Saloon singer Sylvia / SUN 6-3-12 / 1966 Florentine flooder / Musandam Peninsula nation / Japanese kana character / City that hosts world's biggest annual game fair / 1956 Ingrid Bergman Yul Brenner film / Fictional friend of Peter goatherd
Sunday, June 3, 2012
Constructor: Patrick Berry
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: "Myth-Labeled" — theme clues are imagined WARNING labels for famous mythological things
Word of the Day: Sylvia SYMS (72A: Saloon singer Sylvia) —
Sylvia M. L. Syms OBE (born 6 January 1934) is an English actress. She is probably best known for her roles in the films Woman in a Dressing Gown (1957), Ice Cold in Alex (1958), No Trees in the Street(1959), Victim (1961) and The Tamarind Seed (1974). She remains active in films, television and theatre. [wikipedia] [I have no idea what "saloon singer" means or refers to here] [oh, there are two Sylvia SYMS ... here's the other—]
Sylvia Syms (December 2, 1917 - May 10, 1992) was an American jazz singer.
She was born Sylvia Blagman in Brooklyn, New York, United States. As a child, she had polio. As a teenager, she went to jazz-oriented nightclubs on New York's 52nd Street, and received informal training from Billie Holiday. In 1941 she made her debut at a club called 'Billy's Stable'.In 1948, performing at the Cinderella Club in Greenwich Village, she was seen by Mae West, who gave her a part in a show she was doing. Among others who observed her in nightclubs was Frank Sinatra who considered her the "world's greatest saloon singer." Sinatra subsequently conducted her 1982 album, Syms by Sinatra.
• • •
FORBIDDEN FRUIT and 4D: WARNING: May cause damnation if swallowed the clue for 23A SWORD OF DAMOCLES (sword ... swallowing ... you can see how I got there). Then I hit on theme answers that had no intersecting theme answers. Then I went back and read the clues I'd thought were switched. The I realized I was dealing with a straightforward "things from mythology" puzzle that had been made interesting / NYT-worthy by this WARNING label gambit.
- 23A: WARNING: Suspension system prone to failure (SWORD OF DAMOCLES)
- 29A: WARNING: May contain Greeks (TROJAN HORSE)
- 50A: WARNING: Possible heart-related side effects (CUPID'S ARROW)
- 75A: WARNING: Cutting tool required (GORDIAN KNOT)
- 96A: WARNING: Do not open (PANDORA'S BOX)
- 103A: WARNING: Effects on children unknown (FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH)
- 4D: WARNING: May cause damnation if swallowed (FORBIDDEN FRUIT)
- 54D: WARNING: Improper use could lead to jealousy, treachery and/or war (APPLE OF DISCORD)
Theme was Very easy (I have a decent knowledge of mythology, I think), but some of the cluing was tough, and I ended up with a very average time. The NE corner in particular gave me fits. Shoved TROJAN HORSE in there just fine, but on first pass, *none* of the Downs and *none* of the Acrosses fell into place. Then UNARM fell in (16D: Strip of weapons). Then AGE OLD (15D: Antediluvian). And from there AGNES (22A: Saint Clare of Assisi's sister). So it was gettable. Just slow to come together. Clue on OILMEN was great, but again, tough (35A: Well-connected industrialists?).
CHADS (40A: They get punched out). Had some trouble with TATE (69D: Home to many John Constable works, with "the") / FEAT (77A: Tour de force), and initially forgot the APPLE was OF DISCORD, so the east was a little sticky. Thought the "headed" in 52D: Headed heavenward was adjectival, so had an improbable amount of trouble with ROSE (and also ROT, its neighbor; 53D: Floorboard problem). And there must be lots easier ways to clue CHI (87D: Japanese kana character). Otherwise, nothing but little hiccups here and there, mostly with names. Sylvia SYMS is a name I've seen before, but the clue today offered no hope whatsoever. No idea that ESSEN hosted any kind of game fair, let alone the world's biggest annual game fair. Never heard of "ANASTASIA" (though I got it at first glance because "ANAS-" was already in place) (8D: 1956 Ingrid Bergman/Yul Brynner film). No idea who Peter the goatherd is, but again, with crosses in place, I could see that he was HEIDI's friend (61D: Fictional friend of Peter the goatherd). Got John ASTIN right away (learned him from crosswords years ago) (102A: "The Addams Family" actor John), but needed some coaxing to remember [Kojak's first name] (THEO). Trivia answer of the day: ACORN (3D: Symbol used to mark England's National Trails). I think the "nation" is the U.K., and the ACORN can be found on trail markers in Scotland, too, but I could be wrong. [I'm wrong—thistles, I'm told, for Scotland]
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld