Bluebeard's Castle librettist Balázs / SAT 2-28-15 / Linking brainstem part / Bit of headwear in British lingo / Laugh-inducing pic / Stovepipe of WWII / Classic symbol of rebellion / Holder of many diorama / Greasy spoon appliance / Occasion for goat-tying
Saturday, February 28, 2015
Constructor: Barry C. Silk
Relative difficulty: Easy
Word of the Day: BELA Balázs (53A: "Bluebeard's Castle" librettist Balázs) —
Béla Balázs (Hungarian: [ˈbeːlɒ ˈbɒlaːʒ]; 4 August 1884, Szeged – 17 May 1949, Budapest), born Herbert Bauer, was a Hungarian-Jewish film critic, aesthete, writer and poet. […] He is perhaps best remembered as the librettist of Bluebeard's Castle which he originally wrote for his roommate Zoltán Kodály, who in turn introduced him to the eventual composer of the opera, Béla Bartók. This collaboration continued with the scenario for the ballet The Wooden Prince. (wikipedia)
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WEARISOME. The only thing I enjoy about TITFER (49D: Bit of headwear, in British lingo) is saying "TITFER TOT" (the two words conveniently sit next to one another). Otherwise, that strikes me not as cute but as desperate. PONS … I gotta believe PONS could've been avoided there. It's such a stupid-looking technical term. And anyway, you'd only want to use something like that to hold a great bank of longer answers together, and that's just not what PONS is doing here. It's sitting in a perfectly reworkable area. Then there's FRYOLATOR (67A: Greasy spoon appliance), which I think I'm supposed to find charming and retro. But it feels made-up. Is it a brand name. I eat in greasy spoons from time to time—never heard of it. I feel like it must be what normals call the "fryer" or "deep fryer." Is that right? [...checks…] Ha! Yes! It's listed as an alternate name under the "Deep fryer" entry at wikipedia. Even if I liked that answer, and I don't, too many of the crosses are dreary: SMELTER and SMEARER and ALERO and UTIL and SAN REMO are all zzzzzz. In fact, the only entries I truly enjoyed today were BAZOOKA (14D: "Stovepipe of W.W. II) and PHOTOBOMB (48A: Laugh-inducing pic). Everything else was adequate to dull.
[In the '80s, we didn't have BLU-RAY. We had this.]
[R.I.P. Leonard Nimoy]
My greatest solving coup today came very early, via a (normally unloved) cross-referenced clue. I read 5D: Last name on a 40-Down and decided to check 40-Down. Once I saw that 40-Down was [Holder of many a diorama], I instantly thought SHOEBOX, which instantly suggested MCAN as a possibility. So I'd only just begun, and this is what my grid looked like:
REPO MAN! (12D: One who assumes control by default?). God bless you, Emilio Estevez, wherever you are.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld