1961 hit for Shirelles / MON 6-28-10 / Curly ethnic hairstyle colloquially / Schreiber who won Tony for Glengarry Glen Ross / Small American thrush
Monday, June 28, 2010
Constructor: Joel Fagliano
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: -A-A — eight-letter phrases where the first part starts with XAXA (where "X" = consonant)
Word of the Day: VEERY (28D: Small American thrush) —
The Veery, Catharus fuscescens, is a small thrush species. It is occasionally called Willow Thrush or Wilson's Thrush. It is a member of a close-knit group of migrant Catharus species, which also includes the cryptotaxa Grey-cheeked Thrush (C. minimus) and Bicknell's Thrush (C. bicknelli).
Didn't enjoy this while solving, because a., VEERY (28D: Small American thrush), what the hell? and b. no idea what theme was while solving and c. if I never see BABAWAWA in a puzzle again it'll be too soon. Then I hit JEWFRO and nearly all was forgiven (50D: Curly ethnic hairstyle, colloquially). I canNot believe that got in. Has it been in before? It's quite in-the-language, but seems like it might offend someone, somehow. If the word "JEW" is involved, the NYT tends to tread *very* lightly. I've had readers object to the word JEW's appearing in the grid At All (unless it's clued as part of the Marlowe title, "The ___ of Malta"). Anyway, JEWFRO is great and fresh and Easily the best thing on the menu today. There are lots of Xs (and EXES), and the grid shape is odd (in that theme answers are not identifiable by layout), so those are pluses as well, I suppose. Could've done without three RE-words. Also, LATEN and (moreso) EMBAR are two of my least favorite xword words. EMBAR could likely have been done away with, no problem, so I guess that's just a matter of taste. Constructor thought it tasted good. I thought it tasted like Miracle Whip (that's "not good," btw).
- 20A: Dreamy state (LA LA LAND)
- 56A: Gilda Radner character on "S.N.L." (BABA WAWA)
- 5D: One in a million (RARA AVIS)
- 10D: "Hubba hubba!" ("VA-VA-VOOM!")
- 38D: 1961 hit for the Shirelles ("MAMA SAID")
- 40D: Owner of the largest bed Goldilocks tried (PAPA BEAR)
So the puzzle was Medium-Challenging, barely. I mean, it was at the upper end of normal for me, time-wise, so, close call, but between VEERY and the unorthodox grid, I figured it would, overall, take people slightly longer than normal (which, on Monday, may be a matter of seconds, as it was with me).
- 25A: Schreiber who won a Tony for "Glengarry Glen Ross" (LIEV) — I know him by sight, but I have no idea how. Couldn't name a movie he's been in off top of my head—was he in the Orson Welles biopic? Yes, "RKO 281" — whoa! He was in one of my very favorite movies of the '90s: the highly under-rated and largely forgotten "Walking and Talking" (with the sensational Catherine Keener). Wow. I want to watch that movie right now. I think Schreiber played Anne Heche's jewelry-designing husband.
- 58D: What moons do after full moons (WANE) — dear god, how many moons are there? It's the same damn moon that's full and that WANEs ... gotta be a clue that doesn't involve repeating the word "moons"
- 59D: Abbr. before a name on a memo (ATTN.) — NAME is in the grid (RENAME). Kind of stuff I notice only when I really don't have a lot to say about a puzzle.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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