Civil rights activist Helen Burroughs / SUN 11-20-16 / Famous crosser / Some break dancers informally / Major theme of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep / Wham-O toy introduced in 1961 / Biblical figure referred to as son of desert / Fourth-largest news agency in world / Patron saint of soldiers athletes / Cassock wearer / Yossarian's tentmate / One dishing out digs
Sunday, November 20, 2016
Constructor: Ed Sessa
Relative difficulty: Medium
- MAGELLAN / PACIFIC
- LINDBERGH / ATLANTIC
- MOSES / RED SEA
- MAO / YANGTZE
- WASHINGTON / DELAWARE
- NAPOLEON / BEREZINA
The Berezina or Biarezina (Belarusian: Бярэ́зіна; pronounced [bʲaˈrɛzʲinɐ]) is a river in Belarus and a tributary of the Dnieper River. [...] Napoleon Bonaparte's army suffered heavy losses (about 36,000) when crossing the Berezina in November 1812 during his retreat from Russia (see Battle of Berezina). Since then "Berezina" is used in French as a synonym of catastrophe. (wikipedia)
• • •WASHINGTON / DELAWARE came without my having to think at all, whereas the YANGTZE does not leap readily to mind when I think of MAO, and the BEREZINA? Well, I've never heard of that. Ever. I am certain I'm not alone in that. There's also the minor but pretty hilarious problem, caused by theme crowding, of LINDBERGH's crossing not only the ATLANTIC, but the RED SEA as well. Just him and MOSES ... leading the Israelites ... (if you know anything about LINDBERGH's, uh, political leanings, then this imagined team-up is especially funny). There are some interesting longer non-theme answers in the grid—I particularly like the DIET SODA / SEXOLOGY juxtaposition, for some reason—but overall, filling this in felt more like drudgery than fun.
The shorter fill is once again particularly noxious. A GIBER (AGE TEN!) who REPENs his XOUTS? Man, XOUTS really truly hurts. Can't fathom anyone's using or saying that ever. Lots and lots of other over-familiar repeaters, and not a lot of payoff. I have no problem with some low-rent junk if it's holding up something lovely, but not much is truly lovely here today. Today's difficulty was mostly in the vague cluing. [Entice] for BAIT, for instance. I needed 3/4 of that before I could tell what was going on. And occasionally there was (for me) difficult trivia, like ANZIO, NANNIE, and (as I've already said) BEREZINA. [7-up, e.g.] is a pretty good misdirect, though the uncapitalized "U" should've clued me in that it wasn't referring to the soda brand. See also the very next Down, 6D: Partridge family member (HEN), which I thought was referring to the musical TV show of the '70s. But there were no tenacious trouble spots. I had MACK at 10D: ___ truck instead of TACO. That probably caused the most problems.
So, hey, this week I'm launching "On The Grid," a (probably) monthly crossword podcast with my friend Lena Webb. We taped the first installment last month in Somerville, MA, and now it's edited and done, so if you have 24 minutes, give or take, check out Episode 001: "MAI / TAI". Thanks.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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