Baseball great Buck / THU 6-30-16 / 1956 jazz/blues album with exclamation point / Heavy drinkers informally / Caligula's love / Tout's stock in trade
Thursday, June 30, 2016
Constructor: Jonathan M. Kaye
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: TOP / OFF (38A: With 39-Across, refill to capacity ... or a hint to interpreting the clues at 17-, 27-, 46- and 61-Across) — if you literally take the top off of each letter in the theme clues (i.e. block out / discard the upper half of the clue), you get a new clue appropriate to the answer:
- 17A: B0B (i.e. DUD) -> DEFECTIVE BULLET
- 27A: TB8L (i.e. IDOL) -> ADORED SUPERSTAR
- 46A: 8V8TB (i.e. OVOID) -> SHAPED LIKE AN EGG
- 61A: VMB (i.e. VIVID) -> BRIGHTLY COLORED
Word of the Day: ERIKA Christensen (20A: Christensen of "Parenthood") —
Erika Jane Christensen (born August 19, 1982) is an American actress and singer whose filmography includes roles in Traffic (2000), Swimfan (2002), The Banger Sisters (2002), The Perfect Score (2004), Flightplan (2005), How to Rob a Bank (2007), and The Tortured (2010). For her performance in Traffic, she won the MTV Movie Award for Breakthrough Female Performance and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture along with her co-stars. // In 2006, she starred on the short-lived drama series Six Degrees on ABC. From 2010 until its ending in 2015, Christensen starred as Julia Braverman-Graham on the NBC family drama series Parenthood. In 2014, she won a Gracie Award for her performance in the role. Christensen portrayed Betty Beaumontaine on ABC's short-lived crime drama series Wicked City. (wikipedia)
• • •DEFECTIVE BULLET well before the revealer and couldn't make any sense of it. When in doubt, get Very Literal ... so I did, and voila. I am not a big fan of definitions-as-answers, and these answers have been particularly ... let's say, massaged (since it's a nice word) ... to get them into 15 form. So not only do I get definitions as answers, I get some pretty iffy ones at that. I would never get to DEFECTIVE BULLET from "Dud" unless absolutely forced to. The ADORED in ADORED SUPERSTAR is at least semi-redundant. SHAPED LIKE AN EGG ... well, that one's so ridiculous it makes me laugh, so I actually kind of like it. BRIGHTLY COLORED seems just right. Fill is smooth—it's a 78-worder, so it oughta be. The APER / REFI / EPEE / ERIKA is the only densely yucky part of the grid. SILLY ME and PRE-NUP give the grid a little colloquial zazz. This is not a type of puzzle I particularly enjoy, but it's reasonably well done for what it is.
Difficulty lay (aside from the obvious theme-figuring-out stuff) in a few misdirective / ambiguous clues. I was so proud of myself for dropping EMU and LARGEST, bam bam. And then the "A" in LARGEST worked for MAUVE so I knew I'd nailed it. Until I couldn't finish the corner. The hole I dug wasn't too deep, but it was ... interesting. Most notably, I convinced myself that "old-time cookie recipes" contained an ingredient called GERM (as in "wheat germ," duh). Other mistakes weren't nearly as costly. I knew "Tout" related to gambling, but for some reason I decided his stock-in-trade was ODDS (?). ID NO. was really hard for 24D: Prisoner's assignment, Abbr. And then the highly ambiguous 45D: Pen made getting into the SE a little tricky. If this were my puzzle, I'd probably have changed SORE (66A) to SAND, thereby getting rid of the always-terrible ADES and picking up the Flock of Seagulls song "I RAN" at 58D. But SORE works too. Different strokes etc.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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