"Foolish" singer, 2002 / FRI 7-13-12 / Sir Trevor of the Royal Shakespeare Company / Neil Armstrong's middle name / Logical conjunctions, in mathematics / Chero-Cola, after a name change
Friday, July 13, 2012
Constructor: Jim Horne and Jeff Chen
Relative difficulty: Easy-medium
Word of the Day: FABIAN (30A: 1950s heartthrob)
Fabiano Anthony Forte (born February 6, 1943, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), known as Fabian, is an American teen idol of the late 1950s and early 1960s. He rose to national prominence after performing several times on American Bandstand. Eleven of his songs reached the Billboard Hot 100 listing. Fabian was contracted to 20th Century-Fox; in his screen test he appeared in the same outfit that Elvis Presley wore in Love Me Tender. He appeared in more than 30 films, many of which were comedies and cast him as a restless teenager with a penchant for singing. (Wikipedia) According to his website, he is still rockin'.
I love reading everyone's insights. Especially yours, that one time. But I usually come here right after doing the puzzle, and I'm too tired to comment. If that sounds ridiculous, you're right. It is. It's a truly annoying symptom of myalgic encephalopathy (ME), a chronic illness that nerfed me from a happily newlywed college instructor of English for deaf students down to a happily married disabled lump on the sofa. Any exertion, even mental or emotional, can knock me out for hours or even put me in bed for days.
The good news is that one highly recommended way to combat the cognitive difficulties, or "brain fog" (as a gamer I prefer "fog of brain"), that comes with ME is to do puzzles, which means my favorite hobby is also my daily medicine. I'm fond of shilling for the NYT to fellow patients.
I'm afraid the puzzle titled itself today with the very first across clue. I enjoyed the kooky grid, but was disappointed that the contents were not, on the whole, as enjoyable or kooky. The workaday cluing was parked squarely on the nose and the answers definitely "sparkled a little less" than they ought to for a Friday. Someone like Rex might even make note of the intersections of STIFLEAYAWN, BUSINESSASUSUAL, and ARUT.
The part that stymied me for a while was the name mash-up of ASHANTI, ALDEN, TAJ, and [Home of the Aztec Ruins Natl. Monument], none of which I knew. Well, I guessed TAJ but for all I knew it could have been RAJ. Let's start the bullets with the bright spots:
- 38D: Like Bourne in "The Bourne Identity" (AMNESIC) — This filled in easily, but I had to stop and think afterwards. I can't recall the last time, if ever, I've seen the adjectival form of "amnesia" used. Perhaps I'm amnesic on the subject.
- 50A: Trick or treat, e.g. (NOUN) — This clue was a trick, and a bit of a treat today.
- 21A: "Don't Look Now" diretcor (ROEG) & 22A: Feature of the previous clue (TYPO) — Can you imagine my initial excitement to be blogging on the day there was a mistake in the puzzle? Can you imagine my sheepish facepalm when I reached the very next clue? A good joke and the star of the puzzle for me.
- 23D: The heel of a geographical boot (YEMEN) — I had the Y from the above TYPO and mindlessly chucked in YALTA because geography and sports are usually where the puzzle zooms over my head. The misdirection of the "boot," which invokes Italy at first, seems more in line with a Friday NYT than the rest of the cluing.
And now some bad news:
- 55D: Target of fans' scorn (REF) — On a Friday I'd expect to see something more like "1994 Denis Leary movie". This is a Monday or Tuesday clue.
- 56A: Lab figure who might cackle in glee (EVILSCIENTIST) — I really want this to be MADSCIENTIST. Somehow gleeful cackles seem more MAD than necessarily EVIL. Is it just me?
- 36A: Sounds off? (HUSHES) — I often try the SAT analogies trick of imagining a sentence and seeing whether both clue and answer can respectively fit into it. With HUSHES as a plural noun or as a verb, I get the sense of the clue but I think it's semantically confused. Again, just me? It also happens to cross the second-worst offender...
- 27D: This bud's for you (SOULMATE) — Saying a bud is like a SOULMATE is like saying Rick Perry is just a teensy bit on the conservative side.
- 13D: Young, alluring sort (DATEBAIT) — This is the first time I can remember that a NYT clue has actually creeped me out. I had to Google the phrase to see what it's supposed to mean. It seems to be most commonly used in the sense of something desirable, such as sports tickets or jewelry, that will attract someone to go on a date. But the way it's clued here feels uncomfortably closer to JAILBAIT to me. Perhaps I'm missing a reference? Or maybe it's a throwback to the FABIAN era (which it happens to cross):
Thanks to Rex for trusting a total stranger with this incredibly fun gig, and thanks to a great community for inspiring me to ask for it! This post was made possible by my mother, a NYT crossword addict who used to yell at me for playing lazy words in Scrabble, and my husband Paul, who makes everything possible for me. Have a perfectly normal Friday the 13th, and a perfectly fabulous weekend.
Signed, Joey Haban, Secret Agent of CrossWorld
[Hey, everybody! PuzzleGirl here checking in with a quick announcement. You all know about Lollapuzzoola, right? It's a really fun annual tournament held in New York. This year it will take place on August 4 (that's a Saturday in August). If you can't make it to the tournament, you might be interested in the "compete from home" division. You can find all the info you need at the Lollapuzzoola 5 website, including how to register, some details on prizes, and the list of really unbelievably top-notch constructors who are contributing puzzles to this adventure. Go check it out right now!]