Greek poet who wrote distaff / WED 4-5-17 / 1987-94 Star Trek series briefly / Crypto City at Ft Meade / Devices that prevent fumes from escaping / Pothook shape / Drink made from frozen grapes
Wednesday, April 5, 2017
Constructor: Alex Eaton-Salners
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: SPANISH (43D: Language that utilizes the letter "ñ") — DESCRIPTION
- MAÑANA / PIÑATAS
- PEÑA NIETO / BAÑOS
- PIÑA COLADAS / AÑO
- JALAPEÑOS / SEÑOR
- EL NIÑO / ESPAÑOL
Erinna (//; Greek: Ἤριννα) was an ancient Greek poet. Biographical details about her life are uncertain: she is generally thought to have lived in the first half of the fourth century BC, though some ancient traditions have her as a contemporary of Sappho; Telos is generally considered to be her most likely birthplace, but Tenos, Teos, Rhodes, and Lesbos are all also mentioned by ancient sources as her home. Erinna is best known for her long poem, the Distaff, a three-hundred line hexameter lament for her childhood friend Baucis, who had died shortly after marriage. A large fragment of this poem was discovered in 1928 at Behnasa in Egypt. Along with the Distaff, three epigrams ascribed to Erinna are known, preserved in the Greek Anthology. (wikipedia)
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AÑO are *totally* different words, but the NYT crossword happily crosses "N" with "Ñ" like there is no difference, which means that Spanish anuses have been overrunning our puzzles for decades now. So today we have true "Ñ"s in the grid, working in both directions, five times. So first of all, it turns out this is pretty boring. PEÑA NIETO (18A: Mexican president Enrique) is the only interesting themer here (and the only one I totally blanked on). The rest are, like, you know, words. The fill suffers terribly, because (who'dathunk?!) that when you cram *crossing* themers into your corners, those corners don't like it so much. I knew things were gonna be rough at INANET (frowny-face). I did not know, however, that they would get so bad that I would miss INANET. The SE corner is the poster child for Bad Decisions. It's hard enough to fill a corner like that with two themers in there. But three? Three gets you ERINNA (!?!?!??!?!?!) and ERINNA should make *any* constructor worth their salt smash their grid with a sledgehammer and start over. The only one happy with ERINNA (again, I say, !?!?!?!?!?!?!??!) is poor little INAT, who's like "Yay! No one's looking at me!" This concept is much better when you spread the diacritical love around (so, a Ñ cross, a Ø cross, a É cross, etc.—I've seen it done that way, I'm pretty sure). So, to sum up: NONONO.
I knew BASSOS was BASSOS from the "B" but my wife didn't know that you pluralized it that way and went with BASSES and since the vowel cross there is Dikembe MUTOMBO (and since '90s big men are not exactly her specialty), she had BASSES / MUTOMBE. Seems a plausible mistake. I had trouble with MUTOMBO's *second* vowel. Other than that, I had no trouble, except when it came to remembering PEÑA NIETO's name. I still think of Vincente Fox as the president even though that hasn't been true for 11 (?!) years. Finished in a fast time, which means it was Really easy, since the 16-wide grid should've made even an average-difficulty puzzle run long.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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