Pitcher Bedard / FRI 9-21-12 / Hull of Constitution / Greven who wrote 2008 best stiller How to Talk to Girls / Gremlins of 70s / Flavian dynasty ruler / Q7 maker / Much-tattooed people / First character seen in Zelig
Friday, September 21, 2012
Constructor: Barry C. Silk
Relative difficulty: Easy
Word of the Day: ÉRIK Bédard (20A: Pitcher Bedard) [no accent aigu in the clue...?] —
Érik Joseph Bédard ([...] Born March 6, 1979) is a Canadian professional baseball starting pitcher who is currently a free agent. // Bédard previously pitched for the Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners, Boston Red Soxand Pittsburgh Pirates. With Baltimore, he was the staff ace, setting the franchise single-season strikeouts per nine innings record at 10.93 in 2007. On December 7, 2011, the Pittsburgh Pirates signed Bédard to a one-year, $4.5 million contract. He was their 2012 Opening Day Starter. On August 28, 2012, Bédard was released. (wikipedia)
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EELGRASSES will please no one, but besides that and ATTU, I thought this grid was sharp. Doesn't really look like a themeless grid, in that the areas around the margins are all heavily segmented, with lots of 4-letter words. But push in toward the center a bit and things get more open and interesting. Lots of longer answers, all of them intersecting with other longer answers—8s and 9s and 10s all dancing around together, and all of them looking good in the process. Slangy stuff like "IT'S ALL GOOD," BROMANCE (41A: Relative of a man crush), LONG BALL and WIGGLE ROOM makes the grid feel current and light-hearted. For those who buy the ridiculous notion that one can make a list of objectionable crosswordese for *every* puzzle, and that doing so constitutes unfair carping, behold. I see a bunch of commonish answers (there are lots of 4s, after all), but nothing in the krusty krosswordese category except ATTU (49D: 1943 U.S.-vs.-Japan battle site) and perhaps STOA (52A: Classic covered walkway). They're all real words, common words—stuff people might (and do) actually use. You don't see a fresh, topical 4 very often, but I think BAIN qualifies (14A: ___ Capital (investment firm)). First-rate work all around, for sure.
- 20A: Pitcher Bedard (ÉRIK) — wikipedia says he has the accents aigus in his name. Maybe his baseball card says otherwise. Puzzle wasn't very well-timed, Bédard-wise, as he was released by the Pirates just a few weeks ago. It's not like he was ever a very big name (lifetime record of 63-63), but he did pitch in the bigs off and on (mostly on) for a decade, and was Baltimore's ace for a while. Still, this must have been a huge WTF for non- and merely casual baseball fans.
- 25A: Holy higher-ups (PRELATES) — I like clues that read like exclamations Robin would say to Batman.
- 34A: With 11-Down, bugging no end (DRIVING / NUTS) — sweet answer. I was thinking of a totally different meaning for "bugging" (more like "tripping" or "freaking"), but that would probably be more accurately represented as "buggin'"
- 53A: Composition of some orange spheres (CANTALOUPE) — interesting clue. I'm calling foul, since the exterior of a CANTALOUPE is not at all orange, but still ... interesting.
- 58A: Flavian dynasty ruler (TITUS) — though the word "Flavian" means nothing to me, I got this easily (off of T---S). Thanks, Shakespeare. (I know "Titus Andronicus" is completely fictional, but that's still how the name popped into my head)
- 4D: Carver of Hells Canyon (SNAKE RIVER) — my people are Idaho people, so this one was not hard. I'm fairly certain my aunt and uncle used to live in a home overlooking the Snake in Lewiston, ID.
- 34D: 2009 Grammy winner for "Crack a Bottle," briefly (DRE) — Hmmm. I've never heard (or heard of) the song he won a grammy for. I'm mildly surprised by this. Not that the Grammys are now or have, in the past several decades, been relevant, but still: mild surprise.
- 28D: "High Fidelity" star, 2000 (JOHN CUSACK) — I'm reading Michael Chabon's "Telegraph Avenue" right now, which (like "High Fidelity") is centered on a record shop. The comparisons may end there. Not sure. Only a third of the way in. At any rate, love seeing CUSACK's name here (he was the teen (-ish) star I liked most in high school when I was supposed to be liking the Brat Packers). Clue was too easy. Shoulda gone with something like, say, "2012." I feel like I haven't seen CUSACK in movies recently. 2012 (the year) may not have ended the world, but "2012" (the movie) seems to have done something terrible to CUSACK's career. I hope the Mayans were wrong about him and that he eventually returns home to us, safely.