SATURDAY, Sep. 13, 2008 - Will Nediger (10-time Gold Glove winner of the 1990s and 2000s / Jazz great seen in the 1967 film "Hotel")
Friday, September 12, 2008
Relative difficulty: Medium
Today is the day I call "bull%#@!" on the puzzle. Has it ever been the case that a movie has appeared in a puzzle before its release date? I need to know. Does the fact that the movie currently exists (in the public imagination) only in PROMO form (30A: Trailer), make it fair game for a puzzle answer? I am inclined to say NO NO NO (44D: "You're doing it all wrong!"). Will did not accept my objection to this answer (or, rather, to the timing of this answer) as valid. Fine. But can this movie even be said to be a "movie"? Can you prove it? At the moment, it's an idea about a movie. [Upcoming movie...] would have been honest, and accurate. It hasn't been released. I can't say this enough. Not Released. Further, what the hell is a YEAR ZERO? It's a Nine Inch Nails album, but how is it [Beginning of time?]? Why is there a "?" in the clue? It seems that Buddhist and Hindu calendars have a YEAR ZERO, but ... then that would Literally be the [Beginning of time], or [Beginning of time, to Hindus], wouldn't it? ESTEE (40A: Girl's name that sounds like two letters of the French alphabet) crossing ESTEEM (28D: Treasure) is highly unfortunate. Lastly, as far as serious complaints go, SPLOSH? (25D: Bathtub sound) I buy SPLISH, SPLASH, and SLOSH, but SPLOSH? No. Google it. Oh, but I warn you: you do not want to click on that third result...
Lots of people in the puzzle today, including a mini-"real name" theme. How in the world was ANNE RICE born Howard Allen O'Brien???? (15A: Author born Howard Allen O'Brien.) QUEEN MUM was far easier to turn up (34D: The late Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon). I know Roberto ALOMAR very well (33A: 10-time Gold Glove winner of the 1990s and 2000s). He once spit in an ump's face, but apparently they're friends now so it's cool. Never heard of 9D: Journalist Joseph (Alsop). Seems to have been a big name in the 60s. I also did not know 42D: Italian writer Pavese (Cesare) - big deal in his home country, not so much here. I mostly like today's musical folk. AMY CAMUS upside-down returns to the puzzle today, in her full name form (usually she's just YMA, but today, the full YMA SUMAC - 13D: Singer famous for her wide vocal range). Also in unexpected full-name form is music maker IPOD NANO (56A: Little music maker). We had TWEE pop earlier in the week, and we end the week with EMO, a far more common crossword answer (45A: Genre of rock's Fall Out Boy). Fall Out Boy, it should be noted, was originally (and still is) the name of Radioactive Man's sidekick on "The Simpsons." Now it is also this band:
And if that wasn't to your liking, here's the lovely Carmen MCRAE (46A: Jazz great seen in the 1967 film "Hotel") ... with special guest!:
There's a nice prisony theme running through the puzzle, which I would not have noticed were it not for "LOOK MA" (16A: Little show-off's cry), which made me think of James Cagney's final scene in "White Heat" - "Made it, ma! Top o' the world!" [explosion!] The movie should have ended there, but they had to cut back to the G-man for his final pathetic observational musing. I think this must be the origin of the crappy pseudo-clever wise-cracking that you see on, say, "C.S.I."
Anyhoo, thinking of "White Heat" made me notice vague connections among NABS (49A: Cuffs) and CAN (42A: Cooler) and STALAG (18A: "The Great Escape" setting). Now that I think about it, there's something sort of eerie about the proximity of RED LIGHT (17A: You shouldn't go through with it), UFO (20A: Subject of some amateur videos), HUM (26A: Symptom for a car mechanic), and NASA (22A: World Wind developer), too. And about UFO ... I'm just very glad that the answer to that clue was, in fact, UFO. When I read the clue ... well, I wasn't sure where it was going (I was worried ... well, see the aforementioned third hit on the Google [SPLOSH] search, above).
Wrap it up:
- 32A: An inset might depict one (islet) - what is the difference between an ISLET and an ISLE? Besides the "T," smartass? I'm guessing the ISLET is littler; yes, very small, and usually rocky, with little vegetation.
- 52A: Balzac's "_____ Bette" ("Cousin") - a much-needed gimme in the SE for me.
- 54A: Cat calls (miaows) - only ever seen it written that way here (I love this album. Contains the gorgeous "Prettiest Eyes," among other gems):
- 58A: Loosen, as a bra (unhook) - it's a skill like any other. If you find yourself using a TIRE IRON (59A: Trunk item), you're doing it wrong.
- 1D: Peanut butter quantity (jarful) - maybe my favorite answer of the day, for reasons even I don't understand.
- 5D: Lake _____, home of the Bass Islands (Erie) - all that for ERIE?
- 6D: Cowboys' home, informally (Big D) - forget BIG D. What about BIG H? Wade? Are you there? Houston? Hello...
- 12D: Musical that won a 1944 Pulitzer ("Oklahoma") - having "musical" in the clue made this very very easy to get with just a cross or two.
- 14D: Long Island's _____ Hill National Historic Site (Sagamore) - new to me.
- 35D: Ship with a memorial in New York City's Central Park (U.S.S. Maine) - this is turning into a rather dull tour of mid-level New York tourist attractions...
- 36D: Main route? (autobahn) - I didn't get this clue. Will assured me there is somewhere in Germany called "Main," and thus the play on words is a good one.
- 52D: "The Last of the Mohicans" girl (Cora) - "I will find you!" Her?
- 53D: Wroclaw's river (Oder) - one of your lesser-seen 4-letter European rivers.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld