Band with 1974 #1 hit Night Chicago Died / SUN 5-18-14 / Jai alai basket / Orphic hymn charmer / Tony-winningn actress Judith / Like some bands with only modest Western popularity / Canadian blockhead / She married Bobby on Sopranos
Sunday, May 18, 2014
Constructor: Joe DiPietro
Relative difficulty: Medium
- ANGIE O'GRAM
- WILL O'TREES
- JEAN O'TYPING
- COREY O'GRAPH
- PATTY O'FURNITURE
- NATE O'SUMMIT
- JUNE O'ALASKA
- MAE O'CLINIC
- MEL O'YELLOW
The pith helmet (also known as the safari helmet, sun helmet, TOPEE, sola topee,salacot or topi) is a lightweight cloth-covered helmet made of cork or pith, typically pith from the sola, Aeschynomene aspera, an Indian swamp plant, or A. paludosa, or a similar plant. Designed to shade the wearer's head and face from the sun, pith helmets were often worn by people of European origin in the tropics, but have also been used in other contexts. (wikipedia)
• • •WILL O'TREES, MAE O'CLINIC, JUNE O'ALASKA, PATTY O'FURNITURE—none of their clues yank you away from the milieu of the base answer, whereas the clues on answers like ANGIE O'GRAM and NATE O'SUMMIT at least try (however awkwardly). Further further, this is airing 2 months and 1 day late why? Why? No, seriously, why? Few puzzles scream "St. Patrick's Day" more than this one, and while I doubt the Irish would've been "honored" by this rather clunky offering, at least it would've made Some kind of sense. Odd editorial decision. I'd say "glaring editorial error," but I'm reserving that phrase for when I point out that ALAI is in the grid *and* (head-shakingly, dumbfoundingly) in the clue for CESTA (19D: Jai alai basket). Did you know Chou EN-LAI played Jai ALAI professionally? He didn't. I'm just making up facts to entertain myself now.
Oh, the fill. It was supercalifragilisticexpial-atrocious. Actually, I've probably seen worse, but not much worse. Just stunning that we're enduring Var. spellings of a word that's Already crosswordese (SAREEEEEE), and then apparently discovering vast new stores of crosswordese under Mt. Pith Helmet (TOPEE, which can also be spelled TOPI, or perhaps you want the full SOLA TOPEE; I hear pith helmets are making a comeback, so all these answers may prove useful). CARNAP!? I'm literally laughing at that answer. Are you holding the car for ransom??? [Steal, as a vehicle]. That clue is amazing. "Oh … as a vehicle. They must mean CARNAP," said no one. I just learned that Rudolf CARNAP was a person who lived once. A 20th-century German-born philosopher. Read about him here. My favorite answer in the grid was BIG IN JAPAN, but only because it reminded me of college.
Puzzle of the Week contenders included dueling gorgeous themelesses from sometime collaborators Brad Wilber (yesterday's NYT) and Doug Peterson (yesterday's Newsday Stumper). They are probably my favorite themeless constructors at the moment, so having two of their puzzles come out on the same day was like Cruciverbial Christmas for me. Friday's WSJ puzzle (by Pancho Harrison) was as good as it's been in a good long while—it featured a nifty little "Schrödinger"-type gimmick with PRO and CON occupying the same square (PROs for the Acrosses, CONs for the Downs) (read about it here). But the honors this week go to a truly clever, multi-layered theme puzzle by Ben Tausig called "Click Language." Won't give away the gimmick so you can solve it yourself (get it here) (or click here for .puz file) (read about it here). It's a wonderful theme with snazzy fill to boot. Go do it.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld