Sporty Lotus model / SAT 8-31-13 / Beast hunted by Hemingway in Green Hills of Africa / Self-titled debut album of 1991 / Kazaam star informally / Work set mostly in Cyprus / Wilde wrote De Profundis in one / Southern site of 1865 battle
Saturday, August 31, 2013
Constructor: Josh Knapp
Relative difficulty: Medium
Word of the Day: KUDU (37A: Beast hunted by Hemingway in "Green Hills of Africa") —
n. pl. kudu or ku·dus also koodoo or koo·doos
Either of two large African antelopes (Tragelaphus strepsiceros or T. imberbis) having a brownish coat with narrow, white vertical stripes and, in the male, long, spirally curved horns. (thefreedictionary.com)
KUDU, but everything else here is reasonably to very familiar. I had to wrestle with this one quite a bit, and got a little panicked toward the end there, when I was down in the SE and within four blank squares of victory and yet quite stuck ([Sporty Lotus model] for ELISE!?! People know that? Yikes). But finally saw through the toughish / vague cluing on OMEGA and AMENS and ALUM and so closed this thing out. I remain unconvinced that SAGE TEA is a thing (that answers screams 'computer word list assistance') and SHADS is bad(s), but overall I'm quite stunned by how clean this damn thing is.
Like many, probably, I wrote in CONAN O'BRIEN at first for 1A: TV host who won a Best Comedy Album Grammy (JIMMY FALLON), but "LAS Meninas" made me realize very quickly that I had the wrong host in there. I watch "Late Night" off and on, so the Fallon-related answers, IRISH and SNL, ended up being gimmes. After the NW was done, I kind of stalled out—had real trouble moving over to the NE. Got lucky in that the only three answers I had any confidence in over there (TICKS, A LA, and something TEA) made BLOCKADES pop right into view. Not much trouble in that quadrant after that. Toughest part for me was probably the lower middle. Could not, at all, see "A TOAST!" (47A: Reception opening). Also had CONCEDE for CONSIGN (44D: Hand over (to)), couldn't come up with OATS, and needed some of those long Downs at the bottom in order to come up with "ALANIS" (48D: Self-titled debut album of 1991). The easiest section was probably the SW, since I got both SHOOT 'EM UP (great answer) and ITALICIZE off their first letters.
I didn't know Marco Polo had "tales"—I think I know ROC from Sinbad "tales" (18A: Beast in a Marco Polo tale). There's some great cluing today—see esp. [His, modern-style] for YOS (bad answer redeemed by great clue), and [It opens during the fall] for PARACHUTE. Very, very nice work overall.