Noted kidnapee of 1613 / FRI 1-8-16 / Cosmetician Laszlo / Treaty of Rome creation for short / Hit 1981 Broadway musical made into 2006 film / Krenz last communist leader of East Germany / Combustion contraption / Bogus to Brits
Friday, January 8, 2016
Constructor: Peter A. Collins
Relative difficulty: Medium
Word of the Day: ARGOS (48A: Old Peloponnesian power) —
Argos (/, /; Modern Greek: Άργος [ˈarɣos]; Ancient Greek: Ἄργος [árɡos]) is a city and a former municipality in Argolis, Peloponnese, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it has been part of the municipality Argos-Mykines, of which it is a municipal unit. It is 11 kilometres (7 miles) from Nafplion, which was its historic harbour. A settlement of great antiquity, Argos has been continuously inhabited as at least a substantial village for the past 7,000 years. The city is a member of the Most Ancient European Towns Network. // A resident of the city of Argos is considered an Argive (pronounced //, "AHR-gahyv"). However, this term is most often used to refer to those ancient Greeks generally who assaulted the city of Troy during the Trojan War, many of whom came from Argos. // At a strategic location on the fertile plain of Argolis, Argos was a major stronghold during the Mycenaean era. In classical times Argos was a powerful rival of Sparta for dominance over the Peloponnese, but was eventually shunned by other Greek city-states after remaining neutral during the Greco-Persian Wars. Numerous ancient monuments can be found in the city today, the most famous of which is the Heraion of Argos, though agriculture (particularly citrus production) is the mainstay of the local economy. // In 700 BC there were at least 5,000 people living in the city. In the fourth century BC, the city was home to as many as 30,000 people. (wikipedia)
• • •
DREAMGIRLS" both times, in both its stage and movie incarnations. I mean, I am familiar with the musical, vaguely, but I have no memory of its existing in 1981 (for which I can forgive my stuck-in-central-California 11-year-old self), and no memory of its being a movie in 2006. Was Jennifer Hudson in that? Whoa. Yes. Looks like that's the movie she won her Oscar for. Playing a character named EFFIE White. That's cool—the only other EFFIE I know is Perine, Sam Spade's secretary / Girl Friday in "The Maltese Falcon." Anyway, I had to pepper that 1-Across answer with crosses before I realized what I was dealing with. Luckily, the peppering didn't take too long, as DDAY and RONA dropped early, and then ANOINTINGS, and then RONDO, SRS, GET. Oh, and AGINCOURT, which was a gimme (4D: "Henry V" battle setting). After that, it was a pretty normal Friday *except* for everything in and around SHORT O (24A: Plot element?). Never pleased when the answer that gives me fits is one of these literal (letter-al) clues, referring to a long or short vowel, or a silent letter, or a "hard" G or C, etc. It's tricksiness in a can. My principle of "don't put the difficulty in the ugliest part of your grid" applies here. SHORTO (inherently not great) is up there rubbing elbows with a bad element: SSR and WSW and the unpleasant crossing of ASTO and PASTO. By contrast, the SE was cleaner and STURDY-er, but it also far, far easier.
Had to ask a friend what the "Stock" referred to in 9D: Stock to be split? (LOGS). My suspicions were confirmed: it's just a general word meaning "supply." That isn't log-specific enough for my taste. I get that the misdirection here is stock market-oriented, but that bit of wordplay wasn't worth it. It took me forever to get ABSORPTION, despite thinking "paper towels" immediately. Perhaps that's because even now, looking at the word ABSORPTION ... it just looks so awkward and wrong. Zorption. Orption. Something about the way the letters collide in the middle just feels terribly unnatural to both my eye and my mouth. I have no excuse. Just couldn't process it. I have no idea what a HEAT ENGINE is (26D: Combustion contraption), and PHONEY ... looks it. I have trouble believing in the singular DREG. I prefer my EGONs to be Schiele.
Thanks to Prof. Byron McCane (aka archaeoprof) and his winter Crossword class at Wofford College for having me into their classroom yesterday (via Skype) to talk about crosswords. It was my sincere pleasure. Sorry the camera wasn't working on my end. I assure you I looked fabulous (as did you).
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
PS Yes, I see that the 60A clue mirrors the 1A clue, and no, I don't consider that a theme, or even a mini-theme. Also, been done. As an *actual* theme. Long ago and far away ... (actually not that far: Patrick Blindauer, NY Sun, 2008: DREAM GIRLS, JERSEY BOYS, A FEW GOOD MEN, LITTLE WOMEN)
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