Cousin of apple cobbler / WED 8-12-20 / Chart-topping R&B funk band / Weasellike animal with dark fur / Iconic 1971 blaxploitation film / Jazz great with Egyptian sounding name

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Constructor: Adesina Koiki

Relative difficulty: Easy (very: faster than yesterday, almost as fast as Monday) (3:11)

THEME: OHIO PLAYERS (60A: Chart-topping 1970s R&B/funk band suggested by the starts of 17-, 26-, 39- and 50-Across) — first word of each themer is also the name of an individual PLAYER on a sports team based in OHIO:

Theme answers:
  • BENGAL TIGER (17A: Animal accompanying Pi in "Life of Pi") (Cincinnati Bengals) (NFL
  • BROWN BETTY (26A: Cousin of an apple cobbler) (Cleveland Browns) (NFL)
  • RED WHITE AND BLUE (39A: U.S. flag, with "the") (Cincinnati Reds) (MLB)
  • INDIAN FOOD (50A: Biryani or vindaloo) (Cleveland Baseball Team) (MLB)
Word of the Day: Dr. KILDARE (48A: "Dr." of 1960s TV) —

Dr. Kildare is an NBC medical drama television series which originally ran from September 28, 1961, until August 30, 1966 for a total of 191 episodes over five seasons Produced by MGM Television, it was based on fictional doctor characters originally created by author Max Brand in the 1930s and previously used by MGM in a popular film series and radio drama. The TV series quickly achieved success and made a star of Richard Chamberlain, who played the title role. Dr. Kildare(along with an ABC medical drama, Ben Casey, which premiered at the same time) inspired or influenced many later TV shows dealing with the medical field.

Dr. Kildare aired on NBC affiliate stations on Thursday nights at 8:30-9:30 PM from September 28, 1961 until September 1965, when the timeslot was changed to Monday and Tuesday nights at 8:30-9:00 PM until the end of the show's run on August 30, 1966. (wikipedia)

• • •

Ha ha ha, yesssss! I opened the puzzle, saw my friend's name, had a brief feeling of elation, then immediately thought, "Oh, c'mon, please be good...." And it was! There was a bit of creaky fill along the way, but that revealer really sealed the day. Rollercoaster! 

This puzzle also had SUN RA (37D: Jazz great with an Egyptian-sounding name) and SHAFT (11D: Iconic blaxploitation film), so I was very much digging the vibe from start to finish. Seeing Addy's name was just such a nice surprise, and I need all the nice surprises I can get right now, to be honest. I've known Addy for something like a decade. I must've met him at an ACPT a while back but he's definitely been a regular at Lollapuzzoola in NYC every August*, and that's where I see him most often. Here we are at Yankee Stadium in 2013:

It's just nice to see a familiar face pop up in the constructor byline totally unexpectedly. It's also nice (very nice) to absolutely crush a Wednesday puzzle like it was Monday. I honestly thought I was gonna break three minutes. I don't remember hitting any real snags or slowdowns. All the proper nouns were in my wheelhouse and none of the fill was that weird or jarring or difficultly clued. I misspelled AHH, LOL. There really should be some kind of standard for the two-A and the two-H varieties! I also briefly thought WHOA was "WHAA...?" (27D: "What just happened where ... ?!"). I resented having to stop to figure out a dad joke, but it is *such* a dad joke that I actually laughed (51D: "What do you call cheese that isn't yours? ___ cheese!" (dad joke)). I've written down SHA ITE ADES AHH AMAIN OSOLE and INGE as Fill I Could Do Without, but honestly that is a pretty short list. Anyway, this puzzle is all about the theme, and specifically the Perfection of the revealer. Fiiie-uh!

So, yes, full disclosure, grain of salt, the constructor is my friend, I like him, I'm happy he has his debut today. I also genuinely enjoyed the solve. Have a nice day!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

*Lollapuzzoola is all-online this year, and it's This Saturday. I've told you this many times, but I'm telling you again, just in case you missed it. More info here!

