1894 opera set in Egypt / THU 1-28-10 / Scalding castle weapon / Star Wars droid informally / A gun slangily
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Constructor: Raymond C. Young
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: PINK THINGS (54A: What 17-Across and 10- and 24-Down all conceal) — theme answers have words that represent PINK THINGS embedded in them...
Word of the Day: Lonette MCKEE (46D: Lonette of "The Cotton Club" and "Malcolm X") —
Lonette McKee (born July 22, 1954) is an American film and television actress, music composer/producer/songwriter, screenwriter and director. [...] McKee won critical acclaim for her Broadway debut performance in the musical The First. She became the first African American to play the coveted role of 'Julie' in the Houston Grand Opera's production of Show Boat on Broadway, for which she received a Tony Award nomination. Her tragic portrayal of jazz legend Billie Holliday in the one-woman show, Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill won critical acclaim, standing ovations and a Drama Desk Award nomination. She reprised the role of 'Julie' on Broadway in the most recent revival of the musical Show Boat directed by Hal Prince. [...] McKee had a recurring role on the NBC drama Third Watch. McKee was featured in People magazine's Fifty Most Beautiful 1995 issue. // McKee teaches a master acting workshop at Centenary College of New Jersey, where she serves as an adjunct professor in the Theater Arts department.
Went to sleep early last night, woke up at 5am and solved this puzzle first thing. Not the most ... efficient way to solve a puzzle. I was not in power-solving mode, so I'm actually not quite sure how difficult/un-difficult this one was. Felt on the easy side much of the time, but then there were hang-ups — most notably in the NE and SW — and I actually stared at the final blank square — the "K" in PINK! — for many seconds before the "K" fell in. PINY THINGS? No. One glance around the grid helped me (eventually) see the PINK. Came in slightly slower than normal ... I guess we an go "Medium-Challenging," but more "Medium" than "Challenging" for me. I don't know that I liked this theme, but I have to at least give it credit for being interesting. PINK THINGS is descriptive, but not exactly a common phrase. There is a song called "Pink Thing" on XTC's "Oranges and Lemons" album (1989), but ... it's about a PINK THING that appears *nowhere* in this grid (I'm pretty sure). My main problem today is that FLAMINGO and CARNATION can hardly be said to be "concealed" in their respective answers. There are only two other letters to "conceal" them in each case. It's like a fat guy trying to hide behind a lamp post — not working. Mildly annoying that the CARNATION in INCARNATION doesn't span two words the way the other "concealed" words do. But whatever. The grid, at least, is compelling, with all sorts of stuff I've never or rarely seen (including a TWADDLING THREEPIO!) (31D: Talking silly + 36D: "Star Wars" droid, informally).
- 17A: Scalding castle weapon (FLAMING Oil) — concealing a pink FLAMINGO
- 10D: Resigned response to tragedy ("Que sERA SERa") — concealing a pink ERASER
- 24D: A pharaoh vis-à-vis Horus, in Egyptian myth (inCARNATION) — concealing a pink CARNATION
- 14A: Hatch at a hearing (Orrin) — good old trick: use names that are also perfectly ordinary words as a way of throwing the solver. Spent part of last night thinking about how to use N.B.A. star Rudy Gay's name this way.
- 16A: "Come ___ these yellow sands, / And then take hands": Ariel in "The Tempest" ("unto") — long way to go for [Golden Rule verb], but why not?
- 20A: Former Saturn (Ion) — Well, if it's "former," you know it's not the planet... that Saturn is still Saturn, as far as I know.
- 28A: Four-bagger (tater) — ooh, using slang to clue something even slangier. People probably put HOMER in here at first, if they put in anything.
- 49A: A gun, slangily (heat) — I don't know why "A" is in this clue. I thought it important, so considered A GAT... I guess that, in the phrase PACKING HEAT, "HEAT" stands in for "a gun." OK.
- 11D: Emasculate, say (unsex) — I had DESEX. Seemed reasonable. Part of the trouble up there in the NE.
- 43D: 1894 opera set in Egypt (Thais) — by Jules Massenet. Luckily the name THAIS rang a bell, but this one didn't come easily. Wanted AI(I)DA.
- 55D: Suffix with mescal (-ine) — that seems a bold way to clue (the otherwise cruddy) -INE. It's a psychedelic agent found naturally in peyote. I associate it with Hunter S. Thompson.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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