Lee of silent films / FRI 4-26-13 / No-handed skateboarding trick / Marshal Dillon portrayer / Band leader of 1960s / 1985 Dennis Quaid sci-fi film
Friday, April 26, 2013
Constructor: Michael Ashley
Relative difficulty: Easy
Word of the Day: LILA Lee (11D: Lee of silent films) —
Lila Lee (July 25, 1901 – November 13, 1973) was a prominent screen actress of the early silent film era. [...] In 1918, she was chosen for a film contract by Hollywood film mogul Jesse Lasky for Famous Players-Lasky Corporation, which later became Paramount Pictures. Her first feature The Cruise of the Make-Believes garnered the seventeen-year-old starlet much public acclaim and Lasky quickly sent Lee on an arduous publicity campaign. Critics lauded Lila for her wholesome persona and sympathetic character parts. Lee quickly rose to the ranks of leading lady and often starred opposite such matinee heavies as Conrad Nagel, Gloria Swanson, Wallace Reid, Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle, and Rudolph Valentino.
In 1922 Lee was cast as Carmen in the enormously popular film Blood and Sand, opposite matinee idol Rudolph Valentino and silent screen vamp Nita Naldi; Lee subsequently won the first WAMPAS Baby Stars award that year. Lee continued to be a highly popular leading lady throughout the 1920s and made scores of critically praised and widely watched films. (wikipedia)
• • •LILA Lee) I somehow managed to work around. Weirdly, unlike every other time I've encountered him in my solving history, James ARNESS *helped* me today (3D: Marshal Dillon portrayer). I remembered this name, and he solved my E/A problem at RIELS (19A: Cash in Cambodia). Never saw "The Book of Eli," but know very well who MILA KUNIS is (51A: "The Book of Eli" actress). Don't remember much about "Enemy Mine" except that Louis Gossett Jr. is in it. But I did remember it. Thought of about half a dozen names that could go in 1A: Onetime co-host of "The View," but it turns out I'd completely forgotten about STAR JONES. Seems like a decade since I've heard her name. But, once again, her name was in the database (i.e. my brain), and so the "J" from JAMS alone was enough to get her out onto the grid. Only had two moments of struggle in the puzzle, and they were both brief. Got worried that I wouldn't get into the SW corner—having first two letters of those longer Acrosses didn't dislodge anything. Had to reboot deeper in that corner with SKYE and SRTAS, but then it all came together. Had another brief scare up in the NE, where I finished. Did not know ASH CAKES (though I eventually guessed it once I got the "K") (20A: Some cornbreads), and initially botched two of those three longer Downs. Specifically, went with FLIED OUT and READ ONLY instead of the correct SKIED OUT (?) and EYES ONLY. But the "K" from ALL KINDS gave me ASH CAKES gave me BMOCS (10D: Quad standouts). Then OLLIE was kind of a gimme (18A: No-handed skateboarding trick), and I pieced things together from there. All told, just over 6 minutes of work. As I say, Easy.
This is a very clean grid, as it should be—it's the maximum word count for themelesses (72), and generally, the higher the word count, the easier the grid is to fill cleanly. There's nothing here that really blows me away or makes me laugh or otherwise stands out as fantastic, but the net effect is good—bouncy answers from a wide variety of knowledge bases, a contemporary feel, and a bare minimum of junk. My one big stupid error of the day was dropping TASMANIA off the TA- at 33D: Land on the Indian Ocean (TANZANIA). For the record, TASMANIA is not "on the India Ocean," but in the heat of the moment, after having dropped the other two long Downs in that corner off just *their* first two letters, TASMANIA felt right. Ballparkish. Wrong, ultimately. But very fixable.
- 30A: "Forever Your Girl" singer, 1989 (ABDUL) — as in Paula. You may know her only as a former judge on "American Idol." I know her as the singer whose songs *dominated* the charts when I was in college. I have a soft spot for the "Forever Your Girl" album.
- 46A: It might be spun around a campfire (TALE) — just finished (re-)reading Charles Burns' "Black Hole," which is a dark comic about adolescence and isolation and contagion. Anyway, there are kids and campfires and an overall slasher-film vibe in many parts of the comic. It is very much worth reading.
- 57A: "Band" leader of the 1960s (SGT. PEPPER) — should've gotten this much more quickly (given that I had the SG- beginning), but I was thinking the "Band" was in quotes because it wasn't a musical band, but some other metaphorical kind of band. SGT. SNORKEL came to mind. I think that's from "Beetle Bailey." And doesn't fit.