Ancient collection of Sanskrit hymns / SAT 1-30-16 / Hungarian hunting dog / Great magician floating lightbulb / Shorts popular in 1920s '30s / River of myth where one drinks to forget / Prize at top of maypole / Sackers in sack of Rome 410 AD / Clothing company whose mail-order catalog debuted in 1905
Saturday, January 30, 2016
Constructor: Samuel A. Donaldson and Brad Wilber
Relative difficulty: Medium
Word of the Day: RIGVEDA (38D: Ancient collection of Sanskrit hymns) —
The Rigveda (Sanskrit: ऋग्वेद ṛgveda, from ṛc "praise, shine" and veda "knowledge") is an ancient Indian collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns. It is one of the four canonical sacred texts (śruti) of Hinduism known as the Vedas. The text is a collection of 1,028 hymns and 10,600 verses, organized into ten books (Mandalas). [...] Rigveda is one of the oldest extant texts in any Indo-European language. Philological and linguistic evidence indicate that the Rigveda was composed in the north-western region of the Indian subcontinent, most likely between c. 1500–1200 BC, though a wider approximation of c. 1700–1100 BC has also been given. // Some of its verses continue to be recited during Hindu rites of passage celebrations such as weddings and religious prayers, making it probably the world's oldest religious text in continued use. (wikipedia)
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A little too precious for me. Definitely way out of my wheelhouse. Technical terms (BRACKEN?) and magicians I've never heard of (BLACKSTONE) and not just the Vedas, which I have heard of, but RIGVEDA, dishes I'd never eat (VEAL MARSALA), maypole activities (?!) (WREATH), a Puffin relative that looks diminutive but somehow isn't (?) (AUKLET), a stock term I don't know (DAWN RAID), something called CREPEY ... so much of it was arcane to me. This was surprising, as I got the NW instantly—every first answer I thought of was right (well, I went with PAPA before MAMA BEAR, but I went in to the Downs very prepared to change that one).
So I thought it would be easy, if not terribly exciting. But then it got a lot harder, and somewhat more exciting, but not much. I didn't have any experience of "ooh, cool answer." All of the longest answers seem dull. Except VISIGOTHS—that's flashy. I don't know ... it's well made, just not to my taste. With the exception of SIPPY CUP and ME TIME (28D: What isn't working?), this feels more Maleskan than Shortzian in its general sensibility.
[10D: Shorts popular in the 1920s and '30s]
I spelled MASSAD thusly and didn't check the cross and so ended with a PORTA / MASSAD error. I don't like that cross, but I should've been able to infer that "O" from the clue, 43D: ___-Novo (capital on the Gulf of Guinea). Otherwise, it was fast, then slow, then done, with very few pleasure points. Clean, well-crafted, not for me.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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