1976 Pulitzer winner for Air Music / THU 6-2-11 / Pioneering puppetteer Tony / Baccarat alternative / Banned medicine used to treat asthma
Thursday, June 2, 2011
Constructor: Brendan Emmett Quigley
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: BORDER / STATES (26D: With 28-Down, theme of this puzzle) — BORDER (or edges) of the puzzle made up entirely of names of STATES
Word of the Day: ISOLATO (38D: Person who's out of step with society) —
noun, plural -toes.
a person who is spiritually isolated from or out of sympathy with his or her times or society. (dictionary.com) (*not* in my Webster's 3rd New International)
Styx - Mr. Roboto
The grid is nice, but I didn't care for the theme. I kept thinking how are these *BORDER* STATES? I saw that they were on the BORDER of the grid, but ... what was their relation to each other. FLORIDA and ALABAMA BORDER each other, aha! But ... ALASKA and MONTANA do not. Maybe they're on the BORDER of the country. MONTANA and ALASKA, yes! WYOMING and NEVADA? Ugh. Finally realized, very anticlimactically, that the fact that they're on the BORDER of the grid was all the BORDER action I was going to get, and that the pairs or intersecting STATES had precisely nothing to do with each other. Let down.
But as I say, the grid is lovely. Very typically BEQ, in a lot of ways, with tons of proper nouns, many of them quite contemporary. Also, I tend to think of his proper noun clues as being particularly long, like 9D: Doctor whom Nixon called "the most dangerous man in America" (LEARY) or 33D: TV character who said "Him a beauty. Like mountain with snow — silver-white" (TONTO) or 56A: Stephen of Joyce's "Portrait of the Artist of the Young Man" (DEDALUS), which is only long because the title of the book is long, I realize, but still, you get my point. A couple of the names in this puzzle I did not know, most notably ISADORE Freleng (12D: ___ Freleng, creator of Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck). Isn't there a FRITZ Freleng? Oh, crud, there is—only it's FRIZ Freleng, and that's actually how ISADORE Freleng is (much) better known. I don't feel so cartoon-stupid after all, now.
Crosswordese knowledge came in very handy today, especially with names. Gimmes included Tony SARG (51D: Pioneering puppeteer Tony), ODILE (5D: "Swan Lake" swan), Ned ROREM (30A: 1976 Pulitzer winner for "Air Music"), and (the first answer I put in the grid) "I, TINA" (52A: 1986 rock autobiography). I was also greatly aided by the Nabokov clue, which was a gimme for me (13D: Actual name of Nabokov's Lolita). The opening of that book features a terse yet lyrical passage in which Humbert catalogues the various incarnations of her name:
She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita.
Creepy, right? Such a good book. I bought copies of "Lolita" and "The Road" for my local public library this past weekend. Was very happy to see them on the library's wish list, i.e. was very happy not to have to send yet another James Patterson novel out into the world.
- 15A: Banned medicine used to treat asthma (EPHEDRA) — I know this only as a diet drug. Confusing clue. Was it banned in treatment of asthma too? Wouldn't [Banned asthma medication] have worked?
- 18A: Where "Lucrezia Borgia" premiered (LA SCALA) — this is how I figured out that ISADORE was not ISIDORE.
- 20A: Baccarat alternative (FARO) — olde-timey card games. I know nothing about either.
- 29A: "Drawing is putting a line round an ___": Henri Matisse ("IDEA") — nice quotation—IDEA is much better than my initial guess, AREA.
- 44A: Org. that combats illegal file sharing (RIAA) — rough for me. Had to get every letter from crossings. I'm guessing this stands for Recording Industry Association of America ... and I'm right.
- 49A: Approximate year in which Eric the Red was born (CML) — thumbs down to "approximate year" clues.
- 8D: Syllables following "Strike the harp and join the chorus" ("FA LA LA") — "... LA LA, LA LA LA LA, DON WE NOW OUR GAYYYYY APPAREL etc."
- 41D Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, 1987-95 (SAM NUNN) — I remember him as "that Hawkish Democrat who is going to run for president some day." I'm guessing that ship has sailed.
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