Thursday, December 29, 2011

1957 Cy Young Award winner / FRI 12-30-11 / Site of 1815 escape / Russain chemist with law of thermodynamics / Show for which Jim Dale won Tony 1980

Constructor: Mike Nothnagel

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: Germain Henri HESS (5D: Russian chemist with a law of thermodynamics) —
Germain Henri Hess (Russian: Герман Иванович Гесс German Ivanovich Gess, August 7, 1802–November 30, 1850) was a Swiss-born Russian chemist and doctor who formulated Hess's Law, an early principle of thermochemistry. (wikipedia)
• • •

High Point: UP THE WAZOO
Low Point: HAIL TO
Crucial gimmes: SMOOT, SPAHN

Really liked this one—played tough at first but then opened up beautifully. I like having to struggle for results that do not then make me resent the struggle. Beginning was rough, with nothing going in in the NW until I just took a flyer on SPAHN (25D: 1957 Cy Young Award winner) and the crosses Worked (hurrah!). I guessed HOSTAS (38A: Landscaping plants) off the (at that point imagined) "H." I repeat, *I* guessed HOSTAS. Me. My knowledge of flora is ... I would say "lacking," but that's hardly strong enough. Crosswords taught me that HOSTAS was a word at all, and now today, bam, I just throw it down and off I go. Didn't go off so fast on HESS, though. Still science deficient. Needed Every Single Cross (HESS is a gas / toy truck company to me). I tanked at least one other sciencey clue ... oh yeah, I went with PETROchemical over NEUROchemical. Seemed reasonable. Just watched some awesome animated versions of PLATO's "Allegory of the Cave," and yet still needed virtually every cross to get the answer to 32D: Academy head. Had PLAT- and thought "how is a PLATE an 'academy head'?" Because of the PETRO error I had 45A: Most chic as TOPIEST (which I believe is the correct answer to [Most like a 33-Downed person]). Was annoyed at myself for not coming up with the director of "Good Will Hunting," until I realized I had No Idea Gus VAN SANT directed that. The only names I associate with that movie are Matt Damon and that other guy ... played O'Bannion in "Dazed and Confused" ... come on, what's his name? Affleck! Ha. Brain only partially decayed. Just like two of my teeth, it turns out. Stupid dental X-rays and their diagnostic abilities! I've got an appointment with Dr. Novocaine next Thursday ...

  • 17A: What you might reach for after hearing "Don't go anywhere!" (RADIO DIAL) — I don't really get this. Why are people so defiant of the admonition?
  • 16A: Holder of legends (ATLAS) — first two answers that leapt to mind : ARK, ERIC.
  • 33A: Show for which Jim Dale won the 1980 Tony for Best Actor in a Musical ("BARNUM") — this clue couldn't have been more meaningless to me if it tried. Jim Dale? Yeah, I'm gonna need a *little* more information than that.

  • 41A: Shout with cupped hands, maybe (BOO) — Not computing. Are you shouting it across an open field?
  • 48A: Drug sold under the brand name Retrovir (AZT) — Did not know this, but I had the "Z," so no sweat. I'm guessing "Retrovir" refers to retrovirus and not, as I originally thought, a Roman who wears bell bottoms.
  • 51A: Site of an 1815 escape (ELBA) — I had ERIE. That's a big miss.
  • 15D: How Simon Cowell often critiques (CRUELLY) — "The X-Factor" (or the first and only episode I watched, at any rate) was dull and terrible. And "American Idol" has gotten soft and keeps generating irrelevant winners. So I'm out of the reality singing competition game, I'm afraid. More time for watching and rewatching "Downton Abbey."
  • 10D: ___-X (septic treatment brand) (RID) — kind of a cruel way to clue a perfectly ordinary word, but somehow I managed to pull this answer out of my X.
  • 52D: Humorist who wrote "Progress might have been all rigiht once, but it has gone on too long" (NASH) — As in Ogden. I had SAHL. As in Mort. Humorist, four letters—SAUL is the knee-jerk reaction.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

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