Website with virtual animals / FRI 6-10-16 / Vernacular much debated in 1990s / Literally land of sun / Tamid synagogue lamp / Classic R&B hit about returning lover / Green Hornet trumpeter
Friday, June 10, 2016
Constructor: David Steinberg
Relative difficulty: Medium (E-M for me, but ... proper nouns troubles might getcha)
Word of the Day: BARBUDA (38D: Island north of Antigua) —
Barbuda is an island in the Eastern Caribbean, and forms part of the state of Antigua and Barbuda. It has a population of about 1,638 (at the 2011 Census), most of whom live in the town of Codrington. (wikipedia)
• • •EMPEROR PALPATINE (16A: Film villain who says "Your feeble skills are no match for the power of the dark side") is not Vader-famous, despite being an important figure in the "Star Wars" universe, and NEOPETS, well, god help you there. I was pretty chuffed when I "got" that one right out of the box ... then less chuffed when it turned out I didn't "get" it at all. See, I have a daughter who was the right age to enjoy "website(s) with virtual animals" (the fact that said sites still exist is news to me). And my daughter, like many children, did a lot of art as a child (painting and what not). And like a lot of parents, we hang said art in our house–daughter has her own special gallery that we also refer to as "the downstairs bathroom." So if you ever go in there, you will see her amazing visual-art tribute to her virtual animal obsession of yore (seven letters!):
WEBKINZ seemed like suuuuuch a David Steinberg thing to put at 1-Across, what with its Scrabbly letters and high youth content. But no. Thankfully, I could tell right away that no [Prominent feature of a sloth] was going to fit the "N--" pattern. "Uh, NUT? Hmm, I did not know that. Also ... that's pretty ... colloquial." So out went WEBKINZ and I had to get NEOPETS mostly from crossess. SRO was my first answer (sold right out!) but after that it was LACY and ATAT, and I started hacking at the NW from there. Once I got a grip, I was flying pretty good there for a while.
But bottom half was a little tougher, largely because I could not parse "I HEAR YOU KNOCKING" and I honestly had no familiarity with BARBUDA—a kind of Frankensteinian hybrid of "Bermuda" and "Barbados" and "barbituates" that proved very EELY for me. OCTO also killed me. I had OCHO, then thought "Oh, no, quattuor is Italian," and so wrote in ... OTTO. I know "seven" is SETTE, so ... OTTO? Ugh. That tiny error had massive repercussions, the largest of which was my racking my brain to remember a song called "I HEAR YOU KNOW KING." Maybe it was a song from the Civil Rights era? About the late Reverend? But no, OWTO surely wasn't 2x quattuor. I worked this all out without too much grief. It was nice to have at least a little resistance from a Friday puzzle, finally. Grid was very nice; there was some hot junk like NER and ATAT, but otherwise it was very very polished and balanced and thoughtfully clued.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
P.S. wife just walked in to tell me that off the "E" in WEBKINZ (see! she made same mistake) she wrote in EDITION for 2D: Issue (EMANATE). Turns out that "E" is correct (from NEOPETS), and that if you know NEOPETS (or WEBKINZ!) and write it in first, then EDITION is a hell of a trap.
P.P.S. just noticed this is 16 wide. This is the second 16-wide themeless I've seen recently. Apparently constructors are being encouraged to open their unused bag of 16s and let the answers fly. Fine by me.
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