Dracula heroine Harker / SAT 12-8-12 / Pentateuch peak / 1935 Cagney crime film / Experience ecdysis / Washington attraction with punny name / Big Blue member for short / German resistance leader / Institution A-Team was jailed for robbing
Saturday, December 8, 2012
Constructor: Barry C. Silk
Relative difficulty: Medium
Word of the Day: VELUM (30D: Soft palate) —
n., pl., -la (-lə).
- Biology. A covering or partition of thin membranous tissue, such as the veil of a mushroom or a membrane of the brain.
- Anatomy. The soft palate.
- Zoology. A ciliated swimming organ that develops in certain larval stages of most marine gastropod mollusks.[Latin vēlum, veil.]
Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/velum#ixzz2EQYZLuTK
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A typical (and typically enjoyable) Barry Silk offering. His puzzles are usually not quite on my wavelength, but they're close, so the feeling of solving is the feeling of chasing something that seems very catchable but keeps slipping out of my grasp. A greased pig? You like that metaphor, Barry? Now that we've established that "wavelengths" and "pigs" can be part of the same figurative universe, let's move on to puzzle specifics. I started out guns blazing and then ran into a wall (it's my mission to mix as many metaphors as possible tonight). GSHARP, ECOCAR, and ORTEGA, all easily gettable. But as far as the Downs went, only HOTHEADS gave way. [German resistance leader?] meant nothing to me, even with GEO- in place (though, to my credit, "resistance"/OHM connection did occur to me quite early ... just with no clear results). And SCRAM JET is something I'd say to a JET that I wanted to go away (2D: Boeing X-51 engine, e.g.). Never heard of it. But the O'JAYS (27A: "Use ta Be My Girl" group, with "the") and MT. SINAI (34A: Pentateuch peak) got me enough traction to finish things off there. No luck moving directly into the NE. In fact, no luck getting anywhere until I finally pieced together NY GIANT (24D: Big Blue member, for short) (I was thinking "Big Blue" = I.B.M., possibly because I live next to the town where it was founded, which itself is only an hour or so from ELMIRA (56A: Seat of New York's Chemung County)). Then it was into the SW, which was the easiest of the corners by far—ICONS and MOLT got me all the Downs, which got me all the long Acrosses, though BYSTREET took some thinking, as I've never heard anyone use that word ever (58A: Part of many a detour). SE was only somewhat more challenging. I had all kinds of WATTs before I hit on TERAWATT. No idea what the NEWSEUM is, but inferred it once I got the "W" from FEW. NE proved far easier to solve from the east than from the west. If I knew what TIELINES were, I'd've torn it up the same way I did the SW—the "T" in TIELINES was my last letter.
Two crime films today and neither clue rang a bell (16A: Oscar-nominated player of Sonny Wortzik = AL PACINO; 23A: 1935 Cagney crime film = "G-MEN"). I should probably be embarrassed, given that I teach a Crime Fiction course, but I lost my capacity for shame years ago, so no problem. I thought my ABS were crunchable, and I'm sure they are, but they aren't what was called for at 29A: They're crunchable: Abbr. (NOS.). While I would probably enjoy experiencing an ecdysiast, I think I'll pass on experiencing ecdysis. My skin is awfully pale, but I'll keep it, thanks. I've read "Dracula" exactly once, and yet MINA Harker apparently stuck like glue (49A: "Dracula" heroine Harker). Thanks, MINA. I love the insanity of the clue on HANOI (21D: Bank of ___ (institution the A-Team was jailed for robbing)). What kind of hardcore fan do you have to be to know that? Lucky for me the answer was totally inferrable from the -OI ending. I didn't know FELIX the Cat was an early TV image (35D: Cartoon character that was one of the first images transmitted on TV), but I did know his career went back to the silent movie era—he debuted in "Feline Follies" (1919). Guess I've got six years or so to work on that centennial tribute puzzle.
There's a great new article out by Ben Tausig on the economics of crossword puzzles. Published by the website The Awl. Go check it out. And allow me once more to plug the new Tausig-edited American Values Club crossword—weekly, awesome, cheap. Get it.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld