Saturday, October 29, 2011

Untouchables villain / SUN 10-30-11 / William Morris workers / Subject of Magritte painting / Classical Italian typeface / Cousin of ampule

Constructor: Andrea Carla Michaels and Patrick Blindauer

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: "Hollywood from Right to Left" — Movie titles have an "R" changed to an "L," creating wacky titles, clued "?"-style

Word of the Day: HEL (5D: Daughter of Loki) —
In Norse mythology, Hel is a being who presides over a realm of the same name, where she receives a portion of the dead. Hel is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson. In addition, she is mentioned in poems recorded in Heimskringla and Egils saga that date from the 9th and 10th century respectively. An episode in the Latin work Gesta Danorum, written in the 12th century by Saxo Grammaticus, is generally considered to refer to Hel, and Hel may appear on various Migration Period bracteates. // In the Poetic Edda, Prose Edda, and Heimskringla, Hel is referred to as a daughter of Loki, and to "go to Hel" is to die. In the Prose Edda book Gylfaginning, Hel is described as having been appointed by the god Odin as ruler of a realm of the same name, located in Niflheim. In the same source, her appearance is described as half-black and half-flesh colored, and as further having a gloomy, down-cast appearance. The Prose Edda details that Hel rules over vast mansions, her servants in her underworld realm, and as playing a key role in the attempted resurrection of the god Baldr. (wikipedia)

• • •

Very cute, though the fact that there are Rs that don't got to L in the theme answers undermines the whole concept just a little. ANGEL MANAGEMENT is and FANTASTIC FOUL didn't work well for me because the movie involved in the former is not that famous and the movie involved in the latter is much, much better known as a comic. The funniest answer by a longshot was PILATES OF THE CARIBBEAN (though, unlike all the others, that one involves a massive pronunciation change in the affected word). Fill is lively an interesting throughout. Only things I really balked at were HEL (barely heard of her) and TINLIKE (which feels pretty rickety—about as solid as [any element]LIKE) (60A: Cheap and flimsy, as metal). Stunned to see "IL TROVATORE" again (the odds of an 11-letter word appearing in back-to-back puzzles must be pretty damned long) (17D: Opera whose second act is called "The Gypsy"). Really disliked the clue on TWO, mainly because the clue made no sense to me (86A: Number of X's in this puzzle's answer). There are multiple "answer"s in the puzzle. The puzzle does not have one "answer." My first instinct was to write in "OOO," thinking the clue was somehow playing around with the crossword convention of cluing a tic-tac-toe line; thus "OOO" would be zero. It made sense at the time. In my head. It did. I have no idea what ENDICOTT College is (32D: College in Beverly, Mass.), but ENDICOTT, NY is just down the street from me. It has a couple of claims to fame, most notably for being the "birthplace of IBM" (true fact), the birthplace of Johnny Hart (of "B.C." comic strip fame), and the childhood home of David Sedaris (who was born in Binghamton).

Theme answers:
  • 23A: One of St. Peter's heavenly duties? (ANGEL MANAGEMENT)
  • 42A: "Snakes on a Plane," e.g.? (SCALY MOVIE)
  • 52A: What a lazy mover prefers to carry? (THE LIGHT STUFF) — good clue
  • 67A: Workout class on a pleasure cruise? (PILATES OF THE CARIBBEAN)
  • 88A: Unbelievable court infraction? (FANTASTIC FOUL)
  • 96A: Cabby's nonstop patter? (TAXI DRIVEL)
  • 119A: Guests at a Hatfield/McCoy marriage ceremony? (WEDDING CLASHERS)
The NE corner is like a crosswordese convention—Miss ELLIE rubbing elbows with LITA Ford, Frank NITTI (25A: "The Untouchables" villain) crossing paths with Joseph ALIOTO (16D: 1960s-'70s San Francisco mayor). IMEDLA Marcos and Sheena EASTON wanted to get in (45D: "Morning Train" singer, 1981), but as you can see, they were kept waiting just outside—not enough grid cred. Sorry ladies.

  • 50A: Subject of a Magritte painting (PIPE) — no, "Ceci n'est PAS une pipe," so there's nothing to see here. Move along.
  • 74A: William Morris workers (AGENTS) — not a good time to confuse William Morris and Philip Morris.
  • 75A: Cousin of an ampule (VIAL) — I had FEUF for FIEF (71D: Feudal estate) and so had VEAL here at first. "What the hell kind of meat is ampule!?"
  • 81A: Film special effects, briefly (CGI) — Me: "EFX?"

  • 2D: Classical Italian typeface (ARNO) — I did not know this. ARNO is a river to me. A crosswordesey river.
  • 12D: City that was the site of three battles in the Seven Years' War (QUÉBEC) — Damn. All those [This Many] Years' Wars had me thinking Europe.
  • 47D: Ancient May birthstones (AGATES) — ??? AGATES are ancient? Or ... these used to be May birthstones in ancient times? I'm confused.
  • 61D: Automaker since 1974 (KIA) — Sportage is on my list of potential cars (down the list, but on it). We are, as of now, a one-car family.
  • 101D: Co-star of Kate and Farrah, in 1970s TV (JACLYN) — that's a nice, economical spelling. None of this Frenchified "QU" business. Just brass tacks.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

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