Monday, September 5, 2011

Nixon aide Maurice / TUE 9-6-11 / Frilly neckwear / Ticket usable on more than one trip / Suffix with brigand / Cleveland Orchestra conductor George

Constructor: Susan Gelfand

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (*for a Tuesday*)

THEME: DOUBLE TIME (59A: Fast marching pace ... or a hint to 16- and 39- Across and 10- and 24-Down) — two-word phrases where each word can follow "TIME" in a familiar phrase:
  • TRAVEL CARD (16A: Ticket usable on more than one trip)
  • ZONE OUT (39A: Become oblivious to one's surroundings)
  • TRIAL PERIOD (10D: Interval in which something is tested)
  • SLOT MACHINE (24D: Las Vegas staple)

Word of the Day: Brigandine (45A: Suffix with brigand) —

A brigandine is a form of body armour from the Middle Ages. It is a cloth garment, generally canvas or leather, lined with small oblong steel plates riveted to the fabric. // The form of the brigandine is essentially the same as the civilian doublet, though it is commonly sleeveless. However, depictions of brigandine armour with sleeves are known. Many brigandines appear to have had larger, somewhat 'L-shaped' plates over the lungs. The rivets, or nails, attaching the plates to the fabric are often decorated, being gilt or of latten and often embossed with a design. // Modern flak jackets and ballistic vests are based on the same principle: a protective cloth vest containing metal plates. (wikipedia)

• • •

Not my favorite kind of puzzle, but pretty solid for what it is. With these "both words can precede / follow"-type puzzles, theme is utterly invisible and theme answers seem random until the reveal (in fact, usually I don't figure the theme out until after the grid is completed ... and figuring it out usually just provokes a shrug, at most). I got slowed down quite a bit on this one because there were so many things I just didn't know. Never heard of a "brigandine," for instance, or a TRAVEL CARD. JABOT has clearly crossed my path before, but if you'd asked me to define JABOT before I did this puzzle, I would not have been able to do it (22D: Frilly neckwear). Or, rather, I might have done it, but my definition would've been a fanciful guess. Maybe some kind of cheese or shoe. Throw in the fact that I re-re-reforgot who the hell this stupidly-named STANS guy is (25D: Nixon aide Maurice), and the fact that I thought the General in 34D: General ___, former maker of Jell-O and Sanka (FOODS) was a guy, and you can see why this didn't play as a typical Tuesday for me. Theme didn't thrill me and clues were out of my wheelhouse, but the puzzle's not defective. It's just fine.

  • 20A: When repeated, cry to a vampire ("DIE!") — a recycled clue that I wish would respond to its own cry.
  • 50A: Like maps, iguanas and rock walls (SCALED) — also, like some brigandines.
  • 8D: Raring to go (ARDENT)EAGER I buy as an answer to this clue. ARDENT, not so much.
  • 56D: "The Godfather" author (PUZO) — coincidentally, I started (re-)watching "Superman" (1978) today on Netflix. Amazing space-agey opening credits, during which I was mildly taken aback to find Mario PUZO's name zooming up at me in blue laser lights; I'd forgotten he (co-)wrote the script.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

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