Journalist Marvin Bernard / SUN 5-12-13 / Blackmore title girl / Automaker since 1899 / Slave whom Amneris was jealous of / Hindu epic hero / Subject of 2002 book Perfect Store / Opposite of alway
Sunday, May 12, 2013
Constructor: David J. Kahn
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: "Simply Put" — a long, convoluted quote about the importance of thinking ahead runs through multiple Across answers (29A: With 44-, 63-, 77- and 93-Across, a long-winded piece of advice => "POTENTIAL CONSEQUENCES / OF A PLAN OR DECISION ONE / CANNOT REVERSE SHOULD BE / HEEDED PRIOR TO THE TIME / AN ACTION IS EFFECTUATED"), while the adage that more neatly encapsulates the sentiment of the quote runs straight Down the middle (24D: This puzzle's long-winded advice, simply put => "LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAP")
Word of the Day: SYD Hoff (71A: Cartoonist Hoff) —
Syd Hoff (September 4, 1912 Bronx, New York – May 12, 2004) was a Jewish-Americancartoonist and children's book author. Although best known for his classic early reader Danny and the Dinosaur, his cartoons appeared in a multitude of genres, including advertising commissions for such companies as Eveready Batteries, Jell-O, OK Used Cars, S.O.S Pads, Rambler, Ralston Cereal and more. (wikipedia)
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TABLEHOPS, STEP ASIDE) and a dash of WTF? (SUETY).
SUETY aside, there's not much junk in this grid, though neither is there much to shout about. You've got your very familiar stuff (e.g. AIDA as [Slave whom Amneris was jealous of] and DOONE as [60A: Blackmore title girl] and OPEL as [Automaker since 1899]), and then just ... stuff. LITTLE TRAMP is a significant bright spot (103A: Charlie Chaplin persona, with "the"). I don't know whoever called a CAMEL ["A horse designed by a committee"] but s/he should win a Pulitzer. I have never read "Nemesis" and had no idea who wrote it, but it didn't matter at all since the terminal "V" and a couple other crosses allowed me to write ASIMOV's name in without ever looking at the clue. My "yay I'm learning" moment came with 39A: Journalist Marvin or Bernard — I still don't know who they are, but for some reason my brain coughed up the K-LB part instantly. I didn't trust it at first (as I often don't trust the things my brain coughs up), but then the crosses panned out. Unsure about whether vowel was "O" (no) or "A" (yes), but, you know, that's what crosses are for. I also somehow remembered RAMA very easily (19A: Hindu epic hero), though honestly I'd much prefer it if it were clued [Lama Ding Dong preceder].
Wanted the opposite of alway to be E'ER, despite the fact that there is nothing "opposite" about E'ER. It's the opposite of opposite, in fact. I hardly think EBAY is the perfect store (86A: Subject of the 2002 book "The Perfect Store"). For one thing, no bathroom. Very inconvenient. I know the place that the Snake River snakes through because it's my mom's home state: IDAHO. Speaking of my mom (segue!) ...
I don't spend a lot of time on this blog talking about my family because their egos are big enough and, really, what do you care? And yet, nearly seven years into this blog and over 43 years into my life, it feels like maybe today would be a good day to thank my mom for ... for ... see, there's a reason I don't do this. To try to express what my mom means to me, what I owe her, it's just too hard. There's too much to say and no words that can adequately get at it without sliding into cliché or sentimentality (which I eschew ... that's a word my mom taught me when I was, oh, 8 or so, I think. That and "tatterdemalion" — no idea what she was thinking there, but the word stuck, so +1 to her for effective vocabulary-building). The best way I can think of to convey how important my mom was (and is) to me is to show you this:
That's me, age 1. But it could've been me age 6 or age 11 or age 2 months. This is what my mom did for me. All the time. Love me. Hold me. Read to me. It was all one thing. One act. And, I mean ... look at that kid's face. He is eating that Dr. Seuss dictionary *up*! He's so enraptured, he doesn't even have the inclination to mock the horrible corduroy couch. As you can see, I was awash in language and love from the get-go. I'm sure it's perfectly ordinary, but it felt (and feels) exceedingly rare.
Everything I know about words, language, literature, all of it, can be traced straight back to my mom. Books, books, everywhere. Bookshelves filled with titles I can still remember, spines with bright colors or patterns that drew me to pull books off the shelf just to make a mess, long before I could ever read any of them. My mom has read more books than I will ever read. She owns more books than I will ever read. She probably read more books last year Than I Will Ever Read. Her vocabulary is far larger than mine. This is not me being humble. These are just facts. Also a fact: she sounds foreign. Like ... that phase Madonna went through where she seemed like she was trying to sound British. My mom has literally (literally) had someone come up to her at an airport, after hearing her speaking voice, and ask her "Are you from somewhere?" (Mom: "Why, yes. Yes I am."). She also cannot pronounce fancy words worth a darn. Huge vocabulary, but whenever she tries to trot it out, she goes into this falling-apart mumble-whisper that my sister and I *looooove* to make fun of. It's like watching a toddler with a full glass of water (did I mention my mom's also a good sport?). And yet—you underestimate her, intellectually, at your peril. She's a dyed-in-the-wool '70s feminist who will *own* you if you give her any sexist bullshit. Also, I wouldn't fuck with her kids if I were you. I've seen the results. Not pretty.
The fact that I can rub two words together, let alone write a complete sentence, I owe almost entirely to her. She's been training me since (literally!) day one. My mom showed me that, in the end (if I may get painfully aphoristic for a second), the most important things in life are pretty simple. I mean, you can buy a lot of things, but you can't buy this:
Well, you can probably buy the cake stand. Check EBAY.