Soft-rock singer Vannelli — THURSDAY, Dec. 10 2009 — Rich couple on Titanic / Jughead's topper / Becoming slower in music
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Constructor: Trip Payne
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: END NOTES (68A: What some scholarly texts (and the 10-Downs to all the starred clues) have) — seven successive theme answers end with DO, RE, MI, FA, SOL, LA, and TI, respectively
Word of the Day: Gail DEVERS (2D: Three-time Olympic gold medalist Gail) — Yolanda Gail Devers (born November 19, 1966 in Seattle, Washington, USA) is a three-time Olympic 100 m champion in athletics for the US Olympic Team. Devers grew up near National City, CA and graduated from Sweetwater High School in 1984. National City, CA. Sweetwater's football and track stadium is named Gail Devers Stadium. [...] On February 2, 2007 [at age 40!], Devers edged 2004 Olympic champion Joanna Hayes to win the 60-meter hurdles event at the Millrose Games in 7.86 seconds - the best time in the world this season and just 0.12 off the record she set in 2003. // She is most easily identified by her long nails.
[Last teaching day of the semester ... do a little dance ... OK, puzzle write-up]
I didn't get what this puzzle was trying to do until I was done, but then ... Wow. I've seen the notes of the scale used every which way in crosswords before, but never in such an elaborate and elegant way. Eight theme answers (nine if you count 10D ANSWER, which had to be a happy accident ... right?), including short STACKS in the NW and SE. Didn't know LENTANDO (Lentan ... D'oh!) but I knew the LENT- part and the -ANDO was inferrable *and* gettable from crosses. All the other theme answers are solid, interesting words, and nothing in the non-theme fill feels obscure or forced. I'm really impressed with this one. Just lovely.
- 14A: *Becoming slower, in music (lentan DO)
- 17A: *First track on many a Broadway album (overtu RE) — this is the one glitch: that the "RE" in OVERTURE is not pronounced like the "RE" in the scale. (It's not, right?) I'm not sure I care that much.
- 32A: *Deli choice (pastra MI)
- 37A: *Role played by child star Carl Switzer (Alfal FA) — I would like to thank today's puzzle for making me conscious of something I've never really thought about before, to wit, I believe ALFALFA and Jughead to be biologically related somehow (8A: Jughead's topper => BEANIE)
- 41A: *Shade provider (para SOL)
- 47A: *Long smoke (panate LA) — learned it from xwords. Today may be the first time where I actually *remembered* it
- 65A: *Book reviewers, for example (litera TI) — well, that's debatable
... which brings us back to A DO! (1A: Flap). Kind of!
The puzzle felt pretty easy to me overall, though I was never quite able to break it open and speed through the grid. Never got stopped, but never picked up incredible speed, either. It was actually a pretty ideal solving sensation — winning, but having to work a little for it. ADO seemed obvious as the answer for 1A: Flap, and then DEVERS swam out of the back of my mind. Didn't trust ALOHA at first because it seemed too obvious (1D: Hawai'i _____" (island song)). Struggled a bit with the back end of LENTANDO, as I said, but then generally made good, deliberate, unbroken progress on the rest of the grid. The one hold-up was "ALLEGRO" (42D: 1947 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical). Shocking, right? I'm such a musical aficionado. I thought it was "ALL ... something!" "ALL Aboard!" "ALL For One!" Thankfully, the sweet musical stylings of GINO Vannelli (a mainstay of the pop charts when I first started listening to FM radio) came to the rescue.
- 4A: Best-selling author Tami (Hoag) — great, great, dual-purpose name this woman has (you will see her as TAMI or HOAG for years to come)
- 23A: Sheik's home (Araby) — "Araby" is a term from a kind of fiction that romanticizes the Middle East (see Joyce's story of the same name). Not a real place (well, there's this place).
- 25A: Its punch is spiked (mace) — awesome. It's a pretty fearsome weapon that I remember well from being 10 and playing D&D.
- 57A: Backer's word (aye) — I like this clue.
- 67A: Rich couple on the Titanic (Astors) — people I learned about from xwords. It's been quite a (superficial) education, when I think about it...
- 13D: Self-appointed group, for short? (eds.) — I'm hip to this trick, seen it a million times, and *still* got fooled today. The "-appointed" part is a nice touch. Hard to see "Self" as a magazine title that way.
- 15D: Setting for an annual New York film festival (Tribeca) — not sure how I know this (and know that it's Robert DeNiro's baby), but I do.
- 28D: Bandoleer contents (ammo) — "Bandoleer" is the belt for carrying bullets worn over the shoulder. Popular with Chewbacca, Pancho Villa, and cartoon apes.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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PS Please enjoy the newest Rex Parker Free Puzzle, "And They're Off..." — available here (or just scroll down to the following post...)