Saturday, October 8, 2011

Singer called Jezebel of Jazz / SAT 10-8-11 / Grandpa player Look Who's Talking / Giant brain 1940s / Dream Children author 1822 / Bandleader Three Little Fishies

Constructor: Tim Croce

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: Jerry SLOAN (47D: Hoops Hall-of-Famer Jerry) —
Gerald Eugene "Jerry" Sloan (born March 28, 1942), is an American former National Basketball Association (NBA) player and head coach, and a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame.[1] NBA commissioner David Stern called Sloan "one of the greatest and most respected coaches in NBA history."[2] Sloan had a career regular-season win–loss record of 1,221–803, placing him third all-time in NBA wins.[3] Sloan was only the fifth coach in NBA history to reach the 1,000 victory milestone, and he is the only coach in NBA history to record 1,000 wins with one club (the Utah Jazz). He also coached for one team longer than anyone in NBA history. The 2009–10 season was his 22nd season (and 21st full season) as coach of the Jazz. Sloan coached the Jazz to 15 consecutive playoff appearances from 1989–2003. Although he never won a Coach of the Year award, he is one of only three coaches in NBA history with 15-plus consecutive seasons with a winning record (Pat Riley and Phil Jackson are the others).[3] He led Utah to the NBA Finals in 1997 and 1998, but lost to the Chicago Bulls both times. (wikipedia)
• • •

This must have been pretty easy, as I did it immediately after rolling out of bed, and with the cat intermittently howling for his breakfast, and still finished in well under 10 minutes. There was a kind of false start there at the beginning (where starts usually are ...) when I wrapped up that entire NW section and still had no way to get out. I knew BRASS and AUTOMOBILE and TSAR and couldn't finish any of them off. AUTOMOBILE was a great life line, as it gave me ELAND and then VENT, and then that "V" (combined with AUTOMOBILE's "B") gave me ABE VIGODA (7D: Grandpa player in "Look Who's Talking," 1989), and at that point I was well and truly on my way—from there it was a leisurely stroll to the finish line, with only minor obstacles along the way. You know, little stuff like having IN INK instead of INKED (34A: Permanent, in a way) or failing to remember that horrible Italian partial from Mozart (39D: "___ Pastore" (Mozart opera) => "IL RE").

Bottom half proved Much easier than the top. Wanted PUTS and OPENED before LOCKS and ANSWERED in their respective answers, but I knew both of the names in the SW corner, so unraveling that problem wasn't hard. I think the grid is very nice overall, though there's a slightly off quality to the marquee answers—the central Down and central Across. I hear the phrase DRINK (or DRANK) THE KOOL-AID (15 letters!) a lot. All the time. KOOL-AID DRINKERS (while very inferrable), not so much (37A: Unquestioning adherents). Very rarely. Maybe never. And the "-ED"s on in MIXED AND MATCHED were annoying as well (8D: Like some clothing ensembles). "MIX-AND-MATCH" is a very familiar, in-the-language expression. Put those "-ED"s on there, and the phrase feels clunky. I see, however, that it's used all the time, so I can't get too worked up about it. Never great when you have two answers that are names ending in Roman numerals. Now if there'd been a "III" to go along with LEO I (26A: Predecessor of Pope Hilarius) and TSAR ALEXANDER II (17A: Assassinated leader called "the Liberator"), I'd have found that clever. NOL looks like a negation of LOL, and thus like a perfect expression of how I felt upon uncovering it. NOL-pros? Some legal abbreviation? (yes: nolle prosequi) Terrible.

SØREN was an absolute gimme, as was AT ALL. Those gave me ISLE and KOLN (21A: Largest city in Nordrhein-Westfalen), and thus the NW corner was done. Fast. I thought the [Kind of request in Burns's "To a Mouse"] was going to be a noun, which is stupid, since "kind of" pretty much shouts "adjectival," but my brain works how it works (or doesn't). That ended up being simply SMA, one of many crosswordesey words hidden under somewhat-to-very daunting clues; see also ELIA (31D: "Dream-Children" author, 1822) and ADANO (51D: Fictional Sicilian town in a 1944 novel). ENIAC is crosswordesey, but that clue was daunting in no way (14D: "Giant Brain" of the 1940s). I did not know the Taurus replaced the LTD (11D: The Taurus replaced it). In my head (which is, as we've seen, an unreliable venue) the LTD is longer and boxier, and the Taurus is kind of a fat, rounded version of every four-door sedan on the road. I wouldn't be surprised if at least one person got Naticked by the O'DAY / KYSER crossing (57A: Singer called "The Jezebel of Jazz" / 53D: Bandleader with the hit "Three Little Fishies"). Those are reasonably common crossword names, but crossing two proper nouns, both from old music, seems a little dicey. That "Y" should be inferrable, but ... you never know.

  • 6A: It's often popped on a shoulder (AUTOMOBILE TRUNK) — Another grid-spanning answer that seems slightly clunky, if technically correct. You pop (the colloquialism you've chosen) your TRUNK, not your AUTOMOBILE TRUNK. The very phrase is impossible to imagine in normal human speech. "Do you mean pop the elephant trunk? The steamer trunk? Be specific!" I also resent that the answer isn't HOOD. If you're on the shoulder, chances are *that* is what you've popped. I guess people keep their jacks in their TRUNKS, but still, "pop the hood" is the phrase I most associate with automotive problems. "Pop the trunk" is something we mostly say before loading or unloading luggage.
  • 12D: "Xena: Warrior Princess" role (ARES) — and here I was trying to remember the name of her special little friend.
  • 61D: "Forgot About ___" (2000 Grammy-winning rap) ("DRE") — Feels like it's been a while since I've seen DRE in my grid. Here's the rap in question (all profanity silenced)

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

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