Noted trisyllabic metrist / FRI 1-4-13 / Prelude to War documentarian 1943 / Grass appendages / Zesties maker / Fortune 500 microcomputer firm / 1894 novel whose title character likes to collect fingerprints / French urban network
Friday, January 4, 2013
Constructor: David J. Kahn
Relative difficulty: Medium
Word of the Day: "REPO MEN" (42D: 2010 Jude Law/Forest Whitaker movie) —
Repo Men is a 2010 American-Canadian science fiction action-thriller film directed by Miguel Sapochnik, and starring Jude Law and Forest Whitaker. It is based on the novel The Repossession Mambo by Eric Garcia. [...]
The film received generally negative reviews from critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 22% of 145 critics gave the film a positive review, with an average rating of 4.2 out of 10. Among Rotten Tomatoes' "Top Critics", which consists of popular and notable critics, the film holds an overall approval rating of 22%, based on 27 reviews. The site's general consensus is that "Repo Men has an intriguing premise, as well as a likable pair of leads, but they're wasted on a rote screenplay, indifferent direction, and mind-numbing gore." Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score out of 1–100 reviews from film critics, has a rating score of 32 based on 31 reviews.
Box officeRepo Men opened at #4 in its debut weekend in North America with $6,126,170 in 2,521 theaters, averaging $2,430 per theater. The film eventually grossed $17,805,837 worldwide—$13,794,835 in North America and $4,011,002 in other territories. In July 2010, Parade Magazine listed the film as the #7 on its list of "Biggest Box Office Flops of 2010 (So Far)." (wikipedia)
• • •I was clearly very confused when I began solving this one. I thought it was Thursday, so kept looking for a theme that never came. This is one of the perils of having such a long winter break—I totally lose track of time. Days bleed together. Or maybe my brain absolutely refused to accept yesterday's puzzle as legitimate and so decided *today* would be Thursday instead. Who knows? Also, the fact that the constructor is David J. Kahn only reinforced my certainty that it was a themed puzzle. I can't remember ever doing a themeless by him; he does a lot of tribute puzzles, as well as some very tricky themed puzzles—just not a name I associate with the end-of-week themeless. So I was oddly frustrated by this puzzle for being both tough and inscrutable ... for a Thursday. When I figured out it was actually a Friday, the toughness made sense and the puzzle became highly scrutable and I actually finished in a slightly below-average time.
The 15s are all solid and lovely. Lively. Lovely and lively. Ugly fill is pretty minimal and well spread out. I mean is anyone but me gonna notice there are two phrases ending in "AT" (NIP AT, SET AT) and three ending in "IN" (ONE IN, DO IN, SENT IN)? And if anyone noticed, would anyone care? Probably not. The one answer that made me wince was REHID, but this wincing was an aberration (Although XENONS didn't exactly thrill ...). Mainly, the fill seemed smooth and the cluing clever (if, appropriately tough in parts). I carved up a lot of short stuff before any of the long answers fell. Oddly, I wanted PRESSES THE FLESH (7D: Does street campaigning) very early, but when I started typing it, something must've gone haywire, because my version of the answer didn't quite stretch all the say, so I figured it was wrong. Must've left a letter out somewhere. Finally got MAINSTREAM MEDIA (17A: Target of some political attacks), and that gave me the leverage I needed to work down the grid in fairly methodical fashion.
Started this one with HIDE at 1A: Inveigle, so clearly I don't really know what "inveigle" means (although now that I read the definition, there is deception involved in inveigling, so *something*'s being hidden ...). Threw out HIDE when I got OLAY at 2D: Anti-aging product name. I've never read Twain's "PUDD'NHEAD WILSON" (11D: 1894 novel whose title character likes to collect fingerprints) and know nothing about it, so the clue was no help, but the date, and the fact that I'd heard of the title, were enough to make that one pretty easy to get. Fantastic hard clue on SEUSS (33A: Noted trisyllabic metrist). "Trisyllabic meter" simply means that the every third syllable is stressed. Now, this is not the meter of the two SEUSS works that come most quickly to mind ("One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish" and "Green Eggs and Ham"), but "Yertle the Turtle" and other stuff follows the pattern. Another tough clue on CAPRA; nothing about the clue suggested his name to me (26D: "Prelude to War" documentarian, 1943). As with the clue for "PUDD'NHEAD WILSON," the date probably helped. I've put SØREN in a grid before, so that clue was oddly transparent to me (65A: Danish man's name with a line through the second letter). Interesting French clue for what could've been a simple verb clue at 28D: French urban network (RUES). Never heard of TECHDATA—not the most exciting company name in the world. In fact, about the most generic name possible for a "Fortune 500 microcomputer firm"—which made the answer pretty damned inferrable. Thought Zesties! were crackers, but they are crispy, seasoned French-fried potatoes, and they're made by the crossword-friendly ORE-IDA (49D: Zesties! makers). 53D: Grass appendages had me seeing hula in my head ... the marijuana ... finally the crosswordesey botanical term AWNS came to mind, and that difficult SW corner, as well as the entire puzzle, was done.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld