Classic Declaration in Gotham City/THUR 12-13-18/Acceptances from fellow brainiacs, in slang/One-named 1950's TV Sex Symbol/Some West Point grads

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Constructor: John Westwig

Relative difficulty: Medium, tending towards Hard


THEME: X Marks the Spot — A giant X in black squares on the grid substitutes for different words in the beginnings and ends of the theme answers.

Theme answers:
  • MALCOLM X
  • KISS (X) GOODBYE
  • NEW YORK TIMES (X) I see what you did there
  • CROSS (X) SECTION
Word of the Day: DAGMAR (45D: One-named 1950's TV Sex Symbol) —
Dagmar (born Virginia Ruth Egnor, November 29, 1921 – October 9, 2001) was an American actress, model, and television personality. In the 1950s, the statuesque, busty blonde became one of the first major female stars of television, receiving much press coverage.
Dagmar became one of the leading personalities of early 1950s live television, doing sketch comedy on Milton Berle's Texaco Star Theater, the Bob Hope Show, and other shows. On June 17, 1951, she appeared on the Colgate Comedy Hour with host Eddie Cantor and guests Milton Berle, Phil Foster,
and Jack Leonard. In 1951, she made a TV guest appearance with Frank Sinatra,[4] which prompted Columbia Records producer Mitch Miller to record a novelty duet with Frank and Dagmar, "Mama Will Bark". That same year, she was featured in a Life cover story with Alfred Eisenstaedt's photo of her on the July 16, 1951, issue. For the interior photo essay, Life photographers followed her to rehearsals and accompanied her on a vacation back to her home town in West Virginia.(Wikipedia)
• • •
Hello everyone out there in Rexland, I'm Dan Felsenheld, longtime reader, first time blogger, filling in for Rex while he is on assignment. No really, I volunteered for this. Now to the puzzle! First off, the grid - it's a bit weird because it has "unchecked squares", so right away when I saw it I suspected that something funky was going on. First I thought it was a rebus, especially when I got 8D and I briefly thought it might be NEW YOR(KER) but I quickly abandoned that idea. Overall I had a hard time with this one, initially put OOLONG for MATCHA, had BEHINDS for BOTTOMS, had ETHER for EMBER, and for the longest time I had MANDELA instead of MALCOLM. In fact the last M in MALCOLM was the final letter in the grid. Once I finally got the grid correct (I "finished" but had some errors which I figured out fairly quickly), I had no idea what the them was! After staring for what seemed like an eternity, it finally struck me, the X in the middle stood for different words, duh! Malcolm was the giveaway. I could have used a revealer in there somewhere though 9D was sort of a clue. I thought the fill was pretty clean, not a lot of crosswordese - sure there is our old friend NACRE at 49A, and hi Brian ENO! I raised my eyebrows a bit at SAUTE PAN, it seems a little bit, as Rex would say, GREEN PAINT-ish. 20A: ARMY MEN, this one eluded me for quite a while. When I think of ARMY MEN, I think of these guys that I played with as a kid:
Overall, I liked the concept, it was well hidden (at least from me!) and well executed, since the X stands for four different words. Well done Mr. Westwig. I don't know if this is your debut or if you are even reading this, but if it is (and you are), congrats!

Bullets:
  • NERDCRED — Love this term, and hoping that blogging for Rex increases mine!
  • JJWATT — Truly one of the coolest NFL Players out there and from all accounts a genuinely nice guy
  • I'M BATMAN — I always hear this in a Michael Keaton voice. 
  • HOMEBREW - Once made a case of my own beer at a local brewery
Here's one of my favorite bands with the theme from "Malcolm in the Middle": 



Signed, Dan Felsenheld, Viceroy of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

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Wilcox daughter in Howards End / WED 12-12-18 / Benchmark figure given how old person is / Vatican diplomat / Lyft alternative / Hit musical set in 1990s New York

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Constructor: David J. Kahn

Relative difficulty: Medium (v. easy theme to pick up, but the rest, er ...)



THEME: QUEEN's performance at LIVE-AID — some trivia related to this event

Theme answers:
  • FREDDIE / MERCURY (20A: With 58-Across, iconic frontman of 39-Across)
  • QUEEN (39A: British rock band that gave an iconic performance at 25-Down)
  • LIVEAID (25D: 1985 fund-raising event watched by 1.5+ billion people)
  • CONCERT (22A: 25-Down, notably)
  • BENEFIT (55A: 25-Down, notably)
Word of the Day: NUNCIO (10D: Vatican diplomat) —
noun
  1. (in the Roman Catholic Church) a papal ambassador to a foreign court or government. (google)
• • •

The only thing worse than Scrabble-f***ing your way to a pangram is Scrabble-f***ing your way to a pangram with the help of a f***ing NAZI.. That is the most gratuitous NAZI I have ever seen. Ever. Do you know how easy it is to make this a NAZI-free puzzle. The theme is putting Absolutely No Pressure on that part of the grid. Further, if you are the kind of person who oohs and aahs at the miracle that is a pangram, and you just have to have Every Single Letter of the alphabet in your grid because whooppee!, then guess what, it is also easy to get the "Z" into that section WITHOUT THE HELP OF A NAZI. Oh, but look ... oh, no. He didn't have to just cram the "Z" in there: he had to cram the "Z" *and* the "W" in there as well. I'm staring at this grid in disbelief. I am a real-life version of crosswordese, namely AGAZE and AGAPE. Possibly also AGOG. Is AGLARE a thing? Well then, that too. Imagine. Imagine torturing your grid so that you could Put A "W" In Your Grid. So he shoves a "Z" and a "W" into this tiny, insignificant section of the grid so that ... so that ... so that he could have his pangram (which most people won't notice), and you, you lucky solver, you could have your NAZI. Enjoy. Soak it up. Bask in the gratuitous NAZI. It's really something. If your precious pangram is so important, so important that a "Z" and a "W" both have to fit in this 3x4 section, there's this:


Or there's this


Or there's finding literally anywhere else in the grid to put the "W." Or, you know, there's just not giving a good god**** about pangrams and making the grid the best it can be, or, if nothing else, at least NAZI-free.


The theme is one of those trivia themes where you just heap trivia in there. It's not timely, as the FREDDIE / MERCURY movie came out ages ago. Why the song "Bohemian Rhapsody" is in circles at the top and bottom of the grid, I have no idea. It's a QUEEN song. But you knew that. The fill in thing this is atrocious. AGENORM (?) next to NUNCIO (!?) is DIRE indeed. LEROI on its own? APSO on its own? INICE!??! ENRY :( I was just telling my wife the other day that QUEEN's "The Game" was one of the first albums I ever owned that was *my* music, not my parents'. A really important record for me. So I'm primed to love a QUEEN-based puzzle. But I guess I'm also primed to hate a really bad one. Tell him about it, Freddie:


Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

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