1982 international chart-topper by Trio with repetitive title / SAT 10-1-16 / Roman soldier who became Christian martyr / Hoarder's squalor / Headliners at Palais Garnier / Brand once advertised with line they never get on your nerves / Where mud engineer works

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Constructor: David Woolf

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: Edward Gorey's "The Gashlycrumb TINIES" (18A) —
The Gashlycrumb Tinies: or, After the Outing is an abecedarian book written by Edward Gorey that was first published in 1963. Gorey tells the tale of 26 children (each representing a letter of the alphabet) and their untimely deaths in rhyming dactylic couplets, accompanied by the author's distinctive black and white illustrations. It is one of Edward Gorey's best-known books, and is the most notorious amongst his roughly half-dozen mock alphabets. It has been described as a "sarcastic rebellion against a view of childhood that is sunny, idyllic, and instructive". The morbid humor of the book comes in part from the mundane ways in which children die, such as falling down the stairs or choking on a peach. Far from illustrating the dramatic and fantastical childhood nightmares, these scenarios instead poke fun at the banal paranoias that come as a part of parenting. (wikipedia)
• • •
An exercise in Adequacy. Boring, acceptable, occasionally marginal fill, and only 2-3 interesting answers in the whole grid (namely, ASSANGE and STRESS EATS, and possibly BMX BIKE). That double [___ deck] business was garbage, esp. ORLOP (?). Things get very 1-point tile-ish through IRON ORE / I REST / EELERS (ugh) / AEON. I think maybe HAHAHA hovering over "DA DA DA" is supposed to be funny. Maybe if the "International chart topper" (wth is that?) were more Something, I would like it better (I can hear the tune in my head ... actually, just the DA DA DA part ...). I do not accept TINIES as a thing except insofar as it is that thing that I occasionally call my dogs (true story). ONE TO TEN should've been clued as [Scale type] if it was to be clued as anything (not fond of it as an answer at all). But most of the rest is, as I say, serviceable. Just blah.

[A "chart-topper" ... in Austria, New Zealand, South African, and Switzerland only]

Also, right now, I am quite worried that I am supposed accept that when two people are "spooning" one of them is called the BIG SPOON and I cannot and will not accept this ever. I swear to you that I just assumed there was some form of the word "cuddle" (v.) that I just didn't know, involving a BIG SPOON. Maybe like "muddle" (v.) ... maybe you do it for cocktails ... "Step 2: cuddle the mint with a BIG SPOON." I don't know. But after looking up "cuddle" and "cuddler" several times and coming up with nothing involving muddling stirring or mixing of any sort, I was forced to come back to the strong possibility that the puzzle wants me to accept that there are BIG SPOONs and (!?) little spoons involved in the act of spooning. Never mind that actual spoons that nest together are the Same Damned Size. Never mind that the physically bigger person might be spooned. Ugh. Please tell me there is some non-spooning way to understand this stupid answer.

Here is a short podcast that constructor / solving phenom Erik Agard recorded yesterday re: yesterday's GHETTOBLASTER (which, apparently, Shortz tried to pre-emptively defend yesterday on the NYT's house blog—you can find the link on Erik's Soundcloud post). Succinct and smart and strident.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Golf handicap of zero / FRI 9-30-16 / Like some garages / Forrest Gump college football / Funky Cold Medina rapper / Test pattern? / Chalk Garden playwright / Vigoda Godfather / Shire Godfather / River of forgetfulness / Figures in ribald Greek plays / Stochastic / Collaborative computer coding event / Everyone's private driver sloganeer

Friday, September 30, 2016

Constructor: James Mulhern

Relative difficulty: Relatively easy for a Friday


Word of the Day: LEBRON JAMES (35A: N.B.A. M.V.P. who has hosted "Saturday Night Live") —
LeBron Raymone James (/ləˈbrɒn/; born December 30, 1984) is an American professional basketball player for the Cleveland Cavaliers of the National Basketball Association (NBA). James has won three NBA championships (2012, 2013, 2016), four NBA Most Valuable Player Awards (2009, 2010, 2012, 2013), three NBA Finals MVP Awards (2012, 2013, 2016), two Olympic gold medals (2008, 2012), an NBA scoring title (2008), and the NBA Rookie of the Year Award (2004). He has also been selected to 12 NBA All-Star teams (named the game's MVP twice), 12 All-NBA teams, and six All-Defensive teams, and is the Cavaliers' all-time leading scorer. (Wikipedia)
• • •
HERE GOES Laura, your STAND IN for Rex, about to TAP INTO today's ESOTERY.

ANTEATER (12D: Creature that Dalí walked on a leash in public)
This was a pretty snappy themeless that felt like it was made for my first FORAY into crossword blogging. Grid name-checked pop culture phenomena from every decade of my life. Some may know ABE (4D: Vigoda of "The Godfather") as Salvatore Tessio but, CMON, as a kid in the 1970s, I remember him from Barney Miller and its spinoff, Fish. Speaking of 22A: 1970s TV spinoffs, I originally had MAUDE, which was was spun off from All in the Family, instead of RHODA, which was spun off from The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Moving on to my teen years, we have TONE LOC (16A: "Funky Cold Medina" rapper), a recent name-that-tune answer for my pub trivia team, and Randy Newman's I LOVE LA (50A: 1983 hit song that mentions Santa Monica Boulevard). Then a writer I first read in my late 20s: 56A: Playwright Eve ENSLER (author of The Vagina Monologues). Something I wore constantly while lugging kids around in my 30s was a BABY BJORN (20D: Swedish-based maker of infant carriers). Many geeky librarians like me have attended a HACKATHON (7D: Collaborative computer coding event). Then, of course, there's 23D: Seedy place to drink (DIVE BAR), where I TRY to go as often as possible. The only NATICK for me was Enid BAGNOLD (35D: "The Chalk Garden" playwright, 1955) -- I knew her only as the author of National Velvet.

  • GHETTO BLASTER (33A: Source of break-dancing beats) — Look, we've had this discussion before. I won't rehash the points that Rex and others have made, but even Wikipedia calls it "a pejorative nickname which was soon used as part of a backlash against the boombox and hip hop culture." My heart sank a little when I realized it was the marquee answer (is that the term in crossword-ese? That's what I'm calling it). People still breakdance. Their source for beats now is likely IPHONE SPEAKERS.
  • LETHE (45A: River of forgetfulness) — This is one where having a graduate degree in nineteenth-century British literature helped. It's in the first line of Keats's "Ode on Melancholy": "Oh do not go to Lethe, neither twist Wolf's bane, tight-rooted, for its poisonous vine."
  • VICHYSSOISE (29A: Creamy chilled soup) — Here's my favorite recipe.
Signed, Laura Braunstein, Sorceress of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


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