SUNDAY, Dec. 20 2009 — Title fellow in 1922 Broadway hit / 1962 film set partly on Crab Key / Old French coronation city / Money in Malmo
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Constructor: Alan Arbesfeld
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: "INSIDE DOPE" — "INFO" (a synonym of "DOPE") appears inside 8 theme answers, stretched across two-word phrases
Word of the Day: RENEE Vivien (93A: ___ Vivien, British poet known as the Muse of the Violets) —
Renée Vivien, born Pauline Mary Tarn (11 June 1877 - 18 November 1909) was a British poet who wrote in the French language. She took to heart all the mannerisms of Symbolism, as one of the last poets to claim allegiance to the school. Her compositions include sonnets, hendecasyllabic verse, and prose poetry. [...] In Paris, Vivien's dress and lifestyle were as notorious among the bohemian set as was her verse. She lived lavishly, as an open lesbian, and carried on a well-known affair with American heiress and writer Natalie Clifford Barney. She also harbored a lifelong obsession with her closest childhood friend and neighbor, Violet Shillito – a relationship that remained unconsummated. In 1900 Vivien abandoned this chaste love, when the great romance with Natalie Barney ensued. The following year Shillito died of typhoid fever, a tragedy from which Vivien, guilt-ridden, would never fully recover. (wikipedia)
Not much to say about this one. Pretty straightforward theme. The INFO phrases are all reasonably interesting. I (weirdly) like REGAIN FOOTING the best. Strikes me as the most lively phrase of them all, though TOPSPIN FOREHAND has its charms. I don't like MCCAIN FOLLOWERS much — seems the least solid of the bunch, and the clue, [Republicans in 2008], is not exactly accurate. The party, yes, technically, followed him. Many Republicans did not. Otherwise ... there were several names I didn't know, but all in all, a pretty run-of-the-mill Sunday. Nothing to shout about, and ... well, nothing to shout about.
- 23A: It has a large canopy (ra INFO rest)
- 25A: Average Joes (pla INFO lks)
- 35A: Republicans in 2008 (McCa INFO llowers)
- 55A: Busboy's assignment (napk INFO lding)
- 78A: Stop a trip? (rega INFO oting)
- 96A: Rafael Nadal specialty (topsp INFO rehand)
- 112A: Expect, everything considered (barga INFO r)
- 114A: Unite (jo INFO rces)
I knew ABIE and ALBA, but there were names I did not know. Several. I mentioned RENEE Vivien. There was also William SHAWN (41A: William ___, longtime editor of The New Yorker) — I'm sure it's heresy among some of you people not to know him, but ... nope. Doesn't register. More embarrassing is not knowing 120A: Director Vittorio De ___ (Sica). He directed "The Bicycle Thief," and for that alone I should really know his name. Less embarrassing = not knowing a MERLE who isn't Haggard and a TRAVIS who isn't TRITT or RANDY. MERLE TRAVIS (122A: Country singer Travis)? That's the countryest name I ever heard. He's way older than any of the country stars I just named. Check him out:
- 16D: "Oh, you're back" ("Hello again") — did someone say ... Neil Diamond? Yeah, someone did. That guy in the back. What? You didn't. Well, too bad, I'm playing this anyway.
- 59A: Lincoln trademark (stovepipe) — not sure I've ever seen this word without "HAT" attached.
- 84A: Big name in kitchen utensils (Oxo) — much better than [Tic tac toe FAIL]
- 89A: Attack, bear-style (claw at) — ... I think that if a bear is genuinely attacking you, then he's not clawing AT you; he's pretty much just CLAWING you.
- 117A: Army of the Potomac commander during the Civil War (Meade) — His name is Useful, with that 60% vowel content. Learned his name from crosswords.
- 1D: Target of salicylic acid (wart) — only slightly less repugnant than TOEJAM.
- 49D: Meteor trailer? (-oid) — ugh. I had -ITE at first. Hated this answer. I mean ... not as much as I hated YESED (77D: Was sycophantic to), but hated it nonetheless.
- 54D: 20-ounce coffee size (Venti) — other places besides Starbucks?
- 58D: 1962 film set partly on Crab Key ("Dr. No") — another crossword standard. Never seen it.
- 65D: "A woman's ___ often opens the door to love": Henry Ward Beecher ("pity") — about the most horrid quote I've seen in an NYT puzzle clue. Gag. Straight out of the earliest English sonnets, and off-putting as ever.
- 70D: Reagan White House dog (Rex) — I had no idea. And I remember the Reagan years. This may be the only actual dog I know what the somehow stereotypical dog name of REX.
- 74D: Nash and others (Ogdens) — so many OGDENS, who can keep them straight?
- 75D: Money in Malmö (Krona) — last letter always a mystery. I had "E" for some reason.
- 80D: Scruggs's partner in bluegrass (Flatt) — familiar to me from growing up with a father who loved bluegrass (and could play a little banjo himself).
- 102D: Old French coronation city (Reims) — see, what's weird here is ... I knew this. I don't know how. There's no reason for me to know it. But there it was.
- 110D: House speaker between Tom and Dennis (Newt) — what's the opposite of an "AHA" moment? Something to explain how you feel when the sudden revelation of an answer causes not excitement but mild horror and slight recoiling?
- 33A: Christmas sounds (hos) — just heard this song for the first time a couple of days ago on "All Songs Considered" (which I love — major crush on Carrie Brownstein!). Enjoy! (there's an intro that ... I can't vouch for. Just be patient):
And now, your Tweets of the Week — puzzle chatter from the Twitterverse:
- tgabrukiewicz He covers an eye, blinks. "I've a brain tumor," he says. "Ridiculous," she says, not looking up from the crossword. "It's a hangover." #vss
- vbubbles1874 just saw an old man working a crossword puzzle while driving down I-35!
- tanaise It may be my History degree talking but i just read a crossword hint that said 'not illuminated.' i spent awhile trying to fit unpainted.
- linusdotson Table next to me discussing how dumb drunk people are. I'm going to slam a few 40s and challenge them to a crossword puzzle speed match.
- MJCenteno So my sewing final is a crossword... LOL really?? :)
- davemunger The loser across from me at Panera is doing facebook. He should be doing *real* work like...um...twitter and crosswords
- bubblebathos crossword clue was "the only mammals that fly" and my first thought was whales
- CarterBays #crossword "Aspic" was an answer two days in a row last week. Saturday and Sunday. We get it, Will Shortz, you like beef jello.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]
P.S. If you missed the "Simpsons" 20th anniversary puzzle I published earlier this week (written by me and Patrick Blindauer) ... yeah, you should do it. It's here. Thanks.
P.P.S. I wrote a puzzle based on this puzzle's title. It's called "INSIDE DOPE, PART 2" — get it here.