Kennedy aide Sorensen / TUE 6-17-14 / Beginning end of Athena / Kabayaki fish / Swordsman of book film / 2010 James Mangold action comedy / 2012 John C. Reilly animated film
Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Constructor: Zhouquin Burnikel
Relative difficulty: Medium to Medium-Challenging (for a Tuesday)
THEME: SILENT (69A: ___ movies (8-, 20-, 39- and 57-Across, in a way)— first letters of all the movies are silent:
- PSYCHO (8A: 1960 Alfred Hitchcock thriller)
- WRECK-IT RALPH (20A: 2012 John C. Reilly animated film)
- DJANGO UNCHAINED (39A: 2012 Quentin Tarantino western)
- KNIGHT AND DAY (57A: 2010 James Mangold action comedy)
Word of the Day: George MEADE (27D: General at Gettysburg) —
George Gordon Meade (December 31, 1815 – November 6, 1872) was a career United States Armyofficer and civil engineer involved in coastal construction, including several lighthouses. He fought with distinction in the Second Seminole War and the Mexican-American War. During the American Civil War he served as a Union general, rising from command of a brigade to the Army of the Potomac. He is best known for defeating Confederate General Robert E. Lee at the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863.
• • •
COAT TREE (41D: Front hallway item), a term I never encounter. I had RACK, of course, which is a term I *do* encounter. Then when that proved wrong, I had nothing there for a bit. Really, really could've used tail end of that answer to get into that southern section, as the [Rice on a shelf] clue (ANNE) was wicked for a Tuesday, as was [Jet fighter?] (SHARK), and that movie down there, "KNIGHT AND DAY"??? …. WTF? What is a "James Mangold"? Also, what is that movie? Besides the worst and more tiresome pun ever? Here is the theme's one big flaw—that movie is a super-outlier, fame-wise. All the others are Academy Award-nominated movies. This one: isn't. Holy crap, I just looked this movie up—Mangold is a director (?!), and this movie starred … Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz!?!? Was this a hit? 'Cause it *really* got by me. Wikipedia says box office was $260 million worldwide. I have no idea what those numbers mean anymore.
I would never in a million years have thought to clue "WRECK-IT RALPH" as a [2012 John C. Reilly animated film]. I'd've gone with a general description of the film for the clue—animated films aren't as readily identifiable by the actors as regular films are, and anyway, it's not like you'd have ruined theme cluing consistency, as this clue is *already* the outlier (all the other theme answers being clued by their directors).
- 68A: Arabic name meaning "high" (ALI) — had the "A" and wrote in AGA … then ALY. … never mind that those are not Arabic terms. The middle eastern-ness plus the "A" plus "high" triggered some spontaneous crosswordese reaction in me that I was powerless to stop.
- 66A: Knitted item for a baby (BOOTIE) — had trouble here, both because I feel like this word sometimes gets spelled differently in puzzles (namely as BOOTEE) and also because my first stab was ONESIE.
- 1D: Beginning or end of "Athena" (SCHWA) — another Tuesday toughie. Needed many crosses to get this one. With another answer that often befuddles me, PRE-K, I lucked out, as I had both the "P" and the "K" before I ever saw the clue.