Family in John Grisham's Skipping Christmas /FRI 7-22-11/ Pool exhibitions / Filming process multiple aspect ratios / Fantastic figure children's lit
Friday, July 22, 2011
A water spectacle that consists usually of swimming and diving with musical accompaniment. (M-W.com)
• • •I apologize in advance for the briefness of this write-up. It's not just the hottest night of the year, it's the hottest night of the 12 years I've lived in this damned town. We have one room with A/C, and my wife is currently trying to sleep in there—the sound of my typing will not help, and let's just say the hottest night of the year is *probably* not the best time to be annoying my wife with my (admittedly heavy) clackitty-clacking. The heat somehow did not keep me from attending a Level 3 (hard) yoga class this evening in a non-air-conditioned studio, so I'm a little beat. Plus some jackass in my neighborhood apparently has a Lot of firecrackers he forgot to set off on the fourth, so it sounds like there's a full-on gun fight going on about a block away. None of this is conducive to clear or thoughtful writing. So, to be brief...
I mostly enjoyed this grid. Cluing seemed pretty damned hard, but I managed to make it through in an above-average but reasonable time. The smaller corners, with the longish Acrosses, are quite a bit better than the bigger corners, with the longish Downs. Specifically, I could do without AQUACADES (do these still exist? where do you go to see them?) and OPEN MATTE (an odd technical term I'll never remember) (33D: Filming process for multiple aspect ratios). Both feel very plucked-by-computer-from-a-wordlist. But the other longer answers are mostly nice. Enjoyed the LIFELIKE SEX SCENE (49A: Natural + 54A: R-rated element) and the idea of CLIP-ON TIE as a "fashion" (!) (31D: Hassle-free fashion item) and I could practically smell the AROMATIC MGM GRAND (16A: Redolent + 7A: Vegas Strip hotel). There were few answers that I really didn't like ... in fact, aside from the aforementioned long stuff, only one thing besides the obviously terrible REECHO (30A: Come back again) struck me as a real problem: KRANKS (27D: Family in John Grisham's "Skipping Christmas"). Who the what the? How in the world is anyone supposed to know this? Is that Grisham novel a classic? Widely known? So widely known one might be expected to know the family name? When did that happen. Nothing about the clue makes the answer inferrable. Doesn't feel like a legit answer at all. Didn't get the vowel until I *finally* deciphered LAST LAP (35A: It's signaled with a white flag). KRINKS seemed more likely, but only because of Kris KRINKle, which is obviously not his name. The MOWS clue kind of blows because the "(down)" part is completely unnecessary (20A: Cuts (down)). Red herring nonsense. DYSON (45D: James who invented the Dual Cyclone vacuum cleaner) crossing LYNDA (48A: ___ Bird, daughter of L.B.J.) at the "Y" felt a little dycey for few seconds, but I don't think any other letter makes any kind of sense there.But most of this was solid and entertaining.
- 1A: California river, county or mountain (SHASTA) — first thing in the grid, after confirming the final "A" with ARS (6D: "___ Grammatica" (classic work on Latin)). Drove past Mt. SHASTA and drank SHASTA soda during many a summer trip as a kid.
- 28A: 2003 movie involving Christmas Eve robberies ("BAD SANTA") — this puzzle really should've appeared in December.
- 38A: Co-writer of Michael Jackson's posthumous hit "This Is It" (PAUL ANKA) — I only know one "This Is It." Nope, two.
- 7D: Island where Rafael Nadal was born (MAJORCA) — and not, as I initially guessed, CORSICA :(
- 11D: Movie box set? (RAISINETS) — the "set" part is reeeaching, but I still like it.
- 35D: Second pope, following St. Peter (LINUS) — I'd've gone Pauling or Van Pelt, but that's just me.
- 42A: Style on Japanese screens (ANIME) — this one got me. I was sure the screens were decorative (and not movie/TV).
- 20D: The "1" in 1/2, e.g. (MONTH) — an old trick that nonethless Totally got me.