Soprano Tebaldi / SUN 11-14-10 / Army-McCarthy hearings figure / Founder of Celesteville / Tess's literary seducer / City where TV's Glee is set
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Constructor: Patrick Berry
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: "Doubleheaders" — familiar phrases have a word inserted before (at the "head" of) the first and last words in the phrase, creating wacky phrases, which are clued "?"-style
Word of the Day: LEONA LEWIS (117A: Singer of the 2008 #1 hit "Bleeding Love") —
Leona Louise Lewis (born 3 April 1985) is a British pop and R&B singer–songwriter. Lewis rose to fame during the third series of the British television series The X Factor, which she won. // Lewis became a multi-platinum selling artist and three time Grammy Award nominee. She was proclaimed 'Top New Artist' by Billboard magazine in 2008. Lewis has released two albums to date, Spirit and Echo, in 2007 and 2009 respectively. Spirit became the fastest-selling debut album and the biggest seller of 2007 in both the United Kingdom and Ireland, and made Lewis the first British solo artist to top the Billboard 200 with a debut album. It has sold over 6.5 million copies worldwide. // Lewis's debut single "A Moment Like This" became the fastest selling UK single after being downloaded over 50,000 times within thirty minutes of its release. Her second single, "Bleeding Love", reached number one positions in over thirty singles charts around the world. In November 2008 she set a record in the UK for the fastest selling download-only release with her cover version of the Snow Patrol song "Run" which sold 69,244 copies in two days. Lewis's debut tour, The Labyrinth, started in 2010. [and yet I have no idea who she is ...]
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It's rare that I don't enjoy a Patrick Berry puzzle, but this one (as far as the theme goes) didn't do much for me. Maybe I just don't understand the concept. At first I thought the inserted words were actually *types* of "heads," e.g. BEDhead, BIG head, DEADhead ... but I don't think there's such thing as a BUCKhead (though if you change that "B"...). And since the phrases have different numbers of words, the "head" concept just doesn't seem nearly as tight as it ought to be. As a result, TRASH [-] TRASH TALK was brutal—went looking for a single word ending "-WE," but no ... it's TRASH CAN WE TRASH TALK ... creative, but convoluted. Non-theme stuff is actually very interesting in parts. I got buried by two Wildly different answers: LEONA LEWIS (who seems far too popular for me never to have heard of her) and IDEAL GAS LAW (64D: pV = nRT, to physicists), which sounds massively made up but I'm sure isn't. Most of the rest of the grid I was able to piece together fairly readily, though I think overall the cluing was tough enough to offset the easiness created by the theme (i.e. if you can get one of the "heads," you've got the other). Thus, Medium.
- 23A: Factors to consider while trying to sleep on a campout? (BEDROCK AND BEDROLL)
- 30A: What the marshal declared the moonshiner's shed to be? (FIRE WATER FIRE HAZARD)
- 48A: Ohio State athlete who forgot his uniform? (BUCK NAKED BUCKEYE)
- 63A: C.E.O.'s tricycle? (BIG WHEEL OF BIG CHEESE)
- 81A: Wild Bill Hickok holding his aces and eights? (DEADWOOD DEAD DUCK)
- 97A: Garbage receptacle that you and I insult? (TRASH CAN WE TRASH TALK) — I do not think of "TRASH TALK" as a transitive verb, but it's probably legal...
- 108A: "That high lonesome sound," as played by Atlantic crustaceans? (BLUE CRAB BLUEGRASS) — No idea that that quote applied to "BLUEGRASS; here's a Vince Gill song of that name:
Now that I look at the grid, there are a few more things I had no clue about. RENATA Tebaldi, for one (8D: Soprano Tebaldi). With a crossword-friendly name like Tebaldi, I've probably seen her in some grid somewhere before, but she clearly didn't stick. I also feel like I've *probably* see ROADEO before (21A: Truck driving competition), but I may be confusing it with ROLEO, another made-up-sounding competition that I know I learned from crosswords. I don't even know what the Army-McCarthy hearings are, let alone who was a "figure" in them. Somebody named WELCH ... (14D: Army-McCarthy hearings figure). According to wikipedia: "Joseph Nye Welch (October 22, 1890 – October 6, 1960) was the head counsel for the United States Army while it was under investigation by Joseph McCarthy's Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations for Communist activities." I don't really know MEADE, but I'm familiar enough with his name (from crosswords) to insert him whenever the clue is military and the crosses seem right (76D: Army of the Potomac commander, 1863-65). Favorite clues of the day were probably 43D: Fragrant cake (BAR OF SOAP) and 62A: One who puts U in disfavor? (BRIT).
- 17D: Founder of Celesteville, in children's lit (BABAR) — wow, I have zero recollection of this. But then again, I'm more familiar with BABAR as an icon than as a character in a narrative. In fact, I can't remember a damn thing about BABAR.
- 31D: Tess's literary seducer (ALEC) — if we're talking about TESS, aren't we already "literary" ... or was ALEC particularly bookish?
- 35D: City where TV's "Glee" is set (LIMA) — used an inverted form of this clue (to clue GLEE) in one of my own puzzles recently, so zing!
- 54D: Shakespearean character who says "I am not who I am" (IAGO) — wow, that's right over the plate for IAGO. Four-letter deceiver—who else could it be?
- 97D: Cargo vessel with no fixed route (TRAMP) — needed most of the crosses to get this. Realized that the only way I know this word is from "TRAMP STEAMER," which is ... some kind of boat in some movie or other that I've seen somewhere, some time.
- @thatpuzzleguy Starts of theme answers in the USA Today puzzle: BREAST, BACK, BUTTERFLY. Title: "Having A Stroke." Way to make it sound fun! #badpuzzles
- @jrleverett Just met a lovely lady on a train to paddington, we worked on the guardian xword together
- @jonman14 LMAO I FOUND THE EXACT SAME CROSSWORD THAT,MRS TRONGALE GAVE US FOR ENGLISH ONLINE WITH THE ANSWERS,TOO! HAHA! TEXT ME IF YOU WANT EM (;
- @zjharr "How long did it take you to finish the USA Today crossword?" Jim Rome asked. "2 1/2 minutes. Left-handed," Brian Wilson said.
- @ larah2 Older couple next to me at Sbux just finished crossword and high-fived. Seriously want to hug them.
- @ASOS_Ian Sat next to a guy who won't stop copying my Evening Standard crossword answers. Mate, you won't get any better by cheating. #futileannoyance
- @tim_zimmerman Fine I'll say it: I'm a fan of Will Shortz as a table tennis player but not as a puzzle maker
- @schittone37 A clue on the crossword is "nutmeat" this will amuse me for several minutes
- @joevkul 10,000 words for 'inebriated' in English and the best the NYT #crossword can do is "sozzled"? Enough to make a man wanna get his drink on...
- @elcush Will Shortz just told me to "call [him] Will." Relatedly, SWOON.
- @lorikingbrown Get out of bed. Drink Diet Coke. Get back in bed. Think about doing crossword puzzle. Take nap instead. Dream abt Oprah in braided ponytail.
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