Auburn competitors / FRI 1-14-11 / 1969 biopic / Union of 1284 / Violinist/bandleader Light / Robotic group popular in 1980s
Friday, January 14, 2011
Lili Anne Taylor (born February 20, 1967) is an American actress notable for her appearances in such award-winning indie films as Mystic Pizza, Short Cuts and I Shot Andy Warhol. (wikipedia) [loved her in "Short Cuts" and, especially, "Dogfight," opposite the late River Phoenix. So so good...][It's pledge week here at the Rex Parker site (thru Sat.) —read my pitch for donations in the opening paragraphs of Sunday's write-up, here ... and thanks for your faithful readership (and the many kind messages I've received so far)]• • •
I don't think I've ever noticed Martin Ashwood-Smith's grids much before this week. I know the name, for sure — he's fairly prolific, and as one of the contributors to the CrosSynergy puzzle (a very decent, easy daily puzzle that you should be doing), I see his name a lot — but clearly I haven't been able to discern any signature style. His puzzles haven't stood out that much to me—this isn't bad; it probably means they are usually solid, just not showy. Well now he's got my attention, first because of a gorgeous grid he constructed for CrosSynergy this past Sunday, and now for this beauty, which I really like despite the fact that the grid seems to be spelling out "SS." I'll just pretend it's two snakes ... I don't know what that middle section represents. Looks like one snake is passing the other a parcel. ANYway ... back to my enjoyment of this puzzle.
I wonder if I'm predisposed to like a Friday puzzle that I manage to tear through. I don't think so. I mean, it's nice to have that feeling of accomplishment, but if I was wincing throughout, the quick completion time wouldn't be enough to make me forgive the bad stuff. Here, strangely, I actually liked the most difficult part the best—that is, the little snake parcel part in the middle. Those triple-15s up top and down below were a cinch to bring down, but that middle section, yikes. I had that thing criss-crossed with right answers (AMT, ADD, DREAM, MILKSHAKE (44A: Frosty's relative), KILOS, SEX, SAX) and *still* couldn't finish it off. Problem: Unexpected Xs (which I hereby copyright as a possible name for a future zany romantic comedy about a couple just starting their relationship who vacation at a lodge in Colorado only to find out that *both* of their ex-spouses happen to be vacationing there as well (independently) at the same time. Oh, the hijinks). No way I was getting to X-AXIS from [Base line] without one of those Xs in place. Finally guessed the unlikely DART at 23D: Zip (NADA? ZERO? Oh, not that kind of [Zip]? OK), which allowed me to see MARX (28A: "The Poverty of Philosophy" author), and then X-AXIS, TAXIS (38A: Hotel waiters?) (awesome central crossing), SOYA, and SKYE (39D: Island along Cullin Sound) fell quickly thereafter). The rest of the puzzle, I barely remember. I just know I enjoyed much of the long stuff, except ENGLAND AND WALES (66A: Union of 1284), which just doesn't make a nice, self-standing phrase.
Started by trying to get as many of those short Downs as possible up top. That's how you bring down those daunting-looking stacks—just hack at the crosses and they reveal themselves pretty readily. Usually. Here, I got ONTO and DSL and not a lot else until I noticed the gimme INRI (19A: Cross letters), which led immediately to SHRINER (11D: Fez wearer), FENS (30A: Peaty places), and SHARIF (which I got despite knowing little if anything about "CHE," 7D: 1969 biopic starring 10-Down). The TINE (25A: Part of a farm harrow) / ENOCH (26D: Violinist/bandleader ___ Light) crossing was a *little* harrowing (!), but everything else in the puzzle (outside the center), went Wednesday/Thursday quickly.
- 42A: Robotic rock group popular in the 1980s (DEVO) — Huh, I guess their affect is pretty robotic ... I would not have thought to describe them that way. The 80s music / robot box in my head is filled by this:
- 50A: Auburn competitors (REOS) — timely, as Auburn only just this past week defeated the Oregon REOS to win the BCS National Championship.
- 43D: 100 centesimi (ONE LIRA) — somehow never thought of a LIRA as being divisible, let alone divisible into 100 parts.
- 47D: Bird on a Kellogg's cereal box (TOUCAN) — got it quickly, and enjoyed it despite the fact that I've always found TOUCAN Sam phenomenally annoying. I mean, Silly Rabbit annoying. Lucky the Leprechaun annoying. Tony the Tiger annoying. You get the picture.
- 54D: "Good Luck, Miss Wyckoff" novelist (INGE) — never heard of it, but guessed it off the "G"; INGE usually appears in the grid as a playwright.
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