Tec group in old France / THU 1-31-13 / Trumpet blares / Turkey chicken dish served cold / Threaded across down / Trademarked Intel chip / Toon/live action film of 1996 / Titan booster
Thursday, January 31, 2013
Constructor: Mike Buckley
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: T-SHAPES (23D: This puzzle's theme)— black squares form a bunch of Ts. Also (and I assume this is part of the "theme," even though this is in no way related to "shapes"), the homophones TEAS, TEASE, and TEES are running across the center of the grid. Also, all clues start with "T."
Word of the Day: GALANTINE (27D: Turkey or chicken dish served cold) —
A galantine is a French dish of de-boned stuffed meat, most commonly poultry or fish, that is poached and served cold, coated withaspic. Galantines are often stuffed with forcemeat, and pressed into a cylindrical shape. Since deboning poultry is thought of as difficult and time-consuming, this is a rather elaborate dish, which is often lavishly decorated, hence its name, connoting a presentation at table that is galant, or urbane and sophisticated. In the later nineteenth century the technique's origin was already attributed to the chef of the marquis de Brancas. The preparation is not always luxurious: Evelyn Waugh in his novel Men at Arms mentions "a kind of drab galantine which Guy seemed to remember, but without relish, from his school-days during the First World War". (wikipedia)
Yikes. This week has been pretty dire. First, black squares are not a "theme." They are a curiosity, at best. So, we have essentially one line, 13 squares, of true theme material here. Beyond that, we have a painful themeless. Painful, and also comical, since it Perfectly illustrates the folly of the pangram. Multiple ENEROS! Multiple SINES! Something called a FARON (21A: "This Little Girl of Mine" country singer ___ Young) and a GALANTINE (27D: Turkey or chicken dish served cold) and an OUTGO (one word?) (45A: Tide's ebb, e.g.). That OUTGO section was nearly a complete deal-breaker for me. HSN? I barely know it exists. TANTARAS? I ... don't even ... know (34D: Trumpet blares). SURETÉ!? If I weren't a longtime solver with a somewhat decent memory, then uh uh, no way (43D: Tec group in old France). Terri GIBBS? Same thing. I know her only from clues for TERRI (46D: Terri with the 1980 country hit "Somebody's Knockin'"). Partial O SOLE! Brilliant! (I'm actually grateful for that one, as I needed the gimme pretty bad). WAHR! (28A: True: Ger.) And what is all this [fill-in-the-blank] fill in service of? Nothing. Buncha black squares and a single line of true "theme" material. Making every clue start with "T"—a late attempt to deepen the "theme," I'm guessing—really only makes matter worse. With great fill, that gimmick works. Without ... now you're just torturing folks. NETLIKE! (48A: Threaded across and down) It's like a net, only ... not? Who knows? I give up.
- 1A: Toon/live action film of 1996 ("SPACE JAM") — starring Michael Jordan. I forgot this existed. Not an original answer, but a nice one.
- 17A: "Three Sisters" playwright Chekhov (ANTON) — made things much harder on myself by misreading this clue as asking for a sister's name.
- 19A: Trademarked Intel chip (CELERON) — no idea. Or, rather, no idea until I had -ELERON. Then something clicked. Little Late!
- 3D: Titan booster (AGENA) — never heard of it or seen it outside crosswords. Crosswordese of a pretty high order.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld