Brightest star in Aquila / THU 6-5-14 / 1990s politico from Texas / Presenter of Borgias in brief / Creature in Rowling's Forbidden Forest / Canal with 36 locks / College named for Norwegian king / Subatomic particle with no electric charge
Thursday, June 5, 2014
Constructor: Ed Sessa
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: LITTLE WOMEN (34A: 1860s novel that is the basis for this puzzle's theme) — rebus puzzle with four squares that contain "Meg" "Amy" "Beth" and "Jo," respectively. [update: someone in Comments suggested the names of the four "Little Women" are literally made "little" to fit into the squares, which adds an interesting dimension to the puzzle that I didn't notice]
Word of the Day: Jackie COOGAN (15A: Jackie who played Uncle Fester) —
John Leslie "Jackie" Coogan (October 26, 1914 – March 1, 1984) was an American actor who began his movie career as a child actor in silent films. Many years later, he became known as Uncle Fester on the 1960s sitcom The Addams Family. In the interim, he sued his mother and stepfather over his squandered film earnings and provoked California to enact the first known legal protection for the earnings of child performers, widely known as the Coogan Act. (wikipedia)
• • •
FOAMY at 5D: Like a freshly drawn draft but it didn't fit). After I got the central theme answer, however, the concept was instantly obvious and so all that was left to do was hunt down the girls (so to speak). Knowing the theme made solving every corner Much easier than it might've been otherwise. I finished in under 5, even though I decided to take the extra time and enter the girls' names in their entirety (rather than just the first letter, which is all that my solving software generally requires). There were no odd or mysterious names or words in the grid, so the whole grid just toppled rather easily. I've never heard of GLEN Canyon Dam, but I got it all easily from crosses. Everything else—familiar. EDERLE might be new to some people, but she's swum her way across enough crosswords that I know who she is by now (12D: Gertrude who swam the English Channel).
COOGAN. I say "ironically" because
- I did a ton of research in 1923 newspapers last summer and COOGAN, a Huge silent film star, was all over the movie sections. One of the highest-earning stars on his age. I saw his mug a lot.
- His name is on not one but two framed movie posters that hang in my house—one for "The Beat Generation" starring Mamie Van Doren, the other for "The Big Operator" starring Mickey Rooney and Mamie Van Doren.
- I picked up a book of Chas. Addams cartoons from the public library just last week and put it in the bathroom (where it still is) in hopes that my daughter would find it / read it / like it (she did).
I had no idea, none, that the famous child actor / silent film star played Uncle Fester in "The Addams Family." It's a disconcerting notion if you've ever seen adorable little Jackie Coogan. Here, see?:
Little Jackie Coogan:
OSTEAL is not a word I see ever (44D: Pertaining to bone), but then I'm not in the bone business, and anyway, it was totally inferable. This seemed overall like a very solidly put-together puzzle. Light, enjoyable Thursday fare.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld