TV persona giving prank interviews / FRI 2-11-11 / Hockey player's dangle / Antigonae opera composer / Title character of 1920s Broadway
Friday, February 11, 2011
Daisie Adelle Davis (25 February 1904 - 31 May 1974), popularly known as Adelle Davis, was an American author and a pioneer in the fledgling field of nutrition during the mid-20th century. She advocated whole unprocessed foods, criticized food additives, and claimed that dietary supplements and other nutrients play a dominant role in maintaining health, preventing disease, and restoring health after the onset of disease. (wikipedia)
• • •A solid if undistinguished themeless offering. I really do like fresh, contemporary entries in my themelesses, and this one had virtually none. Could have been from 30 years ago—except NORAH Jones (7D: Singer Jones). Even JETER is a little last-millennium. Nothing else is very Now. Smooth, but ... shrug. I wish themeless constructors would build grids around a handful of winning, modern names / terms / in-the-language phrases. It's the NYT. It should be forward-thinking. Currently, it's being outshone on a regular basis in that department by several other puzzles, including Peter Gordon's Fireball Crosswords and The Onion A/V Club puzzle. Being modern doesn't have to mean including some indie band that no one over 40 will have heard of; it simply means that the puzzle should seem at least vaguely responsive to the world as it's currently being lived in. I do admire today's puzzle — it's very well crafted — but I wish themelesses in particular would be a bit more daring than this.
Lots of names Again today, though only ADELLE and TED(s) (48A: Oscar-winning screenwriter Tally and others) were outside my knowledge base (ELIE is inside the base only because crosswords have pounded her name into my head ... she's a she, right? Damn, he's a he. Of course he is. ELIE Wiesel's a he. What was I thinking?) (3D: Fashion designer Saab). TED Tally won the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for "Silence of the Lambs." What the hell was going on with the sports clues today? A hockey player's "dangle?" That sounds obscene. And DEKE is already slang? Why would you need "dangle" when you have DEKE? I've never heard of this "dangle," though I'm admittedly not a hockey fan. I'll ask 5-time ACPT champion Tyler Hinman. He likes hockey, if his incessant hockey-season tweets are any indication. Bigger issue for me was the clue on JETER (39A: He broke Gehrig's 70-year all-time hits record). Misleading as hell. JETER does not hold the "all-time hits record." That record is held by Pete Rose. What JETER holds is the "all-time Yankees hits record." The fact that the clue omits this important bit of information makes it, pardon my French, total bullshit. JETER does have more all-time hits than any active player, but he's a good 1300+ hits shy of Rose's record. P.S. Pete Rose should be in the Hall of Fame, but that's a point to be made another time.
Started this one with -SGT (1D: Squad leader: Abbr.) and TEES (19A: Two out of twenty?) and ELIE and that gave me a momentum that never ceased. Slowed a little in the SW when I double-stumbled with ATT and TILE (instead of ITT (37A: Onetime communications giant) and PINE (56A: Flooring option)), but I finally backed GET IN SHAPE (26D: Work out) into a corner and got out of there unscathed. Tore through the rest of it until the NE corner, which I inched my way through. Stupid ADELLE and stupid ITALIANATE held me up. Ironically, gave my lecture on Italy and the Renaissance today in Brit Lit I. Never once used the word ITALIANATE, though (12D: Like much Renaissance art). Speaking of Renaissance—two Shakespeare quotations?! That's more than I HATH ERST seen in a puzzle.(23A: "She ___ Dian's wit": Romeo + 49D: "The even mead, that ___ brought sweetly fort ...": "Henry V")
- 1A: Loser to Al Pacino for Best Actor of 1992 (STEPHEN REA) — "The Crying Game"; Pacino won for (barf) "Scent of a Woman" (possibly my least favorite movie title ever).
- 15A: Where pitchers are often placed (SALES ROOMS) — words cannot expression how tired I am of the use of "pitch" as a misdirection word in clues for AD- or SALES-related answers.
- 29A: "Antigonae" opera composer (ORFF) — Got it off the "F" in ASIANFLU. Not really other options in that scenario.
- 38A: Pesäpallo is their national sport (FINNS) — Hmmm. Wikipedia sez:
The rules of pesäpallo are quite complicated, but the idea of the game is simple. One team tries to score by hitting the ball and running through the bases, the other team tries to defend by catching the ball and putting the runners out. The key to the game and the most important difference between pesäpallo and baseball is the vertical pitching. Hitting the ball, as well as controlling the power and direction of the hit, is much easier. This gives the offensive game much more variety, speed and tactical dimensions than in baseball. The fielding team is forced to counter the batter’s choices with defensive schemes and anticipation, and the game becomes a mental challenge.
- 35A: Group seen in late-night hours? (AEIOU) — I actually love this. Clever.
- 41D: TV persona giving prank interviews (ALI G) — even though I've known of this character for years, I almost always trip on him when he shows up in xwords. ALIG just looks so odd in the grid.
- 52A: Title character of 1920s Broadway (ABIE) — should be a gimme for any long-time solver. "ABIE's Irish Rose."
- 59A: Old Hollywood method of promoting talent (STAR SYSTEM) — despite its self-professed oldness, this answer is probably my favorite. Snappy and original-seeming.
- 25D: Onetime meringue-filled treats (OREOS) — Ew, really? I don't eat these much, but I much prefer the straight, untinted creme filling. I'm an original Double Stuf purist.
- 55D: Minnesota city with Vermilion Community College (ELY) — A Garrison Keilloresque clue. I must have heard of this city at some point, because it went in pretty easily.
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