Monday, September 12, 2011

Boxer who almost upset Joe Lewis in 1941 / TUE 9-13-11 / Sneakers brand sported by Abdul-Jabbar / Eurasian duck / Lilylike garden plant

Constructor: Patrick McIntyre

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: CON GAME (37A: Scam ... or an apt title for this puzzle?) — four "celebrities" whose last names are homophones of "CON"

Word of the Day: BILLY CONN (62A: Boxer who almost upset Joe Louis in 1941) —
William David Conn (October 8, 1917–May 29, 1993), better known as Billy Conn, was a Light-Heavyweight boxing champion famed for his fights with Joe Louis. He had a professional boxing record of 63 wins, 11 losses and 1 draw, with 14 wins by knockout. His nickname, throughout most of his career, was "The Pittsburgh Kid". (wikipedia)
• • •

Took me exactly one second longer than yesterday's puzzle. This one played on a little on the easy side until I hit the SE corner. BILLY CONN is a mystery to me—needed every cross—and ... let me say this about ALGID. I think that we as a people need to get together and decide: ALGID or GELID. One of them can stay, but the other has to go, because with FRIGID already in the game, there really isn't room for two additional -ID words that mean "cold." I had only vaguely heard of GELID and had never heard of ALGID until I started doing puzzles. I know that I've seen them both, but it's hard enough to dredge one of them up out of the swamp of my crossword memory, let alone remember that there are two that need dredging. ALGID. Bah. (Cager) ELGIN Baylor to NENE to ERSE. It's certainly no worse than what's in place now, and voila, no ALGID. ELGIN beats ALGID by a greater margin than DENT beats NENE (everything else is a push). Q.E.D.

[I said a few days ago that I was going to watch "Breakin'" (1984); I wasn't lying. This (amazing) song is featured prominently]

Theme answers:
  • 14A: "High Hopes" lyricist (SAMMY CAHN)
  • 20A: Singer with the #1 R&B hit "I Feel for You" (CHAKA KHAN)
  • 52A: He was Sonny to Marlon Brando's Vito (JAMES CAAN)
  • 62A: Boxer who almost upset Joe Louis in 1941 (BILLY CONN)
This one was pretty crosswordesed up: SMEW! Haven't seen that one for a while. You see them a lot in ENNA (8D: City of central Sicily), or so I imagine. ERITU is an ARIA sung by ESSENEs (48A: Dead Sea Scrolls ascetic) blah blah OCTAL LAIC IDE ENA OXO ERST ARY. Long Downs are decent, and the center is actually lovely, but you really gotta cut the mold off the edges to enjoy this one.

  • 18A: Lilylike garden plant (HOSTA) — Proud that I remembered this, sad that I wanted to spell it like HASTA la vista, baby.
  • 23A: "Paper Moon" father and daughter (O'NEALS) — Seems like the clue should indicate actors, not characters, but that's a technicality.

  • 30A: Japan's "way of the gods" religion (SHINTO) — part of this puzzle's sweet, creamy middle, along with KOKOMO, which is thankfully clued non-Beach-Boys style (21D: Indiana University campus site).
  • 59A: Allowed to wander, as a chicken (FREE RANGE) — like in that Wordsworth poem, "I Wandered Lonely as a Chicken"
  • 64A: Jonas who developed a polio vaccine (SALK) — I saw "Jonas" and immediately wrote in NICK. I then decided that Dudley Do-Right's heartthrob (NELL) was TESS. You know, TESS Trueheart. But that was Dick Tracy. You can understand my confusion. I mean, those animated guys swapped heartthrobs all the time. I hear.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

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