Relative of raccoon / TUE 4-6-10 / Westernmost of Aleutians / Verbal brickbats / It's directly below V-B-N-M / French filmdom
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Constructor: Sarah Keller
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: ICE CREAM (62A: Cold treat that can precede the last word of 18-, 23-, 40- or 50-Across) — gives you an ICE CREAM BAR, CONE, SANDWICH, and FLOAT
Word of the Day: Robert CULP (41D: Late actor Robert of "I Spy") —
Robert Martin Culp (August 16, 1930 – March 24, 2010) was an American actor, scriptwriter, voice actor and director, widely known for his work in television. Culp earned an international reputation for his role as Kelly Robinson on I Spy (1965–1968), the espionage series in which he and co-star Bill Cosby played a pair of secret agents. [...] He went on to star in the provocative Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice in 1969, probably the height of his movie career. Another memorable role came as another gunslinger, Thomas Luther Price, in Hannie Caulder (1971) opposite Raquel Welch. A year later, Hickey & Boggs reunited him with Cosby for the first time since I Spy. Culp also directed this feature film, in which he and Cosby portray over-the-hill private eyes. In 1986, he had a primary role as General Woods in the comedy Combat Academy. // Culp played the U.S. President in Alan J. Pakula's 1994 murder mystery The Pelican Brief starring Denzel Washington and Julia Roberts. In all, Culp gave hundreds of performances in a career spanning more than 50 years.
Happy to have occasion to remember Robert CULP. I watched "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice" for the first time last month and loved it. DVD features a wonderful commentary by the surviving main actors, which at the time included CULP. He came across as a warm and smart man who really loved what he did. I finished listening to that commentary and thought "I should pay more attention to this guy's career." "I Spy" was before my time (before my birth, actually).
I'm always somewhat surprised to see "word that can precede / follow" puzzles in the NYT, especially when they're this straightforward. Old hat. Not terribly ambitious. However, as this type of theme goes, I thought this one was just fine, with a couple of really lovely theme answers. Always good to have your central, marquee answer be the best thing about the grid. Today, a snazzy KNUCKLESANDWICH really livens up the grid, and it looks especially good sitting on top of TRIXIE ("Sitting on Top of TRIXIE" being Ed Norton's highly unsuccessful guide to a successful marriage) (44A: Alice's best friend on "The Honeymooners"). I also like TRAFFICCONE, if only for that double-C in the middle. Whole thing looks like an Italian last name. ORNE (39A: French river or department) and ATTU (43A: Westernmost of the Aleutians) make me sad, but most of the rest of the fill is just fine. I had only a couple of slow-downs. First, in and around ORNE, largely because I went with OISE at first, and then didn't get DRIP at all as a "feature" of an icicle (29D: Icicle feature). To me, a drip is separate from the icicle proper, but I see how the clue works just fine. I later had a minor snag in the SE, where I decided to go with TAMBLA (!) at 49D: Indian percussion (TOMTOM). I see now, that I was thinking of the TABLA, which is, in fact, an Indian percussion instrument. TAMBLAS are the percussion instruments they play at NAMBLA meetings. Or so I hear.
- 18A: It's directly below V-B-N-M (SPACE BAR)
- 23A: Highway safety marker (TRAFFIC CONE)
- 40A: Punch in the mouth, slangily (KNUCKLE SANDWICH)
- 50A: Homecoming display (PARADE FLOAT)
- 1A: Establishments with mirrored balls (DISCOS) — "mirrored balls" being the male equivalent of "Vajazzling," I think (you can thank Brendan Quigley for introducing me to that word)
- 21A: Relative of a raccoon (COATI) — one of those I-ending words you should just know. It's not uncommon in xwords.
- 3D: Flight segment (STAIR) — tripped. Wanted STAGE.
- 19A: French filmdom (CINE) — crosswords being the one place where the word "filmdom" is really thriving.
- 24D: Verbal brickbats (FLAK) — now BRICKBATS would make a great answer.
- 37D: Prepared for takeoff (TAXIED) — this word always makes me think of this song:
Congratulations to Duke, and to Butler, for that matter.
Oh, that means someone has (just now) won the 2010 OOXTEPLERNON NCAA Men's Basketball Pool Competition — let me see who it is ... It's J. Johnson, aka FlamingoJoe 1. Contact me, Joe, so I can get you your copy of Bob Klahn's "The Wrath of Klahn" crossword book ASAP. Notable finishers in the competition also include Crosscan in 3rd, Orange in 6th, and PuzzleGirl in 9th. For the record, I had Duke out in the second round. Genius!
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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