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Viking who was first ruler of Normandy / TUE 8-11-20 / Pocketbook portmanteau / Popular shooter in old west / Collaborative online reference

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Constructor: Amanda Rafkin and Ross Trudeau

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (3:30)

THEME: EIEIO (37A: Refrain in a children's song ... or a literal feature of 17-, 25-, 42- and 55-Across)EIEIO => the vowels (in order of appearance) in each of the themers:

Theme answers:
  • DERRINGER PISTOL (17A: Popular shooter in the Old West)
  • REWRITES HISTORY (25A: Puts one's own slant on the past)
  • PRESIDENT WILSON (42A: W.W. I leader)
  • VERMICELLI BOWLS (55A: Vietnamese noodle salads)
Word of the Day: ROLLO (31D: Viking who was the first ruler of Normandy) —

Rollo (NormanRouOld NorseHrólfrFrenchRollonc. 860 – c. 930 AD) was a Viking who became the first ruler of Normandy, a region in northern France. He emerged as the outstanding warrior among the Norsemen who had secured a permanent foothold on Frankish soil in the valley of the lower Seine. After the Siege of Chartres in 911, Charles the Simple, the king of West Francia, ceded them lands between the mouth of the Seine and what is now Rouen in exchange for Rollo agreeing to end his brigandage, and provide the Franks with protection against future Viking raids.

Rollo is first recorded as the leader of these Viking settlers in a charter of 918, and he continued to reign over the region of Normandy until at least 928. He was succeeded by his son William Longsword in the Duchy of Normandy that he had founded. The offspring of Rollo and his followers became known as the Normans. After the Norman conquest of England and their conquest of southern Italy and Sicily over the following two centuries, their descendants came to rule Norman England (the House of Normandy), much of the island of Ireland, the Kingdom of Sicily(the Kings of Sicily) as well as the Principality of Antioch from the 10th to 12th century, leaving behind an enduring legacy in the histories of Europe and the Near East. (wikipedia)

• • •

I can't say I find this quirk that interesting. Nice that they're all 15; that adds at least a little bit of architectural elegance to the thing. But the answers themselves aren't that interesting in their own right, and the fill is pretty tepid, with one of the longer Downs absolutely wasted on the bizarre legalese / partial WHEREFORES. Makes BATH TOWELS almost seem sparkly by comparison. Almost. Just seems like a "huh, interesting" kind of concept, without any grid oomph to make the whole experience more, I don't know, energizing and engaging. I actually do like VERMICELLI BOWLS as a stand-alone answer, but it's offset by DERRINGER PISTOL, which ... those are just called "derringers." It's not that DERRINGER PISTOL is wrong, it just feels oddly formal and slightly redundant. Thankfully, I never saw the clue and didn't have to think about it too much; I had drilled so many of the Down crosses into place that most of DERRINGER PISTOL was in place before I ever even looked at it. 

Felt pretty easy overall, though ROLLO really slowed me down. Despite being very aware of the Normans and the Norman Invasion and the post-Invasion effects on England, I never learned the story of Normandy's origins well enough to keep ROLLO in cold storage for when I needed him. Reading about him, I realize that I have indeed read about him before, but it just didn't stick. His name, specifically, didn't stick. There is only one ROLLO for me, and he lives in the "Nancy" universe:

I had DOLT for TWIT (52D: Nincompoop), but no other missteps, though the SW corner was awkward and sloggy in a way that made me doubt I had it all in order. AYS!?! (61A: Captains' cries). I don't think I get it. The only nautical cry I know is AYE with an "E"—what is this "E"-less AY? That whole corner could use redoing, though honestly it's only AYS that's beyond the pale. I'm actually stunned at how often this answer has appeared in the NYTXW. OK, not often, about once a year. No, on second thought, that *is* too often. None of the really good constructors will touch it. Delete delete delete. Thank you.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

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