Cartoon title character adapated from Felix Salten novel / THU 11-24-16 / My Orcha'd in Linden classic poem / First tribe encountered by Lewis clark / Biz bigs / Viking character
Thursday, November 24, 2016
Constructor: Brian J. MacDonald
Relative difficulty: Easy
- MONTANA NEST (17A: *Place where kids aren't found now) (Montana = MT = "empty")
- NEBRASKA TIME (27A: *Whenever) (Nebraska = NE = "any")
- ILLINOIS SEAT (44A: *Air passenger's request, maybe) (Illinois = IL = "aisle")
rock band that formed in Nashville, Tennessee, in 2000. The band is composed of brothers Caleb Followill (b. January 14, 1982, lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Nathan Followill (b. June 26, 1979, drums, percussion, backing vocals) and Jared Followill (b. November 20, 1986, bass guitar, backing vocals), with their cousin Matthew Followill (b. September 10, 1984, lead guitar, backing vocals). // The band's early music was a blend of Southern rock and blues influences, but it has gradually expanded throughout the years to include a variety of genres and a more alternative, arena rock sound. Kings of Leon achieved initial success in the United Kingdom with nine Top 40 singles, two BRIT Awards in 2008, and all three of the band's albums at the time peaked in the top five of the UK Albums Chart. Their third album, Because of the Times, also reached the number one spot. After the release of Only by the Night in September 2008 the band achieved chart success in the United States. The singles "Sex on Fire", "Use Somebody", and "Notion" all peaked at number one on the Hot Modern Rock Tracks chart. The album was their first Platinum-selling album in the United States, and was also the best-selling album of 2008 in Australia, being certified platinum nine times. The band's fifth album, Come Around Sundown, was released on October 18, 2010. Their sixth album, Mechanical Bull, was released on September 24, 2013. The seventh studio album, WALLS, was released on October 14, 2016. The group has 12 Grammy Award nominations, including 4 wins. (wikipedia)
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SRA and ATPAR, ugh. When the answer I was struggling to see before I got out of there ended up being OTOES, well, my happiness dial was turned all the way down to 1, and my hopes were not high. Too much junk packed too tight into square one (figurative square one—there's like 25 actual squares in my "square one" today ... is "Square One" the name of a breakfast cereal, because if not, it really, really should be...) OK where was I ...? Oh, right. Junk fill party in the NW. Puzzles that begin that way usually continue that way—but, in an unexpected Thanksgiving miracle, not this one. This one cleaned up its act, and fast. With a couple of exceptions, short fill stayed tolerable, but then bam, those long Downs started coming in, and they are all fantastic: RATFINKS! ALL SMILES! SMELL TEST! GO TO TOWN! I mean, dang, that's a grand slam, where long non-theme Downs are concerned. It's weird how once I started enjoying the puzzle, I also started *flying* through the puzzle.
But there was another down turn. Namely, the theme reveal. I enjoyed discovering the theme up there at MONTANA NEST, hacking my way through that Bizarro phrase, then thinking about how it could possibly be the answer to [Place where kids aren't found now], and then ... Figuring Out How. In My Head. No. Revealer. Needed. I thought "Oh, this'll be fun, trying to figure out which states are involved and how ... cool." But then I run into this totally unnecessary, clunky, giant divided revealer, which is not only massively anti-climactic—it takes valuable real estate away from another potential themer. Puzzle buckles under the weight of its own ponderous over-explanation. You gotta have some faith that solvers can work this out for themselves, or else have some other, subtler way of doing the reveal. Maybe STATE alone could've borne that weight if clued properly. Anyway, that was a drag. But the generally cute theme and lively grid win out, I think. Hard to stay mad at a Thursday puzzle I do this fast (almost a minute faster than yesterday).
- 1A: Male hedgehogs (BOARS) — I had BEARS. I know this makes not a lot of sense, but they look more like bears than BOARS to me. This made my "tribe" (from 2D: First tribe encountered by Lewis and Clark) start with an E, so I thought ERIES. Unfortunately, my "tribe" went on to start ET- so ... unless there were some British boys who formed a lost "tribe" called the ETONS ... yeah, I knew something was wrong.
- 48A: Spanish dramatist ___ de Vega (LOPE) — I knew this. Unfortunately, I "knew" it was LUPE. I also thought I knew 8D: Film for which Gregory Peck had the highest-paid performance of his career, with "The" when I plunked down ROBE ... a film that Peck wasn't even in ... the answer is "OMEN."Then there was the small problem of thinking 1D: Cartoon title character adapted from a Felix Salten novel was BABAR (it's BAMBI).
- 16A: "My Orcha'd in Linden ___" (classic poem) (LEA) — I have no idea what I'm looking at here. Any part of it. It's gibberish to me. "Classic?" "Poem?" If you google this, right now—my orcha'd—you will get an entire page of crossword bot sites (don't click on any of them, they're horrible SEO junkfests). My point is classic shmassic. It's by someone named William Barnes ... of whom I also have never heard.
- 46D: Cheats, euphemistically (STRAYS) — great clue. I also liked the basketballness of 51D: Baskets made from beyond the arc, informally (TREYS). Better basketball than Yet Another playing card-related answer. (Note: I'm not really mad at playing cards per se; just bridge; all bridge clues; can't stand 'em; never lead anywhere good? ONENO?! No, thanks)
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
P.S. The blog gets mentioned in the New Yorker podcast this week. You can listen for yourself, if you want.
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