Wednesday, September 21, 2011

English author Edward Bulwer- / THU 9-22-11 / Songwriter Jimmy Senator Jim / Ritual in which bitter herbs are dipped / Cuban name 2000 news

Constructor: Jeff Dubner
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: D [?] LY! — five theme answers all start with D [?] LY (by sound), where [?] is a different vowel sound (vowels progress from A to U consecutively)

Word of the Day: Edward Bulwer-LYTTON (41D: English author Edward Bulwer-___) —
Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton PC (25 May 1803 – 18 January 1873), was an English politician, poet, playwright, and prolific novelist. He was immensely popular with the reading public and wrote a stream of bestselling novels which earned him a considerable fortune. He coined the phrases "the great unwashed", "pursuit of the almighty dollar", "the pen is mightier than the sword", and the famous opening line "It was a dark and stormy night (wikipedia)
• • •

This was a very easy Friday puzzle to me, as I never saw the theme until I was done, and with stacks of long Acrosses in the NW and SE corners, the grid looks/feels more themeless than themed. So it's a Tuesday-type theme that played like a Wednesday but looked and felt like a Friday. And yet today is Thursday. No matter—I still had a good time. I think BEN STEIN'S is an unholy abomination of an answer (it's an enormous partial trying to pretend that it isn't) (12D: Win whose money, in a bygone game show?), but everything else seems pretty solid, and the theme answers are bouncy (!) and original-seeming. I thought the theme would have something to do with fisherman, since there were those symmetrical answers about a [Fisherman's relation?]. But that never panned out, and I finished the puzzle ... puzzled. Most befuddling part of the puzzle was the last letter I put in—the "A" in RAUCH (who?) (46D: Jon ___, at 6'11" the tallest player in Major League Baseball history) and ATL, which I did not understand At All. "Atlanta is between two Plymouths? What?" I see ATL for Atlanta all the time; for "Atlantic," not so much. About as much as I see PAC for "Pacific" (outside of the term "PAC-12 Conference," that is).  As for RAUCH, my first thought was ISNER, since I saw "tall" and "player" and I remember thinking he had a good name for crosswords. But he's a tennis player, and spells his name "John." My proudest moment of the solve was dropping in both LLD (41A: Barrister's deg.) and LYTTON. I'm no Anglophile, so the ease with which these answers came to me surprised even myself.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: London newspaper (DAILY MAIL)
  • 23A: Turkey's location (DELI COUNTER)
  • 33A: Taking one's sweet time (DILLY-DALLYING) — a great center answer
  • 44A: Singer with the hit country album "Backwoods Barbie" (DOLLY PARTON)
  • 54A: "Gotcha," formally ("DULY NOTED") — confusing, as "Gotcha" can mean several things.  
I thought I had a cold on Monday, and then Tuesday I felt so good I thought I was mistaken, but today, whoa boy. My body feels fine, but my head is a wreck, so I have to keep this brief so I can get some rest.

  • 1A: Vitamin C source from Southeast Asia (STARFRUIT) — I see these at the supermarket sometimes, but I've never tried them. This answer was not easy for me to pick up.
  • 10A: Songwriter Jimmy and Senator Jim (WEBBS) — Jimmy Webb wrote "Wichita Lineman" and a lot of other popular songs of the later 20th century. 

  • 15A: It has just 16 rules of grammar (ESPERANTO) — I love this answer, especially followed closely by ALEUT (16A: Western language historically written in the Cyrillic alphabet)—that's a hell of a language duo.
  • 29A: ___ Street, main thoroughfare in "Peyton Place" (ELM) — People know that? Yikes. 
  • 1D: Ritual in which bitter herbs are dipped (SEDER)ERNS was the first word I put in the grid. SEDER was the second.
  • 11D: Cuban name in 2000 news (ELIAN) — I wonder about ELIAN. Mainly what I wonder is: how long will he be crossworthy? Forever? His name is soooo lovely from a crossword standpoint, but that incident doesn't seem like something with long-term historical implications. But if it's easy for me to recall (it is), then maybe we'll still be seeing it 20 years from now, though I think future young people are going to be a little annoyed that they're being asked to remember something so trivial.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

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