Principal port of Syria / SAT 4-19-14 / Mezzo-soprano Regina / Big Chicago-based franchiser / Either of two holy emperors
Saturday, April 19, 2014
Constructor: Stu Ockman
Relative difficulty: Easy
Word of the Day: HAME (51A: Part of a plowing harness) —
n.One of the two curved wooden or metal pieces of a harness that fits around the neck of a draft animal and to which the traces are attached.
[Middle English, from Middle Dutch; see tkei- in Indo-European roots.] (thefreedictionary.com)
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THE GOBLET OF FIRE, holds any real interest, and even that one is at least technically inaccurate, since ever installment of both the book and movie "series" begins "Harry Potter and …" But since it's the only thing I really enjoyed today, I'll let that slide. There is pretty heavy reliance on unusual / obscure words / names. RESNIK is new to me (last letter in the grid was that "S") (46D: Mezzo-soprano Regina). What the hell is a HAME?!?! (51A: Part of a plowing harness) Yeesh. Greta SCACCHI I managed to dredge up from somewhere, but lord knows where (35D: Greta of "The Red Violin") (What is "The Red Violin"? Nevermind; I'll google it) . Then there's the truly terrible crossing of LATAKIA and KENAI (26A: Alaska's ___ Fjords National Park). I just guessed. Must've seen KENAI somewhere before, 'cause I guessed right, but I know I've never seen or heard of LATAKIA. Once Again, cluing here involves all the creativity of reading the first line of a wikipedia entry (very first words of that entry: "Latakia […] is the principal port city of Syria […]"). And of course it's misleading, as "principal" makes you think "I should've heard of this," while in reality, LATAKIA is just Syria's 5th largest city, behind Aleppo, Damascus, Homs and Hama (only three of which you've heard of, and only two of which you'd heard of before the atrocities started there). As for KENAI (26A: Alaska's ___ Fjords National Park) … I think my reasoning was "DENALI ends in 'I', so try that." because otherwise I honestly don't know.
Finished in under 8, and that's *with* taking a break to see if I guessed LATAKIA correctly. Also, I would've been faster if I'd been able to recall MIA SARA's name (40D: Actress in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off")—that should've been a gimme; I know damn well who she is. That movie is a Gen-X sweet spot, and I'm ashamed to have failed to ace this clue. I blame, in part, MIA HAMM. Also couldn't call up SNCC (35A: March on Washington grp.)—hmmm, I think I was confusing it with something else, something with "Christian" and "Southern" in the name, because I don't recall ever hearing of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (despite having written SNCC into grids before). Aha! Southern Christian Leadership Conference. That's what I was thinking of. Phew. I feel mildly better now.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld