Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
Word of the Day: JACQUARD LOOM (54A: Maker of fabrics with intricate designs) —
The Jacquard loom is a mechanical loom, invented by Joseph Marie Jacquard in 1801, that simplifies the process of manufacturing textiles with complex patterns such as brocade, damask and matelasse. The loom is controlled by punched cards with punched holes, each row of which corresponds to one row of the design. Multiple rows of holes are punched on each card and the many cards that compose the design of the textile are strung together in order. It is based on earlier inventions by the Frenchmen Basile Bouchon (1725), Jean Baptiste Falcon (1728) and Jacques Vaucanson (1740) (wikipedia)
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Never heard of either of the long Acrosses, so ... yeah. Not much joy there. Fighting for every letter of an answer that ultimately means nothing to you—not the most pleasant experience. POLITICAL DNA (18A: Party makeup?) I've probably heard somewhere, once or twice, but it seems pretty weak, as in-the-language colloquial phrases go. My first page of google hits for the phrase gives me a Facebook page with that title and two different stories about Nancy Pelosi's daughter. Shrug. Rest of the grid was pretty nice, with lots of late-week trickiness in the clues. But looms just don't excite me, and there's not much else to get very excited about. It's a very serviceable, solid puzzle, for the most part. A good 10-minute workout for me today. That's about 2-3 minutes over my average, and all of that time was spent a. figuring out those two mystery Acrosses, and b. remembering how to spell DE RIGUEUR (6D: Proper). Man, that "UEU" combo just eluded me. I kept forgetting the first "U" and thinking "Why Won't It Fit?"
I just put HELOT in a puzzle I constructed. I wasn't proud, but I did it anyway. It's a solid, if somewhat arcane, word. It'll do. Beats ALEGAR, that's for sure (I remember learning that word years ago, from crosswords, of course; never seen it since, til now) (16A: Onetime pickling liquid). Had a back-and-forth about "Throw Momma From the Train" with some friends recently (I have a "Screening 1987" Facebook group that is watching one 1987 movie a week, all year long— "Throw Momma" is on the schedule). Momma's saying "OWEN" was one of the things I remembered best about that movie. I apparently have no idea what it means to be named a "Dr. of the Church." Which Church? Catholic? I have "Dr. Donne" in my head (a metaphorical rather than literal title, probably), so I was thinking Anglican Church, which of course made the whole "Only Englishman" thing completely bizarred. "But ... it's the Anglican Church ... so ... what?" (29A: Only Englishman named a Dr. of the Church = ST. BEDE). The phrase "'Footloose' hero" made me laugh, so even though that's a crazy clue for REN, I approve (12D: "Footloose" hero McCormack).
- 32A: Tony's "Taras Bulba" co-star, 1962 (YUL) — "Taras Bulba" may as well be a JACQUARD LOOM for all I know about it (saw it used in a puzzle once as a clue for "TARAS," I think). No idea who "Tony" is here (it's Curtis).
- 59A: Running quarterly, for short? (COIN-OP) — yeah, that's a good "?" clue.
- 10D: Longtime Dodgers coach Manny (MOTA) — 32 consecutive years as a Dodgers coach. Keep in mind, that's not the same as *the* coach, i.e. the manager. Still, impressive.
- 13D: Ending for AriZona flavors (-ADE) — they make sugary drinks and "teas" and what not. -ADE was an educated guess.
- 51D: Like the Navajo language (TONAL) — I thought 63A: Reacted to a punch was WEAVED, so I had this answer ending in "V." Not a lot of options. YAKOV? PART V?