R&B pioneer Johnny / WED 8-29-12 / Belgium-based imaging company / Mischievous Norse god / Hot-coals walker / Gear with docking stations / Born from jets automaker
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Constructor: Tony Orbach
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: You can call me AL — "LA" is flipped to "AL" in familiar phrases, creating all manner of wackiness...
Word of the Day: Bugs MORAN (22D: Bugs of the underworld) —
George Clarence Moran (August 21, 1891 – February 25, 1957), better known by the alias "Bugs" Moran, was a Chicago Prohibition-era gangster. He moved to the north side of Chicago when he was 19, where he became affiliated with several gangs. He was incarcerated three times before turning 21. On February 14, 1929, in an event which has become known as the Saint Valentine's Day massacre, seven members of his gang were gunned down in a warehouse, supposedly on the orders of Moran's rival Al Capone. He has been credited with popularizing the act of driving by a rival's hangout and spraying it with gunfire, now referred to as a drive-by shooting. (wikipedia)
• • •
BOTH (wanted OLIO, which turned up later, with the same clue, which must've been why BOTH was clued that way to begin with ...); I've never seen the phrase "docking stations" within a hundred miles of STEREOS (52A: Gear with docking stations). If that's an accurate technical term, I've never heard it used, and I've owned STEREOS in one form or another nearly all my life. NO DOPE!? Ugh. Took *every* cross to see that one (8D: A real smarty). So there were those little bafflements. But mainly there was the theme answers ALP TOP COVERS and ALTER ON. Never would've thought to look for "TOP" (with ALP pretty much covering the elevation part) and "lap top covers," while certainly things, aren't things I use or see other people use very often, and somehow I thought the AL at the beginning was going to refer to Weird Al, even though he's known for polka and not yodeling ... and ALTER ON ... I expected a RAH or an OLE to turn up in that answer. It's a play on phrases like "rock on" or "party on" ... but it wasn't til I had every single letter that I saw the proper phrase. Never mind the AGFA / FAKIR crossing, which took me Forever (10A: Belgium-based imaging company + 12D: Hot-coals walker). OK, not Forever, as my time was just high, not astronomically high. But I definitely struggled a bit. I love that the theme answers are creative—the theme is so slight that they really need to be in order to justify this puzzle's existing at all. So a couple are a bit ... awkwardly worded. That's OK. Fill is okay, though a little on the xwordesey/clunky side. GOOSEFLESH (11D: Bodily reaction to fear) and MIRACLEBRA (29D: Push-up garment) are nice, though I've seen the latter a few times now (at least once in the NYT). Maybe put it away for a few years before it starts to fray.
- 17A: Balm business? (SALVE TRADE)
- 23A: Yodeling tribute band's repertoire? (ALP-TOP COVERS)
- 38A: Words of encouragement to a tailor? (ALTER ON)
- 48A: Figure at Sarah's cigar store? (PALIN'S INDIAN)
- 57A: "Columbo" trench coat? (FALK JACKET)
I just remarked recently that I didn't know SAAB was defunct. It may be bygone as a car, but it's still running strong in crosswords, clearly (53A: "Born from jets" automaker). CRESC. is not great fill, though, to its credit, it is much better than "dimin." (which I've never seen in a grid, to my knowledge) (9D: Dimin.'s opposite, in music).
OK, I think I'm gonna peek at the RNC now and see if any part of it is at all watchable. I think I know the answer ... but I can't stay away. It's like a scab I'm compelled to pick.