Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Direction to alternative musical passage / WED 9-7-11 / Richard with much-used thumb / Figure of many Mayan deity / Singer whose name was once symbol

Constructor: Jim Hilger

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: FOLLOW (54A: Word missing from the answers to 17-, 23-, 29-, 40-, 47- and 62-Across) — all theme answers are missing this *initial* word, that is, grid contains only the parts of the answer that FOLLOW "FOLLOW"

Word of the Day: OSSIA (33A: Direction to an alternative music passage) —
conj. Music
Or else. Used as a direction to the performer to designate an alternate section or passage.

[Italian, from o sia, or let it be : o, or (from Latin aut) + sia, third person sing. present subjunctive of essere, to be (from Latin esse).]

• • •

Piece of cake. Theme was almost too easy to get. ORDERS wasn't making any kind of sense as it came into view, and then I looked up and saw what looked like THE BOUNCING ... and then I easily supplied FOLLOW and off I went. Most of the theme answers just filled themselves in after that—in fact, I'm pretty sure that for at least a couple of them, I didn't even have to look at the clue: crosses told me what the answer would be. Not the most exciting theme type (though one of the three puzzles I've had published to date had *exactly* this theme type, so I can't complain too much). I did like "[FOLLOW] THAT CAR," probably because I've just begun a new semester of teaching crime fiction; but the rest were just ... phrases. Oh, [FOLLOW] THE BOUNCING BALL was nice, too. All in all, a solid example of this theme type, with little in the way of either difficulty or cruddiness.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Sing-along direction (THE BOUNCING BALL)
  • 23A: Obey (ORDERS)
  • 29A: Children's game (THE LEADER)
  • 40A: Chase scene shout ("THAT CAR!")
  • 47A: Pursue a passion (ONE'S HEART)
  • 62A: Do as a mentor did, say (IN ONE'S FOOTSTEPS) — this doesn't feel like it was clued correctly, esp. following 47A, where "ONE'S" is understood as "one's own"; here, the gist of "ONE'S" seems to be "someone else's." Awkward.

There were a couple of speedbumps that kept this from being a real speedfest. OSSIA was today's superstumper. I also forgot that ARMY was the Team nicknamed the Black Knights, and didn't know that the JAGUAR was a Figure of many a Mayan deity. Didn't know Krugerrands came in KARATs (58A: One of 22 in a Krugerrand). Hesitated over AGE GROUP for a bit (39D: Demographic division). Otherwise, no sweat.

  • 69A: Longtime mall chain (GAP) — When did GAP lose the "THE?" I don't think of the GAP as a "mall chain," and yet I've never been in one that wasn't in a mall. So clearly I don't really Think about GAP that much. Probably OK.
  • 8D: Singer whose "name" was once a symbol (PRINCE) — Quotation marks struck me as odd at first—weird to put "name" in quotation marks. "PRINCE" is, in fact, a name, whether it's his birth name or not (it is). But I see that what's being quotationated is the idea that a symbol could properly be considered a name. OK.

  • 10D: Dyne-centimeter (ERG) — good ol' ERG. Don't see him around much anymore.
  • 19A: Netanyahu's successor, 1999 (BARAK) — his first name, EHUD, is also crossworthy.
  • 51D: Richard with a much-used thumb (ROEPER) — Ebert's longtime movie-rating partner. That's how he was using his thumb: putting it up, or putting it down. Whatever dirty ideas *you* had about how he was "using" his thumb, you can put them out of your mind right now.
Happy first day of middle school to my daughter. Also, happy "2nd puzzle published in the L.A. Times" day to me (click here to download .pdf).

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

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