Fabulous singer / 8-31-12 / 1980s Meet Press host Marvin / Actress Rachel of Notebook / Oxygen-dependent organism / Gowns that are rarely worn out / Missal stand's place / Retro candy containers / Newsman something somebody doesn't want printed
Friday, August 31, 2012
Constructor: Patrick Berry
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
Word of the Day: PEIGNOIRS (30D: Gowns that are rarely worn out) —
A peignoir (pronounced: [pɛ.ɲwaːʁ]) is a long outer garment for women which is frequently sheer and made of chiffon or other translucent fabrics. The word comes from French peigner, to comb the hair (from Latin pectināre, from pecten, pectin-, comb) describing a garment worn while brushing ones hair, originally referring to a dressing gown or bathrobe.Very high-end peignoirs were occasionally sold with sheer long gloves and stockings made of the same material as the peignoir itself for wear to bed or on occasions where the wearer would be seen in her nightclothes; such as visiting or while sharing accommodations during travel. Contemporary peignoirs are usually sold with matching nightgown, negligee orpanties.
A peignoir is notably featured in the opening stanza of the poem "Sunday Morning" byWallace Stevens and in opening chapters of the novel Tender Is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald, where it is described in the context of beach attire. In Fawlty Towers a flirtyFrenchwoman has the character name "Mrs. Peignoir". (wikipedia)
• • •NOSEEUMS (21D: Small biters)—that answer always feels a little made up to me, as I've never seen it anywhere outside crosswords, but I've seen it, and it's legit. And anyway, it's overshadowed by lovely stuff like RUNS AFTER, KATIE COURIC (25D: Only person to guest-host "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno"), STORMTROOPERS, DISCOURAGES (the plainest answer in the bunch and it's Rock solid), and the especially awesome PEIGNOIRS (30D: Gowns that are rarely worn out), to say nothing of CRATCHIT (24D: Dickensian surname). This thing is a masterpiece, but not in a way that will be remembered because it's just too smooth—no stunts, no bells, no whistles, just craftsmanship from here to the moon. I don't think people appreciate how hard it is to make a 64-worder (or any puzzle) this solid, this unbumpy, this graceful. Sometimes I forget how good this guy is. He does something a little ordinary-seeming, something with a crack or a chip in it, and all of a sudden he seems quite human. But then he goes and makes something like this, and I remember, "Oh, right. He's Michael Jordan."
MCADAMS (1: Actress Rachel of "The Notebook"). "The Notebook" is very big with girls/ladies (if my students are to be believed), but largely because of one Mr. Ryan Gosling. Or so I assume. Speaking of whom, I just watched "Drive" yesterday and it was great if you like hard-boiled California neo-noir with a lot of violence and car chases and a dash of '80s style. Or if you like Bryan Cranston or Albert Brooks (who doesn't like Brooks?). I don't really know who KALB is, but I've seen him before and I had the -ALB, so bam (25A: 1980s "Meet the Press" host Marvin). Two old newsmen up there, with HEARST (8A: Newsman who famously defined news as "something somebody doesn't want printed") being the far more famous. I don't know BEULAH from "Pilgrim's Progress" (44A: Land of ___ (destination in "The Pilgrim's Progress"))—sounds like a pig's name. But I could infer it easily enough. Despite ignorance of several answers, there wasn't much that slowed me down. I wrote in IMPART for IMPUTE (16A: Ascribe), and that was a definite hang-up, but otherwise, no road bumps at all. A good (educated) guess at REBA helped (43D: "___ #1's" (2005 country music album)). My "secondary definition" sensor was working, as I handled the "Fabulous" in 37D: Fabulous singer (SIREN) with relative ease. Not many flat-out gimmes, but not many bears either.
- 32A: They're written for two-part harmony (PEACE TREATIES) — now that is how you write a clue. A work of art.
- 33A: Amateur geologist's purchase (GEIGER COUNTER) — I thought these measured radiation?? Why would an "amateur geologist" be detecting nuclear radiation? Maybe there's some hobby I'm unaware of.
- 42A: Fifth word of the lyrics to "American Pie" (AGO) — probably really tempting to put PIE in here, except ... PIE is in the clue, and PIE is the fifth word of the *chorus*, not the song.
- 3D: Missal stand's place (ALTAR) — some fancy church equipment I know nothing about, but I knew it was churchy, so ALTAR was easy to suss out.
- 5D: Last monarch of the House of Stuart (ANNE) — some trivia picked up during my grad school days is still hanging around my brain, apparently.
- 41D: One beaten by an ape (CHEST) — "One" always makes me think "human being," so this was fun to struggle with at first, as I had to imagine apes (literal and metaphorical) pummeling assorted people. "Tarzan?"
I have to go see what all this "Clint-talking-to-an-empty-chair" business is all about. Good night.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld