Peaceful race in Avatar / TUE 8-24-10 / Self-proclaimed astronaut of boxing / Huge poetically / Sport with shells
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Constructor: Caleb Madison and J.A.S.A. Crossword Class
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: TAXI CABANA — "-ANA" is added to the ends of familiar phrases, creating wacky phrases, clued "?"-style
Word of the Day: "My Friend IRMA" (24D: "My Friend ___" of 1950s TV) —
My Friend Irma, created by writer-director-producer Cy Howard, was a top-rated, long-run radio situation comedy, so popular in the late 1940s that its success escalated to films, television, a comic strip and a comic book, while Howard scored with another radio comedy hit, Life with Luigi. Marie Wilson portrayed the title character, Irma Peterson, on radio, in two films and a television series. The radio series was broadcast on CBS Radio from April 11, 1947 to August 23, 1954. (wikipedia)
Ah, Professor Madison. At it again. Still got another year left in high school, and here he is, doing his second (at least, right?) stint as a teacher of crossword construction. J.A.S.A. stands for "Jewish Association for Services for the Aged," and they offer a range of continuing education courses for older people. Here's the blurb on the class from the Fall 2010 catalog:
- Get A Clue!
- A Comprehensive Course on Crossword Construction
- Instructor: CALEB MADISON
- This class will outline the basic principles of crossword puzzle construction. It will begin with some basic crossword history, but focus mainly on how to come up with a theme, a useable grid, and create the fill. Building puzzles will improve our solving skills. At the end of the semester, the class will come up with one final puzzle to be submitted for publication in The New York Times.
Right off the bat this puzzle felt livelier than your average early-week fare. ZOWIE! Pretty simple theme concept — add three letters — but as I've said before, simple is great if the resulting phrases have pop, and these mostly do. MR. NICE GUYANA, while being kind of a funny phrase, isn't really cluable in a way that makes any sense, even wackily, but the others work just fine. BANDANA and BANANA are a little close to one another. Greater variety would have been nice, but ... these are minor points. Two long Downs are wonderful, and the whole grid is pretty neatly filled. For a group effort from a largely inexperienced lot, this is really high-quality work.
- 20A: Title for a South American mensch? (MR. NICE GUYANA)
- 34A: Result of heating a certain fruit too long? (SMOKING BANANA)
- 42A: Informal headwear that can't be shared? (ONE-MAN BANDANA)
- 56A: Secretive singer Baez? (JOAN OF ARCANA)
- 6D: Peaceful race in "Avatar" (NAVI) — proud that this answer has become a gimme for me without my ever having had to see the damned movie.
- 33D: Sir Geraint's faithful wife (ENID) — Countdown to my Arthurian Literature class: 7 days. I'm sure the students will get a good dose of ENID in there somewhere.
- 44D: Final movie of Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable, with "The" ("MISFITS") — tried to watch it once. Failed.
- 59D: Sport with shells (CREW) — this is pretty wicked cluing for a Tuesday. Could think only of three-card monte, which I assumed (rightly) was not a "sport."
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