Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Bandleader Kyser / WED 11-16-11 / Baseball star nicknamed Godzilla / 1960s payola figure Freed / Phenomenon named for infant Jesus / Salad made famous by Julia Child

Constructor: Gary Cee

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: BEER CHASER (62A: Shot follower ... and a hint to the starts of 17-, 23-, 39- and 48-Across) — First words of theme answers can also follow BEER in familiar phrases
  • BOTTLE NECK (17A: Common result of a lane closing) — Beer bottle
  • GARDEN PARTY (23A: Outdoor affair) — Beer garden
  • BARREL OF MONKEYS (39A: Large, fun quantity, in a saying) — Beer barrel
  • BELLY DANCER (48A: Performer with sinuous moves) — Beer belly

Word of the Day: KAY Kyser (41D: Bandleader Kyser) —
James Kern (“Kay”) Kyser (June 18, 1905 – July 23, 1985) was a popular bandleader and radio personality of the 1930s and 1940s. [...] Following graduation, Kyser and his band, which included Sully Mason on saxophone and arranger George Duning, toured Midwest restaurants and night clubs and gradually built a following. They were particularly popular at Chicago's Blackhawk restaurant, where Kyser came up with an act combining a quiz with music which became "Kay Kyser’s Kollege of Musical Knowledge." The act was broadcast on the Mutual Radio in 1938 and then moved to NBC Radio from 1939 to 1949. The show rose in the ratings and spawned many imitators. Kyser led the band as “The Ol’ Perfessor,” spouting catchphrases: “That’s right—you’re wrong”, “Evenin’ folks, how y’all?” and “C'mon, chillun! Le's dance!” (wikipedia)
• • •
I guess there aren't really any familiar phrases starting with BONG or GOGGLES ...

Hey look, I found Tuesday's puzzle. It was hiding in Wednesday's paper. I did this with almost no hesitation, and was actually surprised / disappointed to find that I had a time over 4 minutes. I solved this first thing on waking, without aid of any liquid stimulant, and so I don't think peak speed was attainable. Anyhoo, there were only a couple of places where I actually had to think today. Wrote in THOU for THEE and couldn't make sense of 10A: January 1 game at all. Even when I got it, I thought "Does he mean ROSE BOWL?" Then I realized that BOWL describes any number of games being played on that date. OK. Also could not remember "WHEAT penny" (12D: ___ penny (pre-1959 cent)) (I'm currently reading Stephen King's new book "11/22/1963," in which our time-traveling protagonist alights initially in the last year of the WHEAT penny ...). Later, I blanked briefly on MATSUI (43A: Baseball star nicknamed Godzilla) and confused AMU Darya with ABU Dhabi (35D: ___ Darya (river of central 58-Down)). Other than that, no resistance. A very smooth puzzle overall. Simple theme concept, nicely executed. A good revealer is the key to these "first words have X in common" puzzles, and this one has one.

  • 1A: Some undies (BVDS) — briefly (!) considered BRAS. But then VLOG set me straight (2D: Journal on YouTube, maybe)
  • 8D: Social contract theorist John (LOCKE) — Also, apparently, a character on "Lost." Not that I'd know.
  • 27D: ___ Freed, 1960s payola figure (ALAN) — Saw his name just the other day while searching down info for a clue for LES PAUL (both early inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame).
  • 51D: Kind of football with eight-player teams (ARENA) — hesitated here as well. This kind of football is not on my radar at all. I mean, I know it exists, but have no idea where it's played, by whom, etc.
  • 45D: Phenomenon named for the infant Jesus (EL NIÑO) — wow. I had no idea. Weird naming choice for such a potentially destructive phenomenon. Baby Jesus brings you ... drought and floods! 

  • 25D: Kind of salad made famous by Julia Child (NIÇOISE) — had the "NI-" so this was easy. I didn't know she made it popular.
  • 22D: Warren ___, baseball's winningest lefty (SPAHN) — Just saw his picture yesterday, juxtaposed with Randy Johnson's, in this giant "Sports Illustrated" book that was on a Barnes & Noble "Giant Gift Books" table. So far, B&N seems to be resisting the urge to put Santas and elves and reindeer everywhere (before Thanksgiving!). The same cannot be said for CVS, Wal-Mart, etc...
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

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