Soap star Deborah / THU 2-26-15 / Eponymous Soviet minister of foreign affairs / Tabloid nickname of '80s / Hunter of wallabies kangaroos / Coin first minted in 1964 / Azalea with 2014 #1 hit Fancy / Liberian president Peace Nobelist Johnso Sirleaf /
Thursday, February 26, 2015
Constructor: Caleb Emmons
Relative difficulty: Medium
- KENNEDY DOL (for "Kennedy half-dollar") (17A: Coin first minted in 1964)
- SUPER BOWL TI (for "Super Bowl half-time") (24D: Occasion for a much-hyped performance)
- GOING OFF COC (for "going off half-cocked") (10D: Acting rashly)
- FLYING AT MA (for "flying at half-mast") (54A: Signaling remembrance, in a way)
Deborah Adair (born Deborah Adair Miller on May 23, 1952 in Lynchburg, Virginia) is an American television actress, primarily known for her roles in soap operas. […] In total, Adair has appeared in seven different projects produced by Aaron Spelling; Dynasty, Matt Houston, The Love Boat, Finder of Lost Loves, Hotel (in which she played four different roles between 1984–87), Melrose Place and the television movie Rich Men Single Women (1990). She has also appeared in a variety of other primetime series such as Murder, She Wrote, Blacke's Magic and MacGyver. She also played a supporting role as Kate Chase in the Emmy Award-nominated miniseries Lincoln (1988).
• • •
KENNEDY DOL and thought "well, DOL is a cruddy abbr. for "dollar," so this should be interesting," forgetting that there is no such thing as a "Kennedy dollar." Got the whole center of the grid and then finished the tail end of SUPER BOWL TI and that's when the dime dropped. Ah … Half. Half-time. Half-dollar. OK then. I like the concept, though it makes for an ugly grid, with those nonsensical themers. It also just looks like the answers got lopped off. The visual impact is poor. But the concept is solid. I wish it had been possible for all the themers to come out looking like actual phrases, a la FLYING AT MA! Maybe they could each have had their own wacky clues. FLYING AT MA could be [Like one involved in a family squabble?] GOING OFF COC is one letter shy of being fantastic. [Becoming celibate, perhaps?]. At any rate, relative ugliness of themers aside, the fill is remarkably solid, and the longer non-theme answers interesting and vibrant.
This was a pretty easy puzzle, but I got slowed by a couple of things. First, I couldn't tell which longer answers were and weren't theme answers. Long Acrosses both are and aren't themers. Long Downs both are and aren't themers. Because both 31A: Crazy place? (FUNNY FARM) and 38A: Company with a lot of bean counters? (STARBUCKS) ended with question marks, I thought they were in on the theme wackiness (failing to note that KENNEDY DOL did not have a "?" clue…). Also, answers that could've been clued in very familiar ways were given rather obscure clues. No Red ADAIR today. No [Comedian Degeneres], either (ELLEN). Those were both super-tough for me. I also found the partials a bit rough. Who says "JUDO chop"? And what is an ANNO mundi? A year of the world? What is that? I should know, I guess, but I don't. I also didn't know bees WAGGLED, or that waggling was dancing. But I did know IGGY. I'll cling to that.
PS here's a nice article re: the upcoming charity crossword tournament in Ithaca (where I'll be next Saturday, Mar. 7). Lots of crossword folks were interviewed for this. Check it out.