Simba sobriquet / SAT 7-16-16 / Trendy pseudocereal / Zipcar alternative / 2005-07 sitcom about Gold family / Ninth-century pope who was married with daughter / 1983 hit for Rufus Chaka Khan / Ingredient in Baltimore bracer / Auto option patented by 3M / Wake up on bright side sloganeer / School for Rory Gilmore / Slavering toon
Saturday, July 16, 2016
Constructor: Byron Walden
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
Word of the Day: ADRIAN II (2D: Ninth-century pope who was married with a daughter) —
Pope Adrian II (Latin: Adrianus PP. II, Italian: Adriano II; 792 – 14 December 872) was Pope from 14 December 867 to his death in 872. He was a member of a noble Roman family who became pope at an advanced age. [...] Like his predecessor Nicholas I, Adrian was forced to submit in temporal affairs to the interference of the emperor Louis II, who placed him under the surveillance of Arsenius, bishop of Orte, his confidential adviser, and Arsenius' nephew Anastasius, the librarian. // Adrian had in his youth married a woman named Stephania, by whom he had a daughter, and both were still living at his election, following which they lived with him in the Lateran Palace. They were carried off and assassinated by Anastasius' brother Eleutherius in 868. // Adrian died in 872 after exactly five years as pope. (wikipedia)
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ADRIAN II is about as random as Pope + Roman numerals get, and a "Swan Lake" heroine crossing a French pronoun is both non-scintillating and potentially lethal, but but But ... everything else. I enjoyed the heck out of this, and even stopped at about the 1/4 point to tweet about how much I loved it. The great clue on YOGA MATS (1D: Balance sheets?), the hard-to-parse but ultimately satisfying EEG TESTS (4D: A migraine sufferer might have one), and then the ultimate quadrant closer—I got to ride off on a wave of Chaka Khan and Rufus. It was as if, as I left that section behind, I flipped a light in the roller rink, and the soundtrack to my own personal roller-skating movie started, and off I went.
And the hits just kept coming. So fun to struggle with and then figure out stuff like U.S. PASSPORT (5A: Item that became trilingual in the late '90s) and TV WIFE (28A: Cast mate?). Even the short stuff was made interesting by sly or toughish clues. Even though the puzzle played on the easy side fore me, there was at least some resistance and some entertainment value virtually everywhere I turned. And, with a few exceptions, all the fill familiar, reasonable, and not forced / arcane / stupid. I don't really know what "The WAR AT HOME" is, but the name is at least familiar (29D: 2005-07 sitcom about the Gold family, with "The"). I definitely don't know SATURNISM (45A: Medical term for lead poisoning)—that second "S" was my last letter in, and without the cross I'd probably have guessed SATURNIUM—but its parts were inferrable or gettable from crosses. ART SALON is the one answer that *does* seem archaic, but those were definitely things back in the day (RENOIR's day, for instance), so I have no problem there (34D: Exhibition locale). A smooth, cheery experience, all around. Which I needed, as the news this week has been a &%$* show.
I had a couple of weird missteps. I wanted ACE before AXE (24D: Kill), and, improbably but oddly confidently, TIVO before TINT (27A: Auto option patented by 3M). I justified that last one by reading "Auto" as meaning "automatic," as in "you can set TIVO to automatically record your favorite programs." I was looking for some kind of brand name at 39D: Zipcar alternative (RENTAL), so that wasn't easy, but the surrounding material sure was. With a little more bite, this would've been an ideal themeless puzzle for me. As it is, it's pretty darned close.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
P.S. please note the YO next to ADRIAN
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