Ximenez dessert sherry / FRI 11-8-13 / Kalahari Desert dweller / African city whose name means haven of peace / Eatery where Tony Award was born / California city near Fullerton / Opening line of 1966 #1 Beatles hit / Clement with two Oscar-winning films
Friday, November 8, 2013
Constructor: Alan Arbesfeld
Relative difficulty: Medium
Word of the Day: RENÉ Clément (53D: Clément with two Oscar-winning films) —
(French pronunciation: [klemɑ̃]; March 18, 1913 – March 17, 1996) was a French film director and screenwriter. […] Clément studied architecture at the École des Beaux-Arts where he developed an interest in filmmaking. In 1936, he directed his first film, a 20 minute short written by and featuring Jacques Tati. Clément spent the latter part of the 1930s making documentaries in parts of the Middle East and Africa. In 1937, he and archaeologist Jules Barthou were in Yemen making preparations to film a documentary, the first ever of that country and one that includes the only known film image of Imam Yahya. // Almost ten years passed before Clément directed a feature but his French Resistance film, La Bataille du rail (1945), gained much critical and commercial success. From there Clément became one of his country's most successful and respected directors, garnering numerous awards including two films that won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, the first in 1950 for The Walls of Malapaga (Au-delà des grilles) and the second time two years later for Forbidden Games (Jeux interdits). Clément had international success with several films but his star-studded 1966 epic Is Paris Burning?, written by Gore Vidal and Francis Ford Coppola and produced by Paul Graetz was a costly box office failure. (wikipedia)
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NO NOISE really tore it. What is that? How is that acceptable? What's next? [Darkness] = NO LIGHT. [Decapitation] = NO HEAD. That answer is about the most made-up non-thing I've ever seen in a puzzle. The long stuff across the top and bottom is all clean enough, and SCHNOOKS is certainly a colorful answer. But there's a preponderance of short junk (INF, RTS, KNT, SRO, OYE, BREA, TAMA, ETAS, ASDF, EFS, etc.) and just a hell of a lot of common letters. Top and bottom answers alone (DAR ES SALAAM / ESTATE SALES) are somewhat absurd in terms of how loaded they are w/ the most common letters in the alphabet. And then there's ERTES, and ARETES, and PRESSESON … there's just not enough flash here for a Friday. Two RE- words. Two -TO phrases. Three SEEs. Two BEITs. That's a lot of replication. The end product is just OK. Mediocrity plus dated feel made it a disappointing solve for me.
Initial wrong answers really held me back today. STAMEN for ANTHER (which, honestly, is a word I don't know—seen it, couldn't define it). Worse, in terms of consequences—GETAT for EATAT. Really should've gone with the more common EATAT, esp. given this puzzle's propensity for including the most common letters. Anyway, STAMEN and GET AT were enough to keep me stuck longer than I should've been in the north. I wandered all over the top half of this grid before I had any solid, sustained progress. Could think only of the phrase WHAT'S THE BIG IDEA?, so DEAL was oddly slow in coming. [Pair of boxers?] is such a painful clue for ARF ARF, I don't even know where to start. Pair of ["words" that might be "said" by dogs, such as] boxers? Convoluted. But no matter. Bottom half proved way easier than the top. Finished over in ARF ARF land, somewhat (but not that much) slower than my typical Friday time.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld