Blood of Greek gods / SUN 4-28-13 / Bygone Chevy van / 1976 album with palindromic title / Sci-fi author del Rey / Author media observer Michael / One-named singing star with surname Adkins / Historic multistory dwellings / Cowpoke moniker
Sunday, April 28, 2013
Constructor: Patrick Berry
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: "Soft T's" — "T" sound changed to "TH" sound in familiar phrases, resulting in wacky phrases, clued "?"-wise.
- 23A: What faking a stomachache might entail? (CREATIVE WRITHING)
- 30A: Gun belts, holsters and nightstick straps? (THE LEATHER OF THE LAW)
- 45A: Dismounts like an expert gymnast? (GETS OFF LITHELY)
- 66A: Women's pants with pictures of woodshop tools (LATHE BLOOMERS) — winner of Most Preposterous Theme Answer Concept award ... not necessarily a bad award to win.
- 86A: Become a new person by washing up? (BATHE AND SWITCH)
- 95A: Unpopular ophthalmologist's implement (A SCYTHE FOR SORE EYES)
- 108A: What the giggling supporter of the Salem witch trials was told? ("NO LAUGHING, MATHER")
Lester del Rey (June 2, 1915 – May 10, 1993) was an American science fiction author and editor. He was the author of many books in the juvenile Winston Science Fiction series, and the editor at Del Rey Books, the fantasy and science fiction imprint of Ballantine Books, along with his fourth wife Judy-Lynn del Rey. [...] In 1957, del Rey and Damon Knight co-edited a small amateur magazine named Science Fiction Forum. During a debate about symbolism within the magazine, del Rey accepted Knight's challenge to write an analysis of the James Blish story "Common Time" that showed the story was about a man eating a ham sandwich. // Del Rey was most successful editing with his fourth wife, Judy-Lynn del Rey, at Ballantine Books (as a Random House property, post-Ballantine) where they established the fantasy and science fiction imprint Del Rey Books in 1977. After science fiction gained respectability and began to be taught in classrooms, del Rey stated that academics interested in the genre should "get out of my Ghetto." Del Rey stated that "to develop science fiction had to remove itself from the usual critics who viewed it from the perspective of [the] mainstream, and who judged its worth largely on its mainstream values. As part of that mainstream, it would never have had the freedom to make the choices it did – many of them quite possibly wrong, but necessary for its development." (wikipedia)
• • •While I don't really understand the title of this puzzle (a play on the word "softies?"), I enjoyed it well enough. One of my editor / proofreader friends suggested to me that the puzzle should not have WRITE in it when it has a play on the word "writing" in the first theme answer, and that may be true, but I didn't notice, and I doubt most others will either, so no harm no foul as far as I'm concerned. Theme answers are all solid and mostly funny. I especially love A SCYTHE FOR SORE EYES, esp. as (understatedly) clued ("unpopular," haha). Caleb and I did a Sunday puzzle last year that used a very similar theme concept, though ours had nothing to do with "T" per se. Just the addition of a "TH" sound to the ends of words (sigh => scythe, Rye => writhe, etc.). Not sure why we didn't use bay => bathe. BATHE LEAVES might've worked. But I digress. This is a well built grid—though the theme is fairly light, there's lots of opportunity for interesting fill throughout the grid because it's been built with so many different banks of 7+-letter answers. This also made it hard to fly around the grid. I kept getting stuck trying to move out of one section and into another, and kept having to reboot. But in the end, there was only one place that threatened to derail me—the very last squares I filled in at the bottom of the grid. Never heard of Bond villain ERNST Stavro Blofeld, never heard of Thomas BERGER (94D: Thomas who wrote "Little Big Man"), and never seen the word TRIOXIDE (to my knowledge) (120A: Arsenic ___ (ratsbane)). Luckily for me TRIOXIDE was totally inferrable, and so the scary unknown proper nouns became plausible-looking names, and bam, Mr. Happy Pencil showed up, and I was done.
ERNST and BERGER, I was baffled by WOLFF (80A: Author/media observer Michael), and (to a lesser extent) HESS (34D: Physiology Nobelist Walter Rudolf ___). On the other hand, I was able to uncover TESH pretty easily (72D: "Music in the Key of Love" composer), aADELE (8D: One-named singing star with the surname Adkins), MITCH Gaylord (68D: Gymnast Gaylord), and LESTER del Rey were all gimmes. Had real issues with CAP'N JESU there in the center-left part of the grid (54A: "___ Andy's Ballyhoo" ("Show Boat" song) + 62A: Bach's "___, meine Freude"). Not at all familiar with the "Show Boat" soundtrack, or with any Bach track that begins "JESU" and does not end "Joy of Man's Desiring." Sorted it all out once I got PUEBLOS (55D: Historic multistory dwellings). I always thought Maya LIN was an architect (43A: Architectural designer Maya). What's the difference between an architect and an architectural designer? Is it that you can't actually dwell inside the stuff she builds? She's probably most famous for the Vietnam War Memorial. Last thing I saw that she did involved massive designs called "earthworks"; hey, there's one in Ann Arbor. Installed while I was there. I had no idea.
My HONKS were HORNS at first (31D: Rush-hour din). Otherwise, no real gaffes. I liked the clue at 79D: Bygone Chevy van (ASTRO), both because I knew it, and because the phrase "Chevy van" always makes me think of this enjoyably silly '70s song.
Have a Chevy-van Sunday.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld