FRIDAY, Feb. 6, 2009 - F. J. Healy (Sci-fi hero whose home planet is Corellia / 1966 hit from the album "Sounds of Silence" / City founded by Ivan IV)
Friday, February 6, 2009
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
Word of the Day: DO-RAG - A scarf or kerchief worn as a head covering, often tied at the nape of the neck.
JANE FONDA (1A: Big name in exercise) came to me right away, and I think that is pretty much the entire story of this puzzle. With the first letters of all those Downs in place, I was able to wash down over the grid with very little bouncing around. I confess to snickering like a ten-year-old at GROIN, mainly because of the clue - 19A: It's sometimes pulled while running. I don't think that's proper running form. PLIOCENE (12D: Epoch when the landmasses of North and South America joined) is a word I've heard, I guess, here and there, maybe on science shows or museum tours where I wasn't really listening. Thankfully, the crosses were all rock solid. I had HUNTU for BANTU (30A: Zulu's group) - is a HUNTU something? Uh, well, it appears to be something in Finnish, as a bunch of pictures of this lady came up when I Googled it:
The thorniest part of the puzzle has to be the SE, where ancient clues cross and we're expected to know the name of That Guy on That Show that used to be on - KARN (46A: "Home Improvement" actor Richard). My last square was the "A" in KARN - somehow KERNAK didn't sound right, so I went with "A" and KARNAK (41D: Site in ancient Thebes). Bingo. Weird that I had any trouble down here, as ORIOLE (42D: A.L. East player) and KYOTO (46D: Former capital of Japan) were big fat gimmes. I had no idea what 49A: Modern home of ancient Ebla was all about, but SYRIA was easy to pick up from crosses.
I should wrap this up, as I am on daughter patrol this morning, and though she's ridiculously responsible and is probably just reading ("Archie" comics) quietly right now, I feel mildly guilty not being with her. So, straight to ...
- 15A: Dessert skipper's declaration ("I'm on a diet") - Please don't explain to me why you're not having dessert. I don't need to know. Oh, and all diets fail, so good luck with that.
- 18A: Sofia, por ejemplo (reina) - I gather that this Sofia was some kind of queen. Good to know. I was thinking of "Sofia" as "Wisdom" and trying to figure out what Pantheon of Qualities "Wisdom" belonged to. Graces? No. Muses? No. Deadly Sins? No ...
- 20A: 1966 hit from the album "Sounds of Silence" ("I Am A Rock") - I had an English teacher in high school (whom I adored despite (because of?) his occasional sadism) who once lectured us about how this song was wayward in its sentiments. I think we were reading the "Tempest." For a guy who knew a lot about irony, I'm surprised he took the song at face value. Or maybe he was just testing / baiting us. He was an evil genius.
- 26A: Transports near stairs (els) - elevated trains. I guess you take the stairs to get to them because they are [cough] elevated.
- 31A: Sci-fi hero whose home planet is Corellia (Hans Olo) - this gives me the opportunity to play for you a viral video that is highly amusing if you know anything about the original "Star Wars" trilogy.
Star Wars: Retold (by someone who hasn't seen it) from Joe Nicolosi on Vimeo.
- 36A: Bits of créativité (idées) - The French words IDEE and TETE are common in American xwords, and are often clued in interrelated ways, the latter as the source for the former. Also, as someone commented recently, the puzzle seems to like the word "Bean" for "Head." I know that my comments here are only tangentially related to the clue.
- 51A: Term of address used during an argument ("Your Honor") - great clue. I had much more profane stuff here at first.
- 5D: Forest issue (fawn) - I wonder if anyone went with FIRE. I enjoy Debussy's "Prelude to the Afternoon of a FAUN," which is a different character altogether, I realize. Homophone!
- 10D: It might be worn under a cap (do rag) - I know of these only insofar as they are worn (and mentioned) by rappers
- 11D: It has a lip and a mouth but never speaks (ewer) - ugh, riddles
- 13D: A call used to go out for this (ten cents) - another very clever clue, but this is the point at which I start to find my "clever clue" tolerance being tested
- 23D: City founded by Ivan IV (Orel) - an alternative to [Pitcher Hershiser]
- 28D: Where Manhattan is: Abbr. (Kans.) - that is one letter too many for any self-respecting state abbrev.
- 37D: Blockhead (schnook) - all those consonants up front really threw me at first. Kept the word hidden for a bit.
- 40D: Rally speaker's emphatic response to his own rhetorical question ("I say no!") - this should get some kind of award for creative cluing. Makes me believe this is a crossworthy answer.
- 52D: Armagnac article (une) - Thought "Armagnac" was a guy at first, like ... who's that Musketeer? D'ARTAGNAN. He's French. He probably said "UNE" a lot.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld