Member of fictional Springfield baseball team / TUE 5-3-11 / Rabbi's co-worker / Actor/singer/athlete/activist Paul / Event held on January 26, 1986
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Constructor: Kevan Choset
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: MAN (71A: Word that can follow the start of 18-, 24-, 38-, 53- or 61-Across) — Adding MAN to starts of theme answers gives you the names of DC and Marvel superheroes
Word of the Day: Springfield ISOTOPEs (43D: Member of a fictional Springfield baseball team) —
The Springfield Isotopes are Springfield's only minor league baseball team. // The team is shown as drastically underfunded and struggling in competition. Their home games are played at Duff Stadium as Duff Beer sponsors and co-manages the team. The Isotopes name is most likely in reference to Springfield's nuclear power plant. // Homer Simpson was the Isotopes mascot for a brief period, before taking over from the Capital City Goofball, before being fired. // Players include Flash Baylor, Fishbone Walker, Smash Diggins, Buck Mitchell and Babe Ruth IV. (Simpsons wiki)
Still, I'll say something. I didn't like this one. This theme seemed weak and tired. I know I've seen something like it before, and as "word that can follow" themes go, this didn't have much spice. MAN is not a "word" that follows the starts of the theme answers. It's more an ... what would you call it? Suffix? Enclitic? Anyway, not a free-standing word. Superhero names are somewhat arbitrary, as is that SUPER BOWL. Come on. That's a Terrible way to get 2 Xs in your puzzle. Add to all that the doubled NO (NO PAR, NO SIR), the pile-up of governmental initialisms (OSS, OAS, NSA — 64D: Subj. of the book "The Puzzle Palace"), the random SCENE V (again, weak way to add Scrabbly letters to your puzzle), a preponderance of crosswordese for a 78-word Tuesday (SANAA, ESAU, ERAS, SAS, ARI, ODO, OBI, USH and on and on and on), and it adds up to not much fun. Liked SPIDER CRAB despite having no idea what one is. Did not like the IRON CURTAIN clue, which I thought needed a "?" at the end (61A: Continental divide, once?). Best part of grid = the NW and SE corners, esp. the Downs (actually, only the Downs).
- 18A: Event held on January 26, 1986 (SUPER BOWL XX)
- 24A: Blue-green gem (AQUAMARINE)
- 38A: Idly debate (BAT AROUND)
- 53A: Long-legged sea animal seen along the Atlantic Coast (SPIDER CRAB)
- 61A: Continental divide, once (IRON CURTAIN)
- 1A: OPEC units: Abbr. (BBL) — Whoa. Really wanted this answer to end in "S".
- 52A: It's a little longer than a foot (SHOE) — that's kind of cute.
- 5D: Closing hour for most N.Y.C. bars (FOUR A.M.) — interesting clue for (otherwise) arbitrary time of day.
- 32D: Rabbi's co-worker (CANTOR) — Also the last name of the (Jewish) Majority Leader in Congress (R-VA)
- 10D: Community resident not affiliated with its local college (TOWNIE) — something about "its" isn't sitting right with me. "Community" is being used adjectivally, so it's a poor referent for "its." The answer itself, though, is nice, and will always remind me of "Breaking Away":
- 48D: Actor/singer/athlete/activist Paul (ROBESON) — that's some combination. I know him best as an actor/singer.
- 47D: Song words followed by "Terre de nos aïeux" ("O CANADA") — I had no idea. "Aïeux" means "ancestors."
- 55D: "___ Inside" (ad catchphrase) (INTEL) — wasn't til way after I'd finished this puzzle that I understood that INTEL was the company name, not short for "intelligence." I was thinking the "catchphrase" appeared on, I don't know, cereal boxes or something.
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