Green condiment / MON 7-24-17 / George Rumble in the Jungle / Ke$ha TiK / Ouzo flavoring / Taj Mahal city / Muppet with wings / Milo Verdict

Monday, July 24, 2017

Constructor: Peter Gordon

Relative difficulty: Easy (4:17)

THEME: Morphological reduplication (as they call it in linguistics) — An idiom and the names of a person, a brand, and a Muppet repeat sounds (morphemes) in a rhyming pattern.

Theme answers:
  • 28A: Ramen product -- OODLES OF NOODLES
  • 56A: "Sesame Street" Muppet with wings and a magic wand -- ABBY CADABBY
  • 6D: Competing with the goal of victory -- IN IT TO WIN IT
  • 7D: Daredevil in the Motorcycle Hall of Fame -- EVEL KNIEVEL
Do you get enough noodles in your noodle soup?

Word of the Day: RUMBLE IN THE JUNGLE (from the clue for FOREMAN [13A: Boxer George who lost the Rumble in the Jungle]) -- almost a reduplication!
The Rumble in the Jungle was a historic boxing event in Kinshasa, Zaire (now Democratic Republic of the Congo) on October 30, 1974 (at 4:00 am). Held at the 20th of May Stadium (now the Stade Tata Raphaël), it pitted the undefeated world heavyweight champion George Foreman against challenger Muhammad Ali, a former heavyweight champion. The attendance was 60,000. Ali won by knockout, putting Foreman down just before the end of the eighth round. It has been called "arguably the greatest sporting event of the 20th century". The event was one of Don King's first ventures as a professional boxing promoter. (Wikipedia)
• • •
Jeepers creepers! This super-de-duper puzzle was just chock-a-block with boogie-woogie. The nitty-gritty: Peter Gordon gives us a grid with left-right symmetry (as opposed to the standard topsy-turvy rotational symmetry), no doubt to accommodate a set of hodge-podge theme entries without symmetrical lengths. Add the hocus-pocus of crossing the 15-letter OODLES OF NOODLES with the two 11-letter down themers and that's evidence of some razzle-dazzle construction skills.
I wonder if there's a Goth Muppet named AVER CADAVER
The fill was neither fuddy-duddy nor hoity-toity. There's some kind of postmodern fusion cuisine suggested by WASABI (1A: Green condiment served with sushi), TACO BELL (42D: Fast food chain with the slogan "Live más"), and RONZONI (16A: Brand of pasta). You've got your Midwestern cities represented with ST PAUL (11D: Capital of Minnesota) and SHEBOYGAN (38D: Wisconsin city on Lake Michigan). And I have a teentsy-weentsy quibble with SLABBING (45D: Applying thickly, with "on") because it seems a bit hugger-mugger, but okey-dokey.
  • 44A: Milo of "The Verdict" (O'SHEA) — Poor Milo. A long career in British cinema, and you are known forever to crossword solvers as the judge from a 1980s Paul Newman legal drama. I propose that from now on we clue O'SHEA as [Rapper and actor ___  Jackson, better known as Ice Cube].
  • 70A: Molecule components (ATOMS) — Q: Why can't you trust atoms? A: Because they make up everything.
  • 63A: Punk rock's ___ Pop (IGGY) — I'll let Iggy sing me out.
 I see the stars come out tonight

Signed, Laura Braunstein, Sorceress of CrossWorld

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1943 French novella / SUN 7-23-17 / Pacific capital / The Big Pineapple / Dance craze 2010s / Agency Human Genome Project / Bert who sang "If I Only Had the Nerve" / 1990 Nobelist Octavio

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Constructor: Caleb Madison

Relative difficulty: Easy (16:36)

THEME: "Back on the Charts" — Names of musical artists are "back" -- i.e. at the end of the entries -- and on the charts -- i.e. in the grid.

