Jazz Trumpeter Hargrove with two Grammys / FRI 3-24-17 / Novelist Hammond / Bronx Zoo has 265 of them / Bad occasion for anchor to drag / Hybrid business entity / In Luxury Beware painter 1663
Friday, March 24, 2017
Constructor: Michael Hawkins and John Guzzetta
Relative difficulty: Medium
Word of the Day: Hammond INNES (61A: Novelist Hammond ___) —
Ralph Hammond Innes (15 July 1913 – 10 June 1998) was a British novelist who wrote over 30 novels, as well as children's and travel books. He was married to fellow author and actress Dorothy Mary Lang in 1937 who died before him, in 1989. He was awarded a C.B.E. (Commander, Order of the British Empire) in 1978. [...] The Doppelganger, his first novel, was published in 1937. In WWII he served in the Royal Artillery, eventually rising to the rank of Major. During the war, a number of his books were published, including Wreckers Must Breathe (1940), The Trojan Horse (1941) and Attack Alarm (1941), the last of which was based on his experiences as an anti-aircraft gunner during the Battle of Britain at RAF Kenley. After being demobilized in 1946, he worked full-time as a writer, achieving a number of early successes. His novels are notable for a fine attention to accurate detail in descriptions of places, such as in Air Bridge (1951), set partially at RAF Gatow, RAF Membury after its closure and RAF Wunstorf during the Berlin Airlift. // Innes went on to produce books in a regular sequence, with six months of travel and research followed by six months of writing. Many of his works featured events at sea. His output decreased in the 1960s, but was still substantial. He became interested in ecological themes. He continued writing until just before his death. His last novel was Delta Connection (1996).
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ETCH!), so I had to go back to check out their earlier work, just to remind myself. I think it's fair to say that this is my favorite work from either of them. Solid grid, not much weak fill, and question-mark clues (which can be grating when off) really land. Often I just want to slap those punny little things ("Ooh, look at me, I'm a question-mark clue, aren't I just so coy and naughty?" [slap]). But if they land, then OK, question-mark clues, we're good. OK [Metal finish?] for WARE isn't much, but [Indications of one's qualifications?] for ASTERISKS is head-scratchingly wonderful (needed tons of crosses), as is [What'll give someone a bleeping chance?] for TAPE DELAY (same). For the latter, it came down to that last letter—my brain wanted it to be TAPED LAG (?). And then [Clip art?] for BONSAI? That's just good. Common phrase, completely (and validly) repurposed by the "?". This is definitely a puzzle where the fill, while good, isn't where the main entertainment value lies. Clue writing is crucial, and I'm told (... glares through the computer at someone ...) I don't talk about it enough. So I'm talking about it!
Daryl ISSA is gross, but his name is so crossword-friendly that I'll overrule my own objection and allow it (24D: California congressman Darrell). HEY, BATTER BATTER is glorious because it is baseball, and baseball is right around the corner, and I need something more than just TCM to take my mind off The World. The names might throw people a bit today, in that they all seem a bit old / obscure. I remembered there was a Judith besides Light somehow (IVEY), but I had no idea who this ROY was (5D: Jazz trumpeter Hargrove with two Grammys) (he's really good!), and while I know Sam RAIMI (I swear I just saw something about "Evil Dead" floating around Twitter in the last couple days), Hammond INNES seems like specialized knowledge. He was a mid-century thriller writer, and I know his name only because I have a massive vintage paperback collection in which his books appear a number of times. RAIMI over INNES might rough some people up, I don't know. Otherwise, while I thought the cluing kind of tricky, this played like a Friday. And look at that, it *is* Friday.
Good luck to all competing in this weekend's ACPT. I won't be there :( but I think I'm gonna "play from home," so ... we'll see how that goes.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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