Subatomic particle named for weak force / SUN 8-21-16 / Enigmatic one in Hobbit / Regimen adopted by Bill Clinton in 2010 / Ring around classical column / Jumps higher than in sports slang / Harry's Hogwarts enemy / France's so-called capital of ruins
Sunday, August 21, 2016
Constructor: Kathy Matheson and Jeff Chen
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging ?? Or just Medium, maybe
THEME: "Wonder-Ful!" — tribute to the NATIONAL PARKS SERVICE (80A: Federal agency established on August 25, 1916) on its (roughly) 100th anniversary. Features of national parks are spelled out in circled letters that form the shapes of those features. Then there's some other relevant answers like YELLOWSTONE (32A: Home to more than half the world's active geysers) and YOSEMITE (69A: Subject of many Ansel Adams photos).
- OLD FAITHFUL (spouting upward) (10D: Erupter at 32-Across)
- HALF DOME
- GRAND CANYON
Word of the Day: Henry W. SLOCUM (14D: Henry W. ___, Union major general during the Civil War) —
Union general during the American Civil War and later served in the United States House of Representatives from New York. During the war, he was one of the youngest major generals in the Army and fought numerous major battles in the Eastern Theater and in Georgia and the Carolinas. While commanding a regiment, a brigade, a division, and a corps in the Army of the Potomac, he saw action at Bull Run, the Peninsula, South Mountain, Antietam, Chancellorsville, and Harpers’ Ferry. At Gettysburg, he was the senior Union General in the Field. During the battle, he held the Union right from Culp’s Hill to across the Baltimore Pike. His successful defense of Culp’s Hill was crucial to the Union victory at Gettysburg. After the fall of Vicksburg, Slocum was appointed military commander of the district. Slocum participated in the Atlanta campaign and was the first commander to enter the city on September 2, 1864. He then served as occupation commander of Atlanta. Slocum was appointed the commander of the left wing of Sherman’s march through Georgia and the Carolinas, commanding the XIV and XX Divisions, comprising the Army of Georgia. During this campaign, he captured the capitol of Georgia, Milledgeville, and the seaport of Savannah. In the Carolinas campaign, Slocum’s army saw victories in the battles of Averasborough and Bentonville, North Carolina. The March to the Sea and the Carolinas campaign were crucial to the overall Union victory in the Civil War. After the surrender of Confederate forces, Slocum was given command of the Department of Mississippi. Slocum declined an appointment in the postwar Army. He was a successful political leader, businessman and railroad developer. (wikipedia)
• • •
YOSEMITE and YELLOWSTONE separately. I thought all the geographical features were going to be intersecting their park names in some way ... until I realized DENALI *was* the name of the park. Ditto ARCHES and GRAND CANYON. So there are these two parks just shoved in there and clued pretty straight (albeit with oblique reference to the geographical features in the grid). Something just felt wonky about this whole set-up. But by far the bigger problem here was sheer boringness. There are really only a handful of theme answers, and they're all dreadfully straightforward, and once you see what's going on with the theme, the whole puzzle is just a dull exercise in fill-in-the-parks. The one great moment was spouting OLDFAITHFUL (LUFHTIAFDLO!) shooting right through YELLOWSTONE. Otherwise, none of the wordplay or cleverness that makes crosswords fun.
Between sick pet last week and sick daughter this week, end-of-summer things haven't been so great chez Parker. Don't have the time or energy to go into this puzzle too much. I did appreciate that it was sufficiently hard, for once, although the toughest two sections were a little ... nuts. My tough sections were the NE and dead south. I have never ever heard SKIES as a transitive verb. "I skied you"? I'm sure it's part of the lingo, but I'm not unfamiliar with basketball terminology, so this answer threw me. Also, [Enigmatic one in "The Hobbit"] was bizarre to me. I took "one" as a person, but it's just ... RUNE. One RUNE. I also had TAO for [Life force in Chinese philosophy] and had No Idea who SLOCUM (?) was (14D: Henry W. ___, Union major general during the Civil War), so I actually *needed* the help of the theme / ARCHES to sort all that out. Same thing with GRAND CANYON down below. MIND CANDY? I think I know it as BRAIN CANDY, if I know it at all. SANDP (ampersandwich!) got me (100D: Wall St. "500"). Totally forgot Dick ARMEY existed. Lots of things conspiring to make that section hard for me ... until I realized I could just call in the aid of the theme. GRAND CANYON to the rescue. The rest of this puzzle ... I don't remember at all, and I just solved it. Hope you enjoyed it more than I did.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
P.S. the title is no good. Supposed to be a pun, but it's not nearly Parks-specific enough. Oh, and W. BOSON!? (102A: Subatomic particle named for the weak force) Oof. Just because you have a giant word list doesn't mean you should let it push you around. May the weak force be with ... someone else.
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