Pigskin stitching / WED 9-26-12 / Morgantown's locale / Curiosity's launcher / Country mentioned in Sinatra's Come Fly with Me / Scored in 80s / Online honcho
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Constructor: Peter A. Collins
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: FIELD / GOALS (35A: With 37-Across, events described by 23-/44-Across)— featuring the phrase "THE KICK IS UP / AND IT IS GOOD!"—a reasonably common football ANNOUNCER phrase. FIELD GOALS are always taken from within the HASHMARKS on either side of the field, with the position depending on where the prior play ended.
Word of the Day: HASHMARKS (32D: They appear at one-yard intervals) —
1. A service stripe on the sleeve of an enlisted person's uniform.2. Football A mark in either of two series placed on the field perpendicular to the yard lines and used for spotting the ball. (freedictionary.com)
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ANNOUNCER will indeed say the phrase "THE KICK IS UP / AND IT IS GOOD"; I think I've heard the contraction "IT'S" more often than "IT IS," but that's hardly a disqualification. Circled letters spell "football" and are form a reasonable visual approximation thereof. FIELD GOALS are taken within the HASHMARKS ... seems pretty tight, for what it is. I will never understand the clue on XXX, which isn't accurate in any way. That *must* have been changed. The original clue *must* have referenced PORNO (51A: Flick not shown on network TV), first because that's such a perfect opportunity for cross-referencing, and second because, well, the clue is literally nonsensical. As you can see from the picture, [Pigskin stitching] has zero in common with XXX. But if you just leave it alone, and don't call attention to it, no one's going to question what the Xs are. They're clearly meant to represent the stitches. Close enough for horseshoes and hand grenades, NOT close enough for a specific clue.
One last weird thing with the theme. GLADIATORS (9D: Lions' foes) looks like a theme answer—football players are certainly referred to using this kind of high-falutin' language all the time. But while football players may be called GLADIATORS in some contexts, rarely are they also called OIL PAINTERs (26D: Manet or Monet). So I'll just consider GLADIATORS an unintentional "bonus" theme answer and not worry too much about the symmetry issues there.
I have no idea how SOLIDS works for 43D: Pool side. None. But again, it's early, my brain may just not be completely warm yet. Oh ... stripes and SOLIDS. OK. Brain's back online now.
SLASH (43A: One of two on a short date?). Really had to focus on it because of my problem understanding SOLIDS (the first "S" cross on SLASH). I'll be grading my first sets of papers next week, so the Strunk & White dictum feels relevant (56A: Adhering to Strunk and White's advice "Omit needless words"). First papers tend to be loaded with air—like when you open a big potato chip bag and there's really only about two fistfuls of potato chips in here, and most of those are broken, and kind of greasy, and you know you really shouldn't be eating this *&$% 'cause it's not good but somehow you are compelled. Like that. I've never seen/heard of SYSOPs outside of crosswords, but I am confident that they exist (12D: Online honcho). I thought that an APE was [Probably not Mr. Right]. I stand by that thought, even though it was not helpful here. I recently watched a movie called "Making Mr. Right" with John Malkovich as both a scientist and an android. It wasn't that great, except for the parts with Laurie Metcalf and Glenne Headly, both of whom I adore. Hey, Headly was married to Malkovich during making of "Making Mr. Right." Trivia! Speaking of the '80s. I had no idea what to do with [Scored in the 80s] at first (GOT A B). I tried thinking of specifically '80s sex slang, but no dice.
Only part of "Come Fly With Me" I can remember is the title and the subsequent "let's fly away!" so I'll let Frank play us out. Good day.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld