Small flycatchers / TUE 6-7-16 / Oxide in rubies sapphires / shapes of bacilli bacteria / yale affectionately / classic song that starts mid pleasurse palaces though we may roam
Tuesday, June 7, 2016
Constructor: Peter A. Collins
Relative difficulty: Challenging (*for a Tuesday*) (still well under 5 min. so don't freak out)
THEME: NEEDLEPOINT (24A: Popular setting for 17- / 18- / 19-Across) — an attempt to depict a "HOME / SWEET / HOME" (17A: With 18- and 19-Across, classic song that starts "Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam") needlepoint, with a giant SLATE ROOF covering a wee THREE / STORY / HOUSE (47A: With 53- and 56-Across, certain abode).
Word of the Day: PHOEBES (40A: Small flycatchers) —
The genus Sayornis is a small group of medium-sized insect-eating birds, known as phoebes, in the tyrant flycatcher family Tyrannidae; they are native to North and South America. // They prefer semi-open or open areas. These birds wait on a perch and then catch insects. Their nest is an open cup sometimes placed on man-made structures.
They often slowly lower and raise their tails while perched.
The full list of species is:
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THREE-STORY HOUSE (arbitrary) because those make nice symmetrical little designs in the grid, *not* because they are exactly what one would expect to find on a "HOME SWEET HOME" NEEDLEPOINT (not "cross stitch"?). Further, "HOME / SWEET / HOME" is a "classic song"? If by "classic" you mean "once famous by now nearly totally bygone and erst and onetime," OK. I have no idea what this song is. I have a feeling that it contains the lyric "be it ever so humble, there's no place like home." I figured that was part of some shlocky poem, not a song. I've never heard it sung. If you google [home sweet home song] you get ... well, I think you know what you get:
If the double metal-umlauted Mötley Crüe had been in that clue, I'd be singing a slightly different tune right now. But "classic song" does nothing for me.
Also doing nothing for me: OLD ELI (??) (36A: Yale, affectionately). WFL (?!?!?!?!) (44A: 1974-75 pigskin org.). WtF(L)? What is the "W" for? "Women's"? Nope: World Football League. You're kidding, right? A short-lived nothing of a league from the mid-'70s that I'm only just hearing about just this second despite being an obsessive sports fan as a kid from roughly 1977 on? That's quote poor. Ditto plural ASHTONS and actually-a-plural-name-but-you're-trying-to-disguise-it-as-a-plural-bird PHOEBES. Also, REORG. Also, MEECE. Yuck. Love love love the long Downs, and kind of like FREE PR, even though the expression is actually FREE PRESS. Difficulty today came from most of the above, but also wicked clues on AISLE (35D: Dairy ___) (!?) and CEDILLA (38A: Façade feature). Further, I couldn't remember the exact name of DAMON's buddy, even though I'm pretty sure I played one or the other of those two guys in a school play in elementary school. I think I had PYTHEUS or some such.
And now a brief word about this past weekend's Indie 500 crossword tournament in D.C. It was great fun, as the smaller indie tournaments (like this one and Lollapuzzoola) always are, though both of those are getting increasingly not-so-smaller. Indie 500 had considerably more participants than last year and nearly maxed out the venue (a nice ballroom on the campus of GWU). There was a prom theme, with "couples" responsible for all the puzzles (plus a little prom photo station with balloons where you could take prom pictures). There was also pie. There is always pie at this tourney. Good pie. And, for the winners in various cateogries, tiaras (objects that are both prom- and crossword-appropriate). Roger Barkan won the whole thing (Roger is not to be confused with Howard Barkin, who won ACPT earlier this year). He had a cheering section, which was novel / amazing.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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