Shelter dug into hillside / FRI 7-5-13 / Cornish knight of Round Table / Jet wing warning / Bud of Nancy / I Ching figures / Ghost character Brown / 1980s TV outfit / Epithet for computer whiz
Friday, July 5, 2013
Constructor: Paula Gamache
Relative difficulty: Challenging
THEME: no — if it had run yesterday, maybe
Word of the Day: TAMLA (26D: Record label for the Miracles and Stevie Wonder) —
Motown is an American record company founded by Berry Gordy, Jr. in 1959 in Detroit, Michigan in the United States. The name, a portmanteau of motor and town, is also a nickname for Detroit. Motown played an important role in the racial integrationof popular music by achieving a crossover success. In the 1960s, Motown and its soul-based subsidiaries were the most successful proponents of what came to be known as "The Motown Sound", a style of soul music with a distinct pop influence.Gordy originally set up two nominally-separate labels (Tamla Records and Motown Records) in 1959, in order to avoid accusations of payola should DJs play too many records from one label. The two labels featured the same writers, producers and artists, and they were both formally incorporated together as Motown Record Corporation (commonly referred to simply as "Motown") on April 14, 1960. (wikipedia—TAMLA does not even have its own wikipedia entry)
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What an almost-timely puzzle!
If you love Roman numerals, have I got a puzzle for you. This one!
Clearly I am historically / numerically / music label-ly challenged, because I have never and/or barely heard of TAMLA and I had TAMCA, which put me 50 years too late on the Statue of Liberty date. O well. I knew I had an error, and I just figured it *had* to be MESIAL. First of all ... MESIAL? Look at it. Keep looking. Keep looking. It's messed up, right? That's not a word, it's a typo. Allow me to elaborate—here is the clue for MESIAL:
41A: Situated near the middle line of the body
Now here is a dictionary definition of MEDIAL:
"Situated toward the median plane or midline of the body or a structure."
MESIAL, I spent several seconds wondering how LODEFACE could be a thing (37D: Eat crow). Sigh. Even before the error, I was thinking that this is a below average themeless—I now see that it isn't really a themeless at all, though neither is it themed. It's stuck in a kind of no-man's land. Fill is not strong enough to support a themeless. The entire puzzle is built around that central answer, which is manifestly terrible on its own (Roman numerals?!), but is possibly redeemable if it's in the service of a theme. Only there's no theme. I could keep going around in circles like this, but I won't. I will say that I quite enjoyed the NE corner (IHRE and NO STEP notwithstanding), and the long Downs toward the middle are not bad at all. NW and SE corners are just so-so. Never heard of the WASATCH Range, but I'm probably in the minority there. My only Utah range is UINTA, and my geographical knowledge has never been terribly strong. As for OTTO II, he's pushing his luck in this puzzle—we've got quite enough Roman numerals already, buddy. Thanks but no thanks.
Hurray for the IKETTES (61A: Turner backers), but I feel bad for them, buried under the uber-ridiculousness that is the ABRI (!?) / RECURVE (!?!?) junction (51D: Shelter dug into a hillside / 59A: Bend backward). Owch. Double-over-and-grimace-in-pain Owch.
Ironically, it took me Forever to get 17A: What a blog provides (SOAP BOX). You have no idea how much I love this clue. I am quite sincere when I say it fills my heart with joy.
TRISTAN ("Tristram" in Malory) was fresh on my mind (18A: Cornish knight of the Round Table). This may be the first time AGFA didn't trip me up. I recently complained about never remembering AGFA—and so, of course, this time, I did. [Bud of Nancy] is brilliantly insidious cluing for AMI (Nancy is a city in France). Can't say I like ODA MAE any more than I normally like seeing ODA (or MAE) (20A: "Ghost" character Brown). Went looking for the French word for "ATM" at 23A: Euro dispenser (BANCO). That BANCO / COTY / TABOO part came very, very late in the game. Couldn't remember what kind of -grams were ["I Ching" figures]. Finally guessing HEXA- was the thing that finally allowed me to see SOAPBOX. Really wish DR. T could've been MR. T, seeing as how it's sitting on top of "THE A-TEAM" and all (31A: 1980s TV outfit).* But MEVAL isn't a thing. And yet somehow MESIAL is. What a world.
*Note: "TV" probably shouldn't appear in a clue, since it's also part of an answer in the puzzle—PLASMA TV—but we'll just overlook that.