Jazz pianist's court appearance — MONDAY, Sep. 14 2009 — 1998 Disney film set in China / Onetime center of Italian violin manufacture / Dabbling ducks
Monday, September 14, 2009
Constructor: Bernice Gordon
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: Possessive misreadings — famous people whose last names start with "S" have their names reimagined as possessive phrases, e.g. WARREN SAPP —> WARREN'S APP (that's not a real answer, but I like it ... if you don't know who WARREN SAPP is, now you know how I feel about GEORGE SHEARING)
Word of the Day: GEORGE SHEARING (43A: Jazz pianist's court appearance?) — Sir George Shearing OBE (born August 13, 1919, Battersea, London) is an Anglo-American jazz pianist who for many years led a popular jazz group which recorded for MGM Records and Capitol Records. The composer of over 300 titles, he has had multiple albums on the Billboard charts during the 1950s, 1960s, 1980s and 1990s.
So his music career roughly coincides with the constructor's constructing career. That makes sense.
Note on the puzzle:
"HALF-CENTURY PUZZLEMAKERS' WEEK-----
All the daily crosswords this week, Monday through Saturday, are by puzzlemakers who have been contributing to The Times for more than 50 years. Bernice Gordon, 95, of Philadelphia, had her first Sunday crossword published on January 23, 1955. Her first weekday puzzle appeared three years earlier. She is the oldest known puzzlemaker in the newspaper's history."
First, congratulations to Ms. Gordon. Is it OK to congratulate someone on being the oldest ever to do something? I hope so. Second, not sure why we need another gimmick week to rival last year's Teen Week. All I can hope is that next year there will be Middle Aged Person's Week and then maybe I can sneak a puzzle in there. Third, do not expect a decidedly negative review all week. I can describe highlights and (to some extent) lowlights, but I'm not about to tear into a puzzle that may be one of the last things the constructor ever does on this earth. No way, no how. Also, there will be no more mention of its being Half Century Week. Well, I may reprint whatever "note" comes with each puzzle, but that's it. We should focus on puzzles (one of the reasons I don't like stunt weeks (so far) — they have ZERO to do with content of the puzzles).
This seemed a very solid puzzle, with GEORGE SHEARING being a mystery to me (and at least one other blogger who wrote me out of the blue last night with a message that read something like "43A!?!?!?!?!"). Wife didn't know him either. He seems both exceedingly puzzle-worthy and completely inappropriate as a Theme answer on a Monday. But no matter. Puzzle conceit made him easy to put together.
- 17A: Film director's sound (Oliver's tone) — OLIVER STONE
- 26A: Birth control advocate's fury? (Margaret's anger) — MARGARET SANGER
- 43A: Jazz pianist's court appearance? (George's hearing) — GEORGE SHEARING
- 57A: Comedian's parents? (Tom's mothers) — TOM SMOTHERS
My favorite things about these theme answers are the birth control and the lesbian moms. Awesome.
Even without the SHEARING catastrophe, this puzzle seemed skewed *slightly* harder than most Mondays. Biggest hang-ups for me were ASPISH (24D: Venomous, as a snake) — I had all the middle letters and still couldn't see it — and ORNE (54D: French department) — one of those bits of (normally) late-week crosswordese that I always forget how to spell. I think I tried ORLE (kind of like the French airport ORLY), and ORME (kind of like nothing). DIVERGES (4D: Branches off) also held me up a bit, as the only word I wanted right off the bat was DIVERTS. Finally, SURE SHOT — or rather the SHOT part of SURE SHOT — took some hacking as well (39D: It's guaranteed to hit the mark). SURE THING and SURE BET came to mind, but not SURE SHOT.
Favorite answers of the day was, by far, CREMONA (10D: Onetime center of violin manufacture). A lovely word I don't see very often in crossword grids, despite its being half vowels. Cue violin music.
No "Bullets" today, as I've pretty much covered all I wanted to cover.
Finally, apropos of nothing, here is a video that Sarah K Silverman posted to Twitter yesterday. It is a British game show that involves the arrangement of letters, so puzzle types might find it interesting. If you are morally opposed to the accidental construction of naughty words, then you DO NOT want to click through. You've been warned. (oh ... uh ... it looks like the naughtiness is in the video title and in the preview picture, so ... if you object, just hold your hand up to the screen and cover it now)
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]
P.S. best actual Google search to result in a hit to this website in the past 24 hrs: kneehole stepmother leg sex film