Lakers commentator Lantz / SAT 12-13-14 / Mackerel variety on Hawaiian menus / 1958 #1 hit whose only lyric is its title word / Title girl in literature's Prairie Trilogy / Fashion designer Knowles mother of Beyoncé / Anderson of sitcomdom / Kebabs sold curbside
Saturday, December 13, 2014
Constructor: James Mulhern and Ashton Anderson
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
Word of the Day: Langston Hughes's "CORA Unashamed" (6D) —
is a collection of short stories by Langston Hughes, published in 1934. Hughes wrote the book during a year he spent living in Carmel, California. The collection, "marked by pessimism about race relations, as well as a sardonic realism," is among his best known works. Like Chesnutt's The Conjure Woman (1899) and Wright's Uncle Tom's Children (1938), it is an example of a short story cycle. […] David Herbert Donald called "Cora Unashamed" — one of the stories in The Ways of White Folks — "a brilliantly realized portrait of an isolated black woman in a small Middle Western town, who stoically survives her own sorrows but in the end lashes out against the hypocrisy of the whites who employ her." That story was adapted into a film of the same name from The American Collection directed by Deborah M. Pratt, starring Regina Taylor and Cherry Jones, and released in 2000. Cinematographer Ernest Holzman won an American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) Award, for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Movies of the Week/Mini-Series'/Pilot for Network or Basic Broadcast TV, for his work on this film. (wikipedia)
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BUTTOCKS! ANTS ON A LOG! LONI!) and helped along by generally easier clues. Maybe the difficulty difference has something to do with word count. Yesterday's was lower (68, I think, v. today's max 72), and it's just generally easier to find toeholds in higher word-count puzzles. The way this grid is structured, it's basically all toe-holds. No big patches of white. I guess the NW and SE are sizable, in their ways, but they're riven through by so many 3s and 4s that finding purchase shouldn't have been that tough. To its credit, the puzzle kept those 3s and 4s pretty toughly clued. Still, there are just so many ways to come at this one, so many ways to work around whatever impasse you might hit. This is not a bad thing. What's weird, though, is that the fill on this one is actually not as good as yesterday's, overall. I mean, it's not bad, either, but there is a bunch more short junk here (yesterday's grid was pretty damn clean—it was the off cluing that I had a problem with). The only bits that really bothered me was the BAD / EMS cross-reference (EMS is indeed BAD; don't make it worse by forcing me to spend longer with it than I have to) (42A: With 54-Across, spa town on the Lahn River) and STUS ("Lakers commentator"???? *And* others??) (19A: Lakers commentator Lantz and others). And the ridic clue on ONO (5D: Mackerel variety on Hawaiian menus). Most of the other common short stuff is shake-offable, and more than made up for by solid longer fill.
I think of LIQUOR UP (17A: Become ripped) as a transitive verb phrase. You LIQUOR someone UP. Or maybe you also get liquored up. Something about the phrasing here, making LIQUOR UP something akin to REST UP or GAS UP, just felt off. I get that you wanted to use misdirection in your clue, but: clonk. KNURL has to be one of the ugliest words in the English language (7D: Small projecting ridge). Linguistically Moreauvian. Unholy offspring of two words that should never have gotten together. I have to boo at STREET MEAT, as I just don't think that's a thing. STREET FOOD (what I put in the grid at first)—totally a thing. STREET MEAT sounds like some kind of sex slang. I'd like to give high-fives to "TEQUILA" (as clued!), HIT ME UP, and JABBER. The clue on CALI is exquisite (25A: City known for its traffic violations). I liked this puzzle, though the [Somewhat] trilogy (40D, 21D, 36A) really saps the puzzle's energy. It's like I'm being encouraged to think, "Meh."
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld