS, since she is Somali-born (now a U.S. citizen). Also interesting to call a SLED a [Traditional Yule gift] because ... that's news to me. Was Rosebud a Yule gift? Do people still say "Yule" when it's not followed by "tide" or "log" or ("Brennere")? If I've ever heard of / seen AEF before today, I can't recall. Luckily the grid doesn't rely on anything else that antique and abbreviated. I had HE'S A KEEPER! instead of IT'S A KEEPER! at 12D: "Hang on to that one!" I feel like the clue was designed with that mistake in mind. I also had ENTICES instead of ENTRAPS at 36A: Inveigles, as in "He was inveigled / entrapped / enticed into HE'S A KEEPER!—the Charybdis of this grid's eastern half." (Get it? 'Cause the western half has Scylla ... the SEA MONSTER? ... yeah, you get it). Actually, enticing is more the Sirens' job ... hmmm ... rather than mull Odyssean metaphors, I'm gonna pack it in.
Merry Christmas if you celebrate (and Merry Friday if you don't).
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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