Donizetti's lady of Lammermoor / THU 3-10-16 / John Donne poem with line starting It suck'd me first / It holds 5148 potential flushes / Hawaiian bowlful / French writer who co-founded newspaper Combat / Marxist exhortation to workers of world
Thursday, March 10, 2016
Constructor: Ed Sessa
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: VWS (65D: Bugs, e.g. ... or a hint to this puzzle's theme) — five rebus squares that read "V V" in the Across and "W" in the Down:
- FLI VV ER (20A: Old jalopy) / W BA (21D: Ring master's org.)
- TECH SA VV Y (26A: Proficient, computerwise) / RENE W ER (12D: Longtime subscriber, maybe)
- HI VV ACCINE (37A: Subject of medical research since the 1980s) / COLESLA W (5D: One side of a diner?)
- RE VV ING UP (53A: Gunning) / LO W TIDE (42D: When a sandbar may appear above the waterline)
- CI VV IES (59A: Mufti) / SA W (51D: Perform some millwork)
Alexander Frederick Douglas-Home, Baron Home of the Hirsel KT PC (//; 2 July 1903 – 9 October 1995) was a British Conservative politician who served as Prime Minister from October 1963 to October 1964. He is notable for being the last Prime Minister to hold office while being a member of the House of Lords, before renouncing his peerage and taking up a seat in the House of Commons for the remainder of his premiership. His reputation, however, rests more on his two spells as the UK's foreign secretary than on his brief premiership. // Within six years of first entering the House of Commons in 1931, Douglas-Home (then called by the courtesy title Lord Dunglass) became parliamentary aide to Neville Chamberlain, witnessing at first hand Chamberlain's efforts as Prime Minister to preserve peace through appeasement in the two years before the outbreak of the Second World War. In 1940 Dunglass was diagnosed with spinal tuberculosis and was immobilised for two years. By the later stages of the war he had recovered enough to resume his political career, but lost his seat in the general election of 1945. He regained it in 1950, but the following year he left the Commons when, on the death of his father, he inherited the earldom of Home and thereby became a member of the House of Lords. Under the premierships of Winston Churchill, Anthony Eden and Harold Macmillan he was appointed to a series of increasingly senior posts, including Leader of the House of Lords and Foreign Secretary. In the latter post, which he held from 1960 to 1963, he supported United States resolve in the Cuban Missile Crisis and was the United Kingdom's signatory of the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in August 1963. (wikipedia)
• • •
FLIVVER very well because it is among a very elite set of words I know *only* because of crosswords. (Ask me about my extensive old-timey wino-related vocabulary). When an answer in a crossword makes you fall flat on your face, it tends to stick with you (see UKASE, ORIBI, and on and on ...). So the answer was obviously FLIVVER. Only FLIVVER didn't fit. Aaaaaand I got the theme. I did a version of this theme (an excellent one) nearly a decade ago at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, although in that case I think instead of a rebus the Vs were actually in separate squares, which was Really disorienting. I'm not sure VWS is a very good revealer here. It's more W / Vs. The double-V makes the revealer inaccurate. I didn't think this puzzle needed a revealer at all and was surprised to run into one there at the end. For a simple theme, I thought it was very well executed—lots of nice interesting longer answers, reasonably clean fill, and, I mean, come on: "THE FLEA" (2D: John Donne poem with a line starting "It suck'd me first..."):
["It suck'd me first, and now sucks THEE" (14A: Pronoun in "America the Beautiful")]
A very literary poem, with Donne's poem next to AEOLIAN (3D: Wind-blown), a word I know only from Coleridge's "The AEOLIAN Harp" (though in that case, it's spelled EOLIAN ... but nevermind the details). Shelley's "To a Skylark" lurks on the other side of the grid as well (61D). I had a bunch of little errors, all easily corrected:
- DUMAS for CAMUS (5A: French writer who co-founded the newspaper Combat) — had only the "M" at that point, and jumped at the first French writer I could think of whose letter pattern fit the bill.
- LEAP AT for LASH AT (55A: Attack) — I guess LEAP AT usually implies a desire to possess rather than a desire to kill. But I had ...
- SEW for SAW (51D: Perform some millwork) — yes, I know SAW and "mill" really should've gone together easily, but it's Thursday, and I always assume I'm being tricked in some way. I'm sure the number of SEWing terms I don't know are legion.
- ALEN for ALEC (34A: Former British P.M. Douglas-Home) — I know there's some guy out there named ALEN. I figured this was him. Shrug.
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