Theme answers:
  • 30A: Title character in a 1943 French novella [6] (LITTLE PRINCE)
  • 47A: The Big Pineapple [4] (HONOLULU)
  • 66A: Like some lawyers' work [4] (PRO BONO)
  • 86A: "Why are you looking at me?" [4] (WHAT'D I DO)
  • 100A: 11th-century campaign [4] (FIRST CRUSADE)
    First Crusade
  • 3D: 17,000+-foot peak near the Equator (MOUNT KENYA)  
  • 5D: Make airtight, in a way [4] (HEATSEAL)
  • 10D: Healthy [4] (IN THE PINK)
  • 12D: Nightshade family member [4] (MANDRAKE)
  • 13D: Prized possession [5] (CROWN JEWEL)
  • 26D: One doing routine office work, informally [5] (PEN PUSHER)
  • 51D: Dave of jazz [4] (BRUBECK)
  • 63D: One leading the exercises, for short? [4] (PE TEACHER)
  • 70D: Fruity spirit [6] (PEAR BRANDY)
  • 73D: Vain, temperamental sort [7] (PRIMADONNA)
  • 77D: Band member's main squeeze? [4] (ACCORDION)
  • 82D: 1940 Disney release [3] (FANTASIA)*
  • 87D: Pulling off bank jobs [5] (HEISTING)
* Depending on your preferred cultural frame of reference, this could have also been early 80s synth-rock band ASIA (with their chart-topping hit "Heat of the Moment") or third-season American Idol champion FANTASIA (with her chart-topping hit "I Believe"). Also, dude. DAVE BRUBECK. Take Five and take him back to the charts.

Word of the Day: AGOUTI (69A: Guinea pig relative) —
The term agouti (Spanish: agutí, pronounced [aɣuˈti]) or common agouti designates several rodent species of the genus Dasyprocta. They are native to Middle America, northern and central South America, and the southern Lesser Antilles. Some species have also been introduced elsewhere in the West Indies.[1] They are related to guinea pigs and look quite similar, but are larger and have longer legs. The species vary considerably in colour, being brown, reddish, dull orange, greyish or blackish, but typically with lighter underparts. Their bodies are covered with coarse hair which is raised when alarmed. They weigh 2.4–6 kg (5.3–13.2 lb) and are 40.5–76 cm (15.9–29.9 in) in length, with short, hairless tails. (Wikipedia) [Them are cute rodents. (Me)]
• • •
Hello, CrossWorld! Rex is on a well-deserved vacation, so you get me, Laura, blogging the puzzle through next Sunday. Be confident there will be no disruptions in your regularly scheduled crossword blogging service. Between you and me, I didn't find this a terribly exciting Sunday with which to start our week together. I wanted the theme to do more than just hide the names of chart-topping popular musical artists -- in fact, I even spent a little time browsing the Billboard charts to see if there was any correlation between, say, the entry number and the artist's chart position re their biggest hit -- but, no, unless I'm missing something. (Mansplain at me in the comments, if so.) A few of the artists are hidden beautifully in the entries (86A: WHAT'D I DO, 26D: PEN PUSHER [wait, don't we usually say PENCIL PUSHER? or PAPER PUSHER?]) but others were more than obvious (30A: LITTLE PRINCE, 10D: IN THE PINK). Also -- and this is likely a function of cramming so many (eighteen!) themers into the grid -- we've got some oldies in there -- Dion! Lulu! -- who are outliers from the rest of the late-1980s-to-the-present playlist.

Double helix in the sky tonight

Fill-wise ... wow, lots of little words. I'm working hard on improving my own constructing skills, and I struggle the most with limiting the inclusion of three-letter entries that are abbreviations or tired crosswordese. It's difficult to do this well, and this grid suffers a bit with EST, WTO, AEC, NIH, DSO, DOA, OTB, FCC, CNN, NEA and the like.

  • 89A: Inverse trig function (ARCTAN) — One of my crossword twitter friends (who is also a fine constructor) goes by the handle @ArctanPrime. Being a humanities person/librarian who hasn't taken math since my first year of college, I didn't quite remember what this meant. Now I know! Raising a glass in your general direction, Chris!
  • 99A: Lewis ___, 1848 Democratic candidate for president (CASS) — Is he the most famous CASS out there? Not Ellen Naomi "Mama CASS Elliot" Cohen? Or legal scholar CASS Sunstein? Anyone?
  • 55A Bert who sang "If I Only Had the Nerve" (LAHR)But I could show my prowess/ Be a lion, not a mowess/ If I only had the noive ...
See you tomorrow! And the day after that. And a few more after that!

Signed, Laura Braunstein, Sorceress of CrossWorld

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[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


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