Swing bandleader Garber / THU 5-20-10 / Escape route city Casablanca / Dancer in Jabba Hutt's court / Baseball All-Star 1954-73
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Constructor: Jim Hilger
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: Ampersandwiches™ — 4 15-letter phrases with letter+AND+letter expressions on either end, with preposition+THE in the middle
Word of the Day: EMIL von Reznicek (26D: Viennese-born composer ___ von Reznicek) —
Emil Nikolaus [Freiherr] von Reznicek (4 May 1860 in Vienna, died 2 August 1945 in Berlin) was an Austrian late Romantic composer of Czech ancestry. [...] Today, Reznicek is remembered mainly for the overture to his opera Donna Diana, composed in 1894. The overture is a popular stand-alone piece at symphony concerts and also served as the theme for the American radio (1947-1955) series Challenge of the Yukon, which later migrated to the TV series (1955-1958) Sergeant Preston of the Yukon. It was also used in the 1950s on the BBC's Children's Hour by Stephen King-Hall for his talks on current affairs. (wikipedia)This is an interesting twist on a familiar phenomenon—the Ampersandwich™. One of my commenters coined the term a while back as a way of describing those crossword answers that fit the form letter+AND+letter, e.g. RANDB, BANDB, RANDR, etc. The arrangement of the Ampersandwiches here is completely arbitrary, and the prepositions in the middle are random, as far as I can tell. Further, the achievement of the interlocking pattern of theme answers is not terribly impressive when you realize they all intersect in the middle of AND. Still, a cute idea. Grid structure, however, leaves you with only short fill in the rest of the grid — nothing longer than six letters (?!). So no interest there, and perhaps too much groany crosswordese (ONEL, ETON, ENDO, EGRETS, EARED, ATRI (gag), etc.), with the double-dose of movie characters (in rotationally symmetrical positions!) being perhaps the most grating part of this parade. OOLA is familiar crosswordese (forgot the consonant, but picked it up eventually), as is ELSA, only here, ELSA has a nutjob clue (57A: Dr. Schneider of "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade"). That character is too minor to be crossworthy. Way too minor. OOLA probably is too, but there are no other OOLAs (except the beginning of "OO LA LA"), so I can forgive that one (21A: Dancer in Jabba the Hutt's court, in "Return of the Jedi").• • •
- 17A: Grocery leisure? (R AND R IN THE A AND P)
- 3D: Interview near an inn? (Q AND A BY THE B AND B)
- 63A: Railroad's work to produce new products? (R AND D ON THE B AND O)
- 11D: Soul music over a financial institution's sound system? (R AND B AT THE S AND L)
- 33A: Baseball All-Star, 1954-73 (MAYS) — should've given similar clue to AARON (19D: Sorkin who created "The West Wing")
- 35A: Word often cried after "Go" ("TEAM!") — I went with "FISH!"
- 46A: Elisabeth of "Hamlet 2" (SHUE) — I'd have gone with "The Karate Kid"; I don't even know what "Hamlet 2" is.
- 51A: Bone below the femur (FIBULA) — I invented a bone called the TIBULA and then wondered how the hell TIRED could be right for 51D: Let go...
- 2D: Escape route city in "Casblanca" (ORAN) — "OMAN, ADEN, IRAN ... something like that. Come ON!" P.S. ORAN crossing ORANG???? (14A: Arboreal critter)
- 31D: Young salmon (SMOLT) — had STOAT (weasel) and SHOAT (piglet) in there before SMOLT ever saw the light of day.
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P.S. forgot to mention that longtime reader/commenter Dave Eckert (aka "imsdave") has his debut puzzle appearing in the LAT today! So congratulations to him. Also, the actress who played ELSA Schneider is named "Doody." That is all.