New England town official / SUN 11-16-14 / Actress Normand of silents / Neighbor of Chiapas / Modern name of Mare Mecca / Instruments with flared bells / Byzantine emperor known as philosopher / Tom big role in Purple rose of cairo / Blades that sound like allergic reaction / Cabaret pianist who would make lousy electrician
Sunday, November 16, 2014
Constructor: Andrew Ries
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: "Don't Quit Your Day Job" — theme answers are famous people, clued as people who are bad for certain jobs based on a literal interpretation of their last names:
- WILLIAM HURT (23A: Oscar winner who would make a lousy anesthesiologist?)
- JOHNNY ROTTEN (33A: Punk rocker who would make a lousy grocer?)
- BRAM STOKER (39A: Horror author who would make a lousy firefighter?)
- NICOLAS CAGE (57A: Action star who would make a lousy free-range farmer?)
- GEORGE BURNS (76A: Bygone comic who would make a lousy baker?)
- BOBBY SHORT (90A: Cabaret pianist who would make a lousy electrician?)
- GLORIA ALLRED (97A: Lawyer who would make a lousy anti-Communist leader?)
- STEVIE NICKS (112A: Singer who would make a lousy mohel?)
• • •GRAD PHOTO is very close to a "green paint" answer. Also, the abbreviated "grad" isn't indicated anywhere in the clue. IN A CAST is about as coherent as IN A CAR—it's a very real phrase, but not one you'd hang your hat on. I have no idea what a SELECTMAN is, or what's "New England" about it. Also, SHOE LAST! Yikes. I have forgotten my cobbling terminology! that "A" in LAST was my (… wait for it …) last letter in the grid. While I think the theme is cute, in its way, the answers were mostly very easy to get, and the fun level was middling at best. I endured it more than I enjoyed it.
I didn't enjoy the BUG ZAPPER and the HAPPY MEAL, JUXTAPOSE and CHIME IN ON, and even the made-up-seeming EXHIPPIES. I guess you can slap "EX-" in front of virtually anything and argue for its validity, and HIPPIES is at least vivid and evocative. I think I don't get the dick joke at STEVIE NICKS. The mohel is *supposed* to cut skin, right? Seems like shaving would've been a better way to go here, context-wise. I get that dick jokes are tempting, but this one just seemed inapt.
Are MEME and MEMENTO etymologically related? Seems like it. Also: BOBBY SHORT? I have no idea who that is. I'm listening to him now, and he seems great, but fame-wise, he's an outlier in this grid (in a different browser tab, I'm debating w/ another blogger about who's less well known, him or GLORIA ALLRED…) Anyway, he's light years less famous than MARTIN. I guess BRAM STOKER needed a symmetrical partner really bad. Still, again, with soooooo many potential ways to go with this theme, seems like you could've done better than BOBBY SHORT. By "better," I mean more famous/iconic, the way All the other themers in this puzzle are.
Difficulty level was about average, with the toughest part by far being the place where BOBBY SHORT met the SHOE LAST in and around a random pope and a role (???) in "Purple Rose of Cairo" (BAXTER). Also had some trouble around ALGID + ERNO and LEMAN (?). But all in all, quite doable, perhaps because almost all the themers were super-easy to pick up.