Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: Confucian aphorism — REAL KNOWLEDGE IS / TO KNOW THE EXTENT / OF ONE'S IGNORANCE
Word of the Day: Howell RAINES (42A: Journalist Howell) —
Howell Hiram Raines (born February 5, 1943 in Birmingham, Alabama) was Executive Editor of The New York Times from 2001 until he left in 2003 in the wake of the Jayson Blair scandal. He is the father of Jeff Raines, one of the founding members of the rock band Galactic. He is currently a contributing editor for Condé Nast Portfolio, writing the magazine's media column. (wikipedia)
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This is my Thursday? An incredibly banal quotation? No thanks.
The grid is weird. I do like those looooong Downs (a lot), but the rest, not so much. TACHOIALITHEAIS! Is that corner for real? For real? And was ALET really unavoidable? That section does not look that hard to fill.
Honestly, this is just a dull quotation puzzle with an inexpertly filled grid. While I'm teaching, if Thursday puzzles aren't damn good, I can't spend a lot of time with them. I just can't.
Also: Journalist Howell? Really? Somewhere eventual Hall-of-Famer Tim RAINES is weeping for your silly New York provincialism.
Also: [More] = OTHER = painful.
[I'm hearing from sources (literally, just this second, via email) that this is a debut, so I feel slightly bad, but my feelings are my feelings. If nothing else, this never should've run on a Thursday]
- 14A: Oscar Wilde poem "By the ___" (ARNO) — nuts. The problem with making your clues for short fill really obscure is that there's no payoff. Just a "... huh. OK." At best.
- 15A: Ingredient in traditional medicine (ALOE) — I have no idea how "traditional" is being used in this clue. My doctor has never prescribed ALOE.
- 20A: Man's name that's Latin for "honey" (MEL) — again, nuts. French helped me here.
- 35A: TV network that broadcast live from Opryland USA (TNN) — the one area that gave me trouble, first because of [More] / OTHER, and then because I'd transcribed the quotation wrong and put a "T" where the "H" was supposed to go (had [More] = OFTER for a bit).
- 5D: Not being such a daredevil, say (SANER) — boooooooooo. SAFER is so much more appropriate here. Not clever, just annoying for its trying-too-hardness.
- 54A: Together, in Toulon (UNIE) — French helped me here, too, though less so. "États-Unis" led me to the wrong spelling here.
- 10D: "La ___ du jeu" (1939 Renoir film) (RÈGLE) — French helped me here, too. This is pretty tough, as French words in U.S. puzzles go. I knew most of the other proper nouns, like ED ASNER (19D: "Elf" co-star, 2003) and IRENE (26D: Memorable 2011 hurricane) and even TONIO (learned from crosswords) (33D: "Pagliacci" clown). Would've guessed Miss Piggy's poodle was Fifi, but it's not such a long way from there to FOO Foo, I guess. The only Lap... oh, it's not "Lapierre," it's "Laperriere" (!?!?!?! who????). I was going to say "the only 'Lapierre' I know is Wayne."
P.S. Happy birthday, dad.