Actor's order to sock NBA legend / WED 6-20-12 / Withdrawn apple spray / Writer-turned-Utah carpenter / Greek gathering spot of old / Controls prison guard like pop singer / Saturday morning cartoon dog informally
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Constructor: Alan Arbesfeld
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: Spoonerisms of famous names — wacky phrases clued as something having to do with the people whose names are being spoonerized
Word of the Day: Jack Warden (whence the phrase WHACK JORDAN) —
Jack Warden (September 18, 1920 – July 19, 2006) was an American character actor. [...] Warden had his first credited film role in The Man with My Face in 1951, and in 1952 he began a three-year role in the television series Mr. Peepers. After a role as a sympathetic corporal in From Here to Eternity, Warden's breakthrough film role was his performance as Juror No. 7, a salesman who wants a quick decision in a murder case, in 12 Angry Men.
Warden guest-starred on many television series over the years, including two episodes of Barton MacLane's The Outlaws on NBC in 1960, The Fugitive, and later on Marilyn Maxwell's Bus Stop on ABC. He received a supporting actor Emmy Award for his performance as Chicago Bearscoach George Halas in Brian's Song, and was twice nominated for his starring role in the 1980s comedy series, Crazy Like a Fox.Warden was nominated for Academy Awards as Best Supporting Actor for his performances in Shampoo and Heaven Can Wait. He also had notable roles in All the President's Men, ...And Justice for All, Being There, Used Cars (in which he played a celebrated dual role), The Verdict,Problem Child and its sequel, as well as While You Were Sleeping, Guilty as Sin and the Norm Macdonald comedy Dirty Work.Warden appeared in over one hundred movies, typically playing gruff cops, sports coaches, trusted friends or similar roles, during a career which spanned six decades. His last film was The Replacements in 2000, opposite Gene Hackman and Keanu Reeves. [he was also in one episode of "Bewitched" playing a character called "Rex Barker"] (wikipedia)
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POTTY SKIPPIN' got me the theme, and from there on, the fight was pretty normal. I have real trouble doing spoonerisms on the fly, so figuring out the names was not instinctive to me at all. Thankfully, the fill was all very gettable and non-strange, so despite the mental gymnastics I had to do to make the theme answers come out, I actually came in just under my normal time. I am quite impressed at how smooth the fill is, especially considering that several Downs (four, to be exact) have to run through 3 theme answers (this can be very limiting—I will avoid running fill through 3 themes if at all possible just because it can send the level of difficulty, construction-wise, through the roof; really pens you in). Just a couple of issues with the theme answers. First, the apostrophe is misplaced in the clue for POTTY SKIPPIN'—SKIPPIN' is parallel with "avoiding," not "trainin'." Second, I can think of a much, Much better clue for MORMON NAILER. True, it's probably unusable, but it's the clue that answer really wants. The clue it's begging for.
Didn't know COALERS was a thing (44D: Some fuel transporters), and had an inexplicably tough time coming up with both OSCAR (14A: Reason for a February thank-you speech) and HOBBLE (47D: Walk haltingly) (issues with the latter being somewhat more explicable, as I generally think of HOBBLE as a verb meaning "to injure"). Cute theme, smooth fill overall, nothing terribly clunky. A fine Wednesday.
- 17A: Actor's order to sock an N.B.A. legend? (WHACK JORDAN)
- 24A: Teammate of the 17-Across legend avoiding toilet trainin' (POTTY SKIPPIN')
- 33A: Old comic actor's Little Bighorn headline? (CUSTER BEATEN) — OK, admittedly these clues are fantastically nonsensical...
- 43A: Theaten a classic comedienne like a talk-show host? (MENACE DILLER) — I forgot that Dennis Miller was ever a "talk-show host"
- 51A: Writer-turned-Utah carpenter? (MORMON NAILER)
- 62A: Controls a prison guard like a pop singer? (TAMES JAILER)
- 20A: Julian Assange posting (LEAK) — I feel like I just read that he is seeking asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy? Or did I dream that? Nope, it's real.
- 28A: Saturday morning cartoon dog, informally (SCOOB) — second appearance in just the past couple months. For some reason, his last appearance befuddled a lot of readers (i.e. Lots of people were googling his clue).
- 57A: "Copernican revolution" philosopher (KANT) — philosopher, "K," KANT. That was how my brain processed that clue and got the answer (instantly).
- 7D: Kneeler's words ("MARRY ME") — Wanted some version of "My lord..." I can think of other [Kneeler's words] ...
- 58D: Withdrawn apple spray (ALAR) — common crossword answer, though somehow this clue makes ALAR sound quite benign, as if "apple spray" were some kind of household product, or even a taste treat, as opposed to a crop spray (a growth regulator, it turns out, and not a pesticide, as I had assumed all along).