1954 Audie Murphy western / SAT 7-13-13 / Of pions kions / First city bombed in WW II's Baedeker Blitz / Obama descriptor / Midori on ice / Frozen treat with Alexander Grape as one of its flavors / Tito's successor as head of Non-Aligned Movement
Saturday, July 13, 2013
Constructor: Byron Walden
Relative difficulty: Medium
Word of the Day: MESONIC (3D: Of pions and kions) —
adj. of or relating to MESON
Any of a family of subatomic particles that participate in strong interactions, are composed of a quark and an antiquark, and have masses generally intermediate between leptons and baryons.
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NO DRAMA (13D: Obama descriptor), PRII (45A: Automotive plural selected in a 2011 promotion), DER BINGLE (!!?) (11D: "White Christmas" singer, informally). There is some clunkiness here and there—PUNTED ON (16A: Opted to duck) is a fresh phrase, but for some reason I'm finding it slightly ungainly, especially crossing KNEEL AT (14D: Show reverence to, in a way). Clearly I'm having issues with appended prepositions (see also EXERT ON). But the bulk of this grid is clean and lively, and the cluing was tough but interesting and fair. Enjoyable.
AT TWO and AT. NO. At first I had TWO AM, but [W's is 74] pretty much screamed AT. NO, even though I have no idea what "W" is (it's tungsten). So I went with AT TWO and then considered running GEEK alongside it, but noticed NERD just meshed better with the adjacent letters (5D: Pi Day celebrant, perhaps). That gave me DESTRY (I think I have a copy of "Destry Rides Again" somewhere...) (17A: 1954 Audie Murphy western) and DRY SEASON (6D: Late October to March, in West Africa) and I was on my way. Had ULSTER for EXETER at first (15A: First city bombed in W.W. II's Baedeker Blitz). That's as hairy as things got in the NW. Had to guess at the REMAND / MESONIC crossing (1A: Back order? / 3D: Of pions and kions), but nothing else made sense. Struggled a bit in the NE as I worked out that "Main" meant "the sea" at 7A: Main means of defense? (SQUID INK) and that LIMOSINE was not a correct spelling (18A: Prom amenity => LIMO RIDE). SW must've been pretty easy 'cause I don't remember doing it. Couldn't decide how to spell LUCRE (44A: Dark green?). Was correct, then decided that FIRES were the things that "may be stoked," so changed LUCRE to LUCER, which, as I look at it now, is ridiculous.
SE was also easy, as the two plural Downs (with their terminal "S"s) made NASSER easy to get (55A: Tito's successor as head of the Non-Aligned Movement). Also PRII was a major gimme. Cluing was pretty strong overall, but I especially enjoyed [It often comes with a "Thank You"] (RECEIPT) and [A heavy metal band may have it] (ORE) and [Pounded side] (POI)—I knew "side" would mean "side dish," but it took me a while to figure out that it was the corm of the taro root that was being pounded. I'm slightly surprised we don't see POI more often. . . but apparently we see it reasonably often, because cruciverb tells me it's the second most popular of all -OI options, just barely behind ROI and well ahead of third-place MOI. So what I'm really surprised by is the fact that I have failed to notice how common POI really is. Until now. I believe I have now provided you all with the single most useless piece of trivia of all time: what is the second most common crossword answer following the pattern -OI? Stump your friends!