Popeye villain who sailed black barnacle / THU 11-17-16 / Work not of buffa style / Longtime home of Tappet Brothers / Video game featuring archaeologist heroine / Tree frog with distinctive call / One of eggs used in this 1986 film is now exhibited in Smithsonian / Insect with multi-queen colonies
Thursday, November 17, 2016
Constructor: Timothy Polin and Joe Krozel
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
Word of the Day: PHARAOH ANT —
- PYRAMID SCHEME (17A: Common scam)
- TOMB RAIDER (21D: Video game featuring an archaeologist heroine)
- PHARAOH ANT (23D: Insect with multi-queen colonies)
ant notorious for being a major indoor nuisance pest, especially in hospitals. The pharaoh ant, whose origins are unknown, has now been introduced to virtually every area of the world, including Europe, the Americas, Australasia and Southeast Asia. This species is polygynous, meaning each colony contains many queens, leading to unique caste interactions and colony dynamics. This also allows the colony to fragment into bud colonies quickly. Colonies do not display aggression toward each other; this is known as unicoloniality. Monomorium pharaonis is also notable for its complex foraging system, involving intricate trail routes maintained with several pheromones. It was the first ant species discovered to use a negative (repellant) pheromone. These chemicals are integral for communication in this species. Pharaoh ants are a tropical species, but they thrive in buildings almost anywhere, even in temperate regions provided central heating is present. (wikipedia)
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The pyramid effect is expressed neatly enough in those lower black squares, but nothing about the rest of the grid really screams or even whispers "pyramid" (feel free to walk up to random people today and whisper "pyramid" in their ear, spookily—call it "the pyramid challenge," film it, it'll be great). Full-blown pyramid woulda been cool—semi-pyramid with antennae, less ... evocative. But the concept, I still dig. And it played like a pretty clean and interesting Friday, and who doesn't like that? I will say that the meta was a little too easy to get. Would've been cool if figuring out MUMMY involved something more complicated / clever than just plugging in letters that correspond with numbers in the grid. But I'm spoiled by my regular solving of killer metas by the likes of Matt Gaffney, Erik Agard, Francis Heaney, so my standards are perhaps unreasonably high on that count. Enjoyment was had. By me. Passive voice!
Had trouble raiding this tomb, at the outset, because I briefly blanked on ALBOM and briefly blanked on when Passover is (I wrote AUG—?!), and then PEEPER (11A: Tree frog with a distinctive call) I wanted to be PEWPEW (*much* more "distinctive call," PEEPER—you might wanna look into it), and once LIFT got into my brain for 2D: Get off the ground? (LEAP), it didn't want to leave. Not sure why that clue has a "?"—it's pretty literal, although, OK, I guess when your clue is a phrase commonly used as a metaphor and you want us to take it literally, sure, "?" No problem. After I got the NW sorted, I tore through the rest with no issues. Briefly couldn't remember if it was LSATS or PSATS, briefly didn't believe RASTAMAN was serious (27D: Dreaded guy?). Nothing else provided much resistance. Ominous to have LITHUANIA (26D: Eurozone member beginning n 2015) next to LAST-GASP (32D: Done in desperation), considering the current political climate, but as crossword answers, that juxtaposition is very pleasing. The end.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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