Western writer Wister — TUESDAY, Nov. 10 2009 — Aussie outlaw Kelly / Funny Mort / Flip side of Beatles If I Fell /
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Constructor: Alan Arbesfeld
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: WOODY ALLEN (61A: WIth 63-Across, name associated with the starts of 17-, 23-, 36-, 45- and 57-Across) => starts of those answers = "TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN"
Word of the Day: NED Kelly (22A: Aussie outlaw _____ Kelly) — Edward "Ned" Kelly (June 1854/June 1855 – 11 November 1880) was an Australian bushranger, and, to some, a folk hero for his defiance of the colonial authorities. Kelly was born in Victoria to an Irish convict father, and as a young man he clashed with the police. Following an incident at his home in 1878, police parties searched for him in the bush. After he murdered three policemen, the colony proclaimed Kelly and his gang wanted outlaws. A final violent confrontation with police took place at Glenrowan. Kelly, dressed in home-made plate metal armour and helmet, was captured and sent to jail. He was hanged for murder at Old Melbourne Gaol in 1880. His daring and notoriety made him an iconic figure in Australian history, folk lore, literature, art and film. (wikipedia)
Seems like I should have loved this, with all its crime fictiony elements, but I didn't. The whole "SOPRANOS" angle was more annoying than interesting. There are so many "SOPRANOS" answers (three) that I thought that was the theme. But it wasn't. Only it kind of was, in an oblique way, because "TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN" is crime fiction (albeit of the slapstick variety) and so is "THE SOPRANOS" ... and MONEY LAUNDERING is a crime ... you could even make the case for TAKE PLACE and RUN SCARED (e.g. "Fear that a serious crime was about to TAKE PLACE made him RUN SCARED"). But ... then there's "AND I LOVE HER," which is about as uncrimefictiony as you can get. I mean, you could use the phrase "AND I LOVE HER" in a crime fiction story, but the song ... no way. It's about as unhardboiled as it gets. Creating a title out of the first words of theme phrases is an old trick. This puzzle seems to have attempted to dress the grid up with bonus LURID criminess, but final result is a general messiness and unclear sense of purpose.
- 17A: Happen (TAKE place)
- 23A: First cable series to win an Emmy for Outstanding Drama ("THE Sopranos")
- 36A: Process involving illegal drug profits, say (MONEY laundering)
- 45A: Flip side of the Beatles' "If I Fell" ("AND I Love Her")
- 57A: Retreat in fear (RUN scared)
The puzzle has a slightly more open feel than most Tuesdays have, with the stacked nines in the NW and SE and long Downs in the NE and SW keeping things from getting cramped the way they are toward the puzzle's ceneter. RIDE SHARE is an interesting phrase (60A: Carpool, say), and not one I've seen in the puzzle before (despite all its common letters), and WOMEN'S LIB (11D: 1960s movement rejecting traditional gender roles) has a lively (if dated) feel (re-reading Richard Stark's "The Hunter" (1962) and watching "Mad Men" (set in 1960) right now — phrase "WOMEN'S LIBeration" didn't begin to enter common parlance 'til 1964). As for screw-ups, I had ORATE instead of OPINE (25D: Speak one's piece). I would like to OPINE that I'LL DRY and QAS are terrrrrible. Still, there's plenty that's endearing about this puzzle. Bites off more than it can chew, theme / sub-theme-wise, but still manages to be reasonably entertaining. Better an ambitious, loopy mess than a snooze-fest.
- 19A: Wester writer Wister (Owen) — wrote the very popular "The Virginian" in the early 20th century. Tried to read it once. Failed. Maybe I'll try again some day.
- 43A: Original N.Y.C. subway line (IRT) — provincial crosswordese; I've grown to like that the puzzle has a certain conservative New York-centrism about it. It's kind of charming.
- 52A: _____ May Clampett of "The Beverly Hillbillies" (Elly) — Not how I would have spelled her name ("Ellie"). I think I even made this EDDY (!?) before I settled on ELLY.
- 6D: Potions professor at Hogwarts (Snape) — just added him to the list of "New Crosswordese for the 21st Century" (a hand-written list tacked next to my desk). There are two "SOPRANOS"-related names on that list (actors Robert ILER and EDIE Falco)
- 7D: Ad agcy. clients (accts.) — I'm up to the part in "Mad Men" where the latest client is Israel. Lots of talk about crossword stalwart "Exodus" by LEON URIS, with its central character of ARI (played by Paul Newman on film).
- 27D: Domesticated insects (bees) — Threw me. I was imagining someone taking their BEES for a walk, or petting their BEES, or sitting on the couch watching "Mad Men" with their BEES, etc.
- 54D: Funny Mort (Sahl) — man he is Everywhere. You'd think poor Roald DAHL would get more action.
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P.S. I turn 40 this month, but I'm not the only one. Please enjoy this special 40th Birthday Puzzle, courtesy of Eric Berlin (just click "Print" — AcrossLite version will be available later in the day)
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