Literary waiter / SAT 3-25-17 / Coffee in miltary slang / Locale in two James Bond films / Media inits since 1922 / Subject of 1942 film musical Yankee Doodle Dandy / Joey of children's literature

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Constructor: Sam Ezersky and David Steinberg

Relative difficulty: Easy


THEME: none 

Word of the Day: COHAN (51D: Subject of the 1942 film musical "Yankee Doodle Dandy") —
George Michael Cohan (July 3, 1878 – November 5, 1942), known professionally as George M. Cohan, was an American entertainer, playwright, composer, lyricist, actor, singer, dancer and producer. // Cohan began his career as a child, performing with his parents and sister in a vaudeville act known as "The Four Cohans." Beginning with Little Johnny Jones in 1904, he wrote, composed, produced, and appeared in more than three dozen Broadway musicals. Cohan published more than 300 songs during his lifetime, including the standards "Over There", "Give My Regards to Broadway", "The Yankee Doodle Boy" and "You're a Grand Old Flag". As a composer, he was one of the early members of the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP). He displayed remarkable theatrical longevity, appearing in films until the 1930s, and continuing to perform as a headline artist until 1940. // Known in the decade before World War I as "the man who owned Broadway", he is considered the father of American musical comedy. His life and music were depicted in the Academy Award-winning film Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) and the 1968 musical George M!. A statue of Cohan in Times Square in New York City commemorates his contributions to American musical theatre. (wikipedia)
• • •

I had FATHOMS for FETCHES (3D: Gets), and then didn't know two proper nouns that were placed like sentries right at the western entryways to the SE corner (COHAN, ENID). Other than that, there was literally nothing in this puzzle that presented a problem, nothing that took more than a little bit of puzzling, a little bit of cross-working. This was a very nook-and-crannyed 72-worder, so getting footholds was never ever a problem. The whole thing is footholds. Once again, a 1-Across gimme signaled smooth sailing ahead. I filled in "LIFE OF PABLO" without hesitation—it was one of the most talked-about albums of last year (1A: 2016 #1 Kanye West album, with "The"). There was this whole controversy involving some lyrics about Taylor Swift (to which she publicly took offense), and whether Swift did or did not know about them, and even OK them, ahead of time. I know you all are pop junkies ... read about it here and here if you like. Anyway, regardless of the Swift nonsense, the album was critically successful and I knew it. From there, I put down *seven* Downs in the NW corner, six of which were right (just that aforementioned FATHOMS error...). Grid opened right up.


Somewhat weird that I blanked on COHAN—I could see Cagney in my head very clearly, but I just couldn't for the life of me remember who he was playing. I don't remember who ENID is waiting for (47A: Literary waiter). Geraint? I think it's the Arthurian ENID, but I didn't know she was famous for waiting. That clue was hard. YEA (54A: ___ big) and GILT (30A: Finished elegantly) both slowed me down a bit, but whatever time they cost me was more than made up for when I no-looked *all* the short Acrosses in the NE corner. Just threw all the Downs up—and they all worked. With the exception of SEEPY :( I really liked this grid. Cluing was just OK—more trivia-ish, less clever than yesterday's—but it was good enough. Not sure I woulda gone with the cutesy "?" clue on an abortion-related answer (33A: Classic case of making life choices?). Struck me as slightly yucky and tone deaf. Plus you've got LIFE in the grid (1A) and in another clue besides (16A: Time of one's life, maybe), so maybe ... do something different here. But the ROE V. WADE clue is a minor ding on an otherwise appealing puzzle.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

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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



THEME: none 

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).
• • •

Hey, solver solver. I have to be brief this morning because of early appointments, so I'll just say yes, I liked this. I've seen both constructor names before, but neither has left a very strong impression (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

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

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