Actor David of Rhoda / WED 1-27-10 / Daily since 1851 briefly / Quiz show scandal figure Charles Van * / Unthinking servant
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Constructor: Alan Arbesfeld
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: State Anagrams — phrases that involve a state name + an anagram of that state name
Word of the Day: David GROH (6A: Actor David of "Rhoda") —
David Lawrence Groh (May 21, 1939 – February 12, 2008) was an American actor best known for his portrayal of Joe Gerard in the 1970s Mary Tyler Moore spinoff series Rhoda, opposite Valerie Harper. [...] From 1983-1985, Groh played D.L. Brock in the ABC soap opera General Hospital, leaving that daytime serial to appear in Off Broadway play Be Happy for Me (1986). The New York Times drama critic Frank Rich found Groh "completely convincing as the brash gold-chain-and-bikini-clad Lothario". Other New York City theater credits include Road Show (1987), and The Twilight of the Golds (1993). // On television, Groh appeared in guest roles on such series as Melrose Place, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Law & Order, Baywatch, Murder, She Wrote, The X-Files, JAG and L.A. Law. His movies included Victory at Entebbe (1976), Get Shorty (1995), and many independent films. (wikipedia, which warns you that David GROH is not to be confused with David GROHL, former drummer for Nirvana and current Foo Fighters frontman]
Not much to say here. States. Anagrams. Awkward in the middle and dull on the ends. Wanted to dial *something* for Florida ... if not "M" then maybe "F"; something. And KNOW RYE is pretty pathetic as state anagrams go. "NY" and NEW YORK are both in this puzzle, but you knew that (NY TIMES -> 39D: Daily since 1851 briefly). Aside from the new-to-me GROH, the one remarkable feature of this puzzle is how often I had vowel trouble and/or wanted a different answer because the clue was a cheap trap. Let's see. There's GAEA (24D: Earth goddess), which I think can be spelled GAIA; -IBLE (19A: Suffix with convert), which couldn't have been -ABLE though my brain sure considered it; DRINK (29D: Have trouble passing the bar?), which I had as DRUNK at first, despite its not working, part-of-speech-wise; BE STILL (5D: "Hush!"), which really wanted to be BE QUIET; GIFT (24A: "It's a ___"), which really really wanted to be GIRL; and then DOREN (26D: Quiz show scandal figure Charles Van ___) and ARAM (38D: Composer Khachaturian), which I knew ... -ish. Guessed at their spellings and was right. Used Mamie as a guide to Charles's name, and just crossed my fingers on ARAM.
- 17A: What helps pay the governor's salary in Austin? (Texas taxes)
- 26A: Try to telephone some snowbirds? (dial for Florida)
- 42A: Be familiar with a city near White Plains? (know Rye, New York)
- 54A: Some film work Down East? (Maine anime)
- 1A: Intimate inn, familiarly (B and B) — my sincere thanks to whoever coined the term "ampersandwich" for this type of fill. It's a very handy word.
- 20A: Mother's urging at the dinner table (eat) — not "shut up" or "stop picking your nose" or "leave your brother alone."
- 33A: Broadway play about Capote (Tru) — I'm directing a senior thesis about Capote. Specfically, the student is making a graphic novel about Perry Smith, one of the killers in "In Cold Blood." Looks fantastic so far. Maybe she'll let me post images eventually. I owe her a lot, as she has been my undergrad T.A. all year — she brought me coffee before every class in the fall and yesterday, on the first day of "Spring" term, actually brought me sushi. I mean, I called her and ordered her to, but it was still thoughtful...
- 34A: Major in astronomy? (Ursa) — love it, but it *can't* be new.
- 40A: Whimsical roll-call response ("absent!") — love it.
- 58A: Vogue competitor (Elle) — a no-brainer unless you think of "Vogue" as a late-80s Madonna-inspired dance style. Not sure what the "competitor" of that would have been. Line dance? Fox trot?
- 59A: Unthinking servant (robot) — hmmmm ... depends on how you define "think." As modern robot stories go, I highly recommend "Pluto," a contemporary revision of "Astro Boy" by Naoki Urasawa.
- 25D: Retro hairstyle (afro) — a. I still see these. All the time. b. I had the "O" and wrote in UPDO (?)
- 44D: Online reads (E-zines) — I see that there are people online using this term, but I've never heard it uttered by a human being. It is a step up from EMAG, but not much of one.
- 52D: Team Gil Hodges both played for and managed (Mets) — which is "stem" spelled backwards. Surely there is a mediocre puzzle theme in there somewhere.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]
P.S. thanks to a certain beloved commenter for sending me a link to an astonishing blog parody. It's moderately entertaining as a write-up, but what's most astonishing about it is the Comments section. The comments are so spot on that I don't know whether to laugh or cry. Enjoy.
P.P.S. my wife had swooning, hilarious nostalgia over this video yesterday. Apparently some cultural group in N.Z. made the following into a big mid-80s hit. Enjoy: