Old-time actress Meadows / THU 1-16-14 / For whom Alfred Pennyworth is butler / Glass Menagerie woman / Wheel with sloped teeth / Roman rebuke / Cartoonist who said I don't read watch TV to get ideas My work is basically sitting down at drawing table getting silly
Thursday, January 16, 2014
Constructor: Elizabeth A. Long
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
Word of the Day: JAYNE Meadows (48D: Old-time actress Meadows) —
(born September 27, 1919 in Wuchang, China) is an American stage, film and television actress, as well as an author and lecturer. // Meadows' most famous movies include: Undercurrent (with Katharine Hepburn), Song of the Thin Man (with William Powell and Myrna Loy), David and Bathsheba (with Gregory Peck, Susan Hayward and Raymond Massey), Lady in the Lake (with Robert Montgomery and Audrey Totter), Enchantment (with David Niven and Teresa Wright), andCity Slickers (as the voice of Billy Crystal's oversolicitous mother). Among her earliest television appearances, Meadows played reporter Helen Brady in a 1953 episode of Suspense opposite Walter Matthau entitled, "F.O.B. Vienna."
She was a regular panelist on the original version of I've Got a Secret and an occasional panelist on What's My Line?, the latter alongside husband Steve Allen. She also appeared on the NBC interview program Here's Hollywood. During the early days of the burgeoning live entertainment scene in Las Vegas, the Allens occasionally worked together as an act. Prior to Allen's death in 2000, the couple made several TV appearances together - in 1998 they played an argumentative elderly couple in an episode of the TV series Homicide: Life on the Street (based on the hypothetical Ronald Opus case) in which Allen's character accidentally shoots a suiciding man as he is plunging from the roof of their building. In 1999 they made their last joint TV appearance (again playing a couple) in the all-star episode of the Dick Van Dyke series Diagnosis: Murder, entitled "The Roast", which marked Allen's final screen appearance during his lifetime. Meadows has also been active in Republican affairs although Steve Allen was a Democrat. She is the recipient of several Doctor of Humane Letters degrees from various universities. (wikipedia)
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DOTTED I … I have to say that it's not a thing. You dot your "i"s, sure, but you say "lowercase i" not DOTTED I. It's just not tight, as a phrase, and when I saw [Lowercase letter…] in the clue, all I could think of was, "What?" A letter is a letter. A lowercase letter is a lowercase letter. What the hell answer could it be? Is DOTTED J a thing? It follows the same logic. What exactly is an "undotted i"? It doesn't exist. So, a DOTTED I is … an I. A lowercase "i." If it is lowercase, then it is dotted—so you would never call it "dotted" because its lowercaseness makes that a given. There's just something about the phrase DOTTED I, and the way it was clued, that sat very poorly with me.
Also, the cluing. It was what I would call Newsday cluing. Now, I love the Newsday "Saturday Stumper," but too often difficulty is achieved in that puzzle via ambiguous one- or two-word phrases. Not imaginative; just vague. There just wasn't much cleverness or playfulness in the cluing here. It was all [Turn], [Lead], [Grasped], [Coll. units], so the puzzle ended up being kind of a drag to work through. ANECDOTE is [Speaker's aid]? That is so forced, it hurts. An ANECDOTE *is* speech. The speaker is speaking when telling an ANECDOTE. I get that it somehow "aids" you in getting your point across, maybe, but that clue seems tenuous. [First of all] should have a question mark for sure. SCH., however, *doesn't* need "Abbr." because the "Tech" in the clue is already an abbreviation (27D: Tech, e.g.). Other difficulties came from stuff I just didn't know, or stuff that looked weird. AMANDA? (16A: "The Glass Menagerie" woman). No. CANOEIST? (17A: Paddle pusher). I'm sure that's right, but spelling-wise, I was having trouble buying it. UNBELT? (42A: Start to take off one's pants, say). I got that easily enough, actually, but until *all* the crosses checked out, I wasn't sure (credit to the clue, though, which is by far the most interesting of the day). DOT over I is a cute concept, but I think it needed a different revealer, and the cluing overall just needed to be more interesting/better/tighter. Good idea, wobbly execution.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld