Thursday, September 15, 2011

1990 Clint Eastwood cop film / FRI 9-16-11 / Actress Diana / Minnesota home of Martin Luther College / Morse who sang "Cow-Cow Boogie"

Constructor: Joe DiPietro

Relative difficulty: Challenging

THEME: none

Word of the Day: ELF OWLS (46A: Small night creatures) —
The Elf Owl (Micrathene whitneyi) is a member of the owl family Strigidae that breeds in the southwestern United States and Mexico. It is the world's lightest owl, although the Long-whiskered Owlet and the Tamaulipas Pygmy-owl are of a similarly diminutive length.[2] The mean body weight of this species is 40 grams (1.4 oz). These tiny owls are 12.5 to 14.5 cm (4.7-5.5 in) long and have a wingspan of about 27 cm (10.6 in).[3] Their primary projection extends nearly past their tail. They have fairly long legs and often appear bow-legged. They can often be heard calling to one another just after dusk or at sunset. Their call is a high-pitched whinny or chuckle. The male and female dart around trees and call back and forth. (wikipedia)
• • •
RP is away at some fellow's wedding this weekend, so you've got some guest bloggers filling in for the next few day. I'll leave my identity a mystery until the end of this post - you can be like one of the owls in this post asking, "Who?"

There were many people in this puzzle I've never heard of. Frankly, I doubt I'll ever hear of them again. Who is (33A: Wallace) STEGNER (who wrote "Angle of Repose")? I suppose that question answers itself. The Modern Library listed it as #82 on its list of top English-language novels of the 20th century, which I guess makes it fair game, but doesn't change my ignorance. Fair enough are THIN OUT (2D: Become sparse) and the cute (3D: Change one's image, in a way?) for RESCALE. That's something I'm fairly familiar with as a substitute blogger - grabbing pics from the net and rescaling them. Do we need both "in a way" and the ? in the clue? I don't think so. There was only one word crossing this one that I didn't think was completely fair, but the letter was guessable. We'll get to it shortly.

Who was  (6D: Actress Diana) DORS? Turns out she was the "English Marilyn Monroe." Diana Dors fun-facts:

  • When she was 20, she was the youngest registered owner of a Rolls Royce.
  • She was once married to "Family Feud" host Richard Dawson and gave him two children.
  • She was born Diana Fluck, but changed her name. Can't imagine why, especially since much of her work was borderline pornographic.

And who is ELLA MAE? She's Ms. (38D: Moore who sang "Cow-Cow Boogie"). There is not other option but to just simply let you listen to the song:

Who is NOAM (22A: Pitlik who directed "Barney Miller" and "Mr. Belvedere")? Again, I guess I've answer the question myself. Prolific TV director and actor with many supporting/ancillary roles. How I'd know his name I'll never know, but he's won an Emmy for outstanding direction, so I guess that makes him fair game. His crossing are a subset of Stegner's no no great issue here. But we do have a big Where? to contend with.

You might remember Rex's Natick Principle from a few years back. Tell me: Where is NEW ULM? (Okay, it's the (29D: Minnesota home of Martin Luther College).) But have you heard of it before? Fact: There are more characters on the Wikipedia page for New Ulm than people in that town. (Admittedly, Tippi Hedren was born there.)
I think it qualifies as a place that less than a quarter of solvers - even Friday solvers! - have heard of. So it's an educated guess on Stegner, an "I think so" on TWA being the (35A: Old "One mission. Yours." sloganeer) and figuring out that it's an M to start MFG, the (49: Abbr. before "Co." in some company names). Fairly fair, as I guessed right on all of them, but it felt like there was much more luck than I cared for here. This isn't a craps table; luck shouldn't be a big factor. And it looks like it should be New Elm, but you know HEINOUS has to be right for (37A: Worse than awful) - at least once you move past trying to fit HELLISH in. Did you have as big an issue with New Elm as I did? I feel like I'm channeling Angry Rex - perhaps he's displeased with his hotel accommodations. Let's go to a happy place.

No "who" necessary for HAN SOLO, though - that (47A: Reckless smuggler of sci-fi) was played by none other than Kris Kristofferson. What follows is perhaps the most memorable scene from all six films:

Han was the first thing to fall with 100% certainty, so I worked from there slowly but sure. Man this took a while and was just a bunch of jumping all over.

  • (1A: Reduce to bare bonesSTRIP DOWN — This is one of those entries where, were it not in The Times, I imagine the clue would been much more colorful, like (Pay a poker penalty) or something like that.
  • (31A: FirmAL DENTE — Too often I go to restaurants and they claim al dente but the word they are looking for is raw. Please don't undercook your pasta!
  • (63A: Spread quickly over the Internet) GONE VIRAL — Like my favorite, Nyan Cat! He's so cute! Wait - did you think that was a real cat? Nope!
  • (39D: "From my perspective..."I, FOR ONE — And this entry could clue answers like FIRST PERSON PRONOUN and ROMAN NUMERAL. I smell a chain theme coming in the future where theme entries are clued by the previous entries. Not sure whether I look forward to solving something like that.
  • (37D: Alice Cooper's appropriately titled theme song for "Friday the 13th, Part VI"HE'S BACK — This is an appropriate one to end on as I reveal my identity - the song first, and then my name.
Signed, Neville, Prince of CrossWorld

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