Old bandleader with Egyptian inspired name / SUN 1-8-17 / Entourage of 1990s white rapper / Headwear NBA banned in 2005 / Literary device used to address plot inconsistencies
Sunday, January 8, 2017
Constructor: Peter Broda and Erik Agard
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
- CLOVE (i.e. C. Love) CIGARETTES (20A: Things smoked by singer Courtney?)
- PROSE POETRY (31A: "Charlie Hustle is my name / I am banned from Hall of Fame," e.g.?)
- SCURRY AWAY (56A: Hoopster Steph not playing at home?)
- MALI EMPIRE (73A: The sport of boxing in the 1960s and '70s, essentially?)
- CHART TOPPER (100A: Hat for pop singer Corey?)
- THANKS IN ADVANCE (112A: Two-time Best Actor winner arriving early?)
- CROCK POT (3D: Something smoked by comic Chris?)
- SHARPER IMAGE (8D: Photo of Canada's former prime minister Stephen?)
- CHANDLER BING (61D: Cherry for talk show host Chelsea?)
- VICE UNIT (86D: Entourage of a 1990s white rapper?) (Vanilla Ice)
legal name Le Sony'r Ra; May 22, 1914 – May 30, 1993) was an American jazz composer, bandleader, piano and synthesizer player, poet and philosopher known for his experimental music, "cosmic" philosophy, prolific output, and theatrical performances. He was inducted into the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame in 1979. For much of his career, Ra led "The Arkestra", an ensemble with an ever-changing name and flexible line-up. [...] Though his mainstream success was limited, Sun Ra was a prolific recording artist and frequent live performer, and remained both influential and controversial throughout his life for his music and persona. He is now widely considered an innovator; among his distinctions are his pioneering work in free improvisation and modal jazz and his early use of electronic keyboards. Over the course of his career, he recorded dozens of singles and over one hundred full-length albums, comprising well over 1000 songs, and making him one of the most prolific recording artists of the 20th century. Following Sun Ra's death in 1993, the Arkestra continues to perform. (wikipedia)
• • •SPECIAL MESSAGE for Solvers in Syndication (for the week of January 15-January 22, 2017)
Rex Parker c/o Michael Sharp
54 Matthews St
Binghamton, NY 13905
Now on to the puzzle!
Wow. A rollercoaster of emotions. First, I saw the byline and got Very excited, as Erik Agard is one of my favorite constructors. Peter Broda is also very good, but it seems like a long time since I've seen his byline. Anyway, I know them both and they are smart, funny, careful constructors, so I was psyched. Then ... the NYT had technical glitches with the puzzle. Again. "The World's Best Puzzle" everyone! So when I opened my .puz file I got ... this:
SNES (68A: Sega Genesis competitor, in brief) is a terrible answer to look at, and ERM (104A: "Uhh..."), while real, is almost too improvised for my tastes (though I've been reading a lot of "Krazy Kat" lately, so I'm getting acclimated to improvised spellings). But any infelicities in the grid are pretty minor, *especially* when you consider the insane layout of the themers. They interlock like mad. I can't remember seeing anything like it. Six Acrosses, four Downs, and every themer intersects at least one other. Bonkers. S.HARPER IMAGE intersects Three Other Themers (ditto C.HANDLER BING, obviously). And then there are these weird red decoys in the NE / SW, long Downs that look like they're going to be themers for sure ... but then aren't. The whole enterprise is unusual, original, and very well crafted.
I did not fully grasp the theme at first. I got C.LOVE CIGARETTES fast, but I didn't get that "C." was an initial (for "Courtney"). I saw LOVE in there, but wondered what C. CIGARETTES were and what kind of wordplay was going on. Further, I thought the theme was going to be smoking, because the first two themers I saw were clued that way ([Things smoked by ...] and then on C.ROCK POT, [Something smoked by ...]). Plus the initial letter of both those themers was "C." So I started with 2 x smoke and 2 x "C" and just shrugged and plowed on. Wasn't til S.HARPER IMAGE that I got the whole first-initial idea. I don't know what the M.ALI EMPIRE is—that answer seemed like a big familiarity-outlier. But everything else was solid and funny, esp. the P.ROSE POETRY clue.
- 98D: Dude, in British lingo (BRUV) — I think this is like "bro" or its variant "bruh"; its appearance in the grid makes me happy. Fun with language! I also enjoyed NUJAZZ (though I wanted NUJACK, for reasons known only to early '90s me) and MIX CDS (a lovely phenomenon and lost art). I am just trusting that URL HIJACKING is a real thing because the puzzle tells me it is; I'm not mad because it was highly guessable.
- 46A: Televangelist Joel (OSTEEN) — I could see this guy's horrid mug but his name was blocked because of *&$^&$*% Haley Joel OSMENT.
- 17A: Fish whose name is a celebrity's name minus an R (OPAH) — I love this clue so much I want to adopt it. If you gotta use some crosswordesey fish, give us a clue so good-naturedly absurd that I don't even mind.
- 26A: Game involving sharp projectiles and alcohol (BEER DARTS) — Is this like BEER POOL and BEER YAHTZEE and BEER GAMES I PLAY WHILE DRUNK? Seriously, how is this different from just drinking beer while playing darts? As with URL HIJACKING, I'm just gonna trust that it's a real thing.
P.S. Annabel has been blogging the first puzzle of every month for over two years now, but only today (Saturday) did I finally get to meet her in person. She and her mom just happened to be driving through. We had a lovely long lunch.
[Bell and me]
[lady in the middle is Bell's mom, Liz; they brought me Bergers cookies, which are apparently some kind of a Baltimore thing—lots of chocolate icing. Pretty delicious.]
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