Bobby who wrote Route 66 / SAT 1-16-16 / Julie with two Tonys for Lion King / Stress test apparatus / 1974 film with three stars in its name / Sci-fi charcter who takes red pill rather than blue one
Saturday, January 16, 2016
Constructor: Sean Dobbin
Relative difficulty: Medium
Word of the Day: Bobby TROUP (54A: Bobby who wrote "Route 66") —
Robert Wesley "Bobby" Troup Jr. (October 18, 1918 – February 7, 1999) was an American actor, jazz pianist, singer and songwriter. He is best known for writing the popular standard "(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66", and for his role as Dr. Joe Early, opposite his real-life wife Julie London's character, in the 1970s US TV series, Emergency! (wikipedia)
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SPECIAL MESSAGE for the week of January 10-January 17, 2016
Hello, solvers. Somehow, it is January again, which means it's time for my week-long, once-a-year pitch for financial contributions to the blog. The idea is very simple: if you read the blog regularly (or even semi-regularly), please consider what it's worth to you on an annual basis and give accordingly. In making this pitch, I'm pledging that the blog will continue to be here for you to read / enjoy / grimace at for at least another calendar year, with a new post up by 9:00am (usually by 12:01am) every day, as usual. This year is special, as it will mark the 10th anniversary of Rex Parker Does the NYT Crossword Puzzle, and despite my not-infrequent grumblings about less-than-stellar puzzles, I've actually never been so excited to be thinking and writing about crosswords. I have no way of knowing what's coming from the NYT, but the broader world of crosswords looks very bright, and that is sustaining. Whatever happens, this blog will remain an outpost of the Old Internet: no ads, no corporate sponsorship, no whistles and bells. Just the singular, personal voice of someone talking passionately about a topic he loves. As I have said in years past, I know that some people are opposed to paying for what they can get for free, and still others really don't have money to spare. Both kinds of people are welcome to continue reading my blog, with my compliments. It will always be free. I have no interest in cordoning it off, nor do I have any interest in taking advertising. I value my independence too much. Anyway, if you are so moved, there is a Paypal button in the sidebar, and a mailing address here:
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And here: I'll stick a PayPal button in here for the mobile users.
• • •STAID. It's got PHOTOBOMB (1A: Drop-in shot?) right out front, which is fantastic, but nothing else in the grid is anywhere near that interesting. What we get instead is a mostly (though not always) clean grid designed to please that segment of the solving population that doesn't like sports and doesn't like brand names and doesn't like contemporary pop culture anywhere near their puzzles. It's worth noting that this segment of the solving population is still pretty sizable. I actually thought most of this puzzle was solid, if workmanlike. It's loaded with tough-but-fair clues, many of them playful in a non-irritating way. But there were three areas that gave me a slight case of the grimaces, and so my feeling upon wrapping it up (in the SE) was not a terribly satisfied one—although if I play "LIP SERVICE" in my head, my mood does improve considerably.
Things started very, very badly. I actually took two screenshots documenting each of my first two answers. The first shot is titled "inauspicious," and the second "ReallyInauspicious":
[gratuitous cat picture]
But then I got into the SW corner. Seemed like no problem—nailed all the long Downs without too much trouble, so it was just a matter of finishing off all that little stuff at the bottom and ... then ... TROU-??? This was the point that I realized the cultural center of gravity for this puzzle was at least two decades before my own. ROB REINER was hard enough to come up with (I was a child). Bobby TROUP?? LOL, no. And you cross TROUP ('60s/'70s) with "S*P*Y*S" (1974)!? Now, despite never having seen "S*P*Y*S" and not even knowing stars were supposed to go in here, I figured out that "P." I'd *heard* of "S*P*Y*S." I have to think some younger (than 46) solvers (and some older) will not have. And since "S*P*Y*S" is a misspelled plural ... I don't know how inferrable it is. I am now imagining an animated movie about pigs called "S*T*Y*S" (PIG IT! ... Summer 2018). Gotta give credit to the "M*A*S*H" misdirection in the clue, though (51D: 1974 film witih three stars in its title)—"M*A*S*H" was four years early, but you'd be forgiven for not remember that. Also, turns out that the two movies have the Same Two Stars:
And who the hell knows what an ERGOMETER is? Does it measure how often you make logical connections. I've heard of ERGONOMIC furniture, but that is the extent of my ergoknowledge. And AD INITIUM, yikes! (55A: At the beginning) I had my face in a Latin textbook just yesterday and that one still took work. AB OVO ... is how I would say "at the beginning" Latinly. It's how the crossword usually says it. AD INFINITUM is of course wrong, but it kept running around my brain anyway. So that SE corner was kind of hard to get into. I knew RENE RUSSO, but she didn't help much. Ironically, Julie TAYMOR was the one who bailed me out (I've never seen her work; just know her name somehow) (45D: Julie with two Tonys for "The Lion King"). Actually, TUBA was the real hero—the first thing I managed to throw down in that largely empty section (48A: It has a solo near the end of "An American in Paris"). Thanks, TUBA.
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