Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Chef's topper / WED 11-30-11 / Plaza Hotel moppet / Imprisoned Peace Nobelist Xiaobo / Dundee who trained Ali / When doubled 1997 Jim Carrey movie

Constructor: Rolf Hamburger

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: ONE (72A: Addition to 18-, 23-, 40-, 54- and 60-Across) — ONE is added to familiar phrases, creating wacky phrases, etc.

Word of the Day: ANGELO Dundee (49D: Dundee who trained Ali) —
Angelo Dundee (born Angelo Mirena on August 30, 1921) is an American boxing cornerman. He is best known for his work with Muhammad Ali (1960–1981), and has worked with 15 world boxing champions, including Sugar Ray Leonard, José Nápoles, George Foreman, Jimmy Ellis, Carmen Basilio, Luis Rodriguez and Willie Pastrano. (wikipedia)
• • •

Not a great week so far. Yesterday, a very tired example of the well-worn "first words have this thing in common" theme type, and now today, a very clunky "insert-a-word" theme that doesn't even bother to have an interesting revealer. Just ... ONE? That's it. You know, the phrase PLUS ONE can mean "a guest that an invitee is allowed to bring to a party." AND ONE is both a basketball shoe company and a phrase in basketball referring to the free throw attempt one is awarded if one is fouled while making a basket. I'm just saying, you could get creative and do Something. One of the main rules for puzzles that involve Wackification is: answers must be funny / clever. The only good one today is STONE AGE COACH. The rest are either awkward or, in the case of GONE IN RUMMY, borderline nonsensical. The grid is adequately filled, but thematically, this puzzle is a bust.

Theme answers:
  • 18A: Team on the receiving end of a prank? (MOONED SQUAD)
  • 23A: "E," "pluribus" or "unum"? (MONEY WORD)
  • 40A: Athletic trainer for Neanderthals? (STONE AGE COACH)
  • 54A: West Coast punk rock group? (L.A. RAMONES)
  • 60A: Entered pie-eyed? (GONE IN RUMMY)

Had a few snags along the way today, starting with AMS instead of AFT (1A: Time in some want ads). No idea why I read "Time" as "Times." Unshockingly, the exact spelling of the [Olive genus] (ugh) didn't come quickly. OLE ... something (OLEA). Remembered YVONNE De Carlo (24D: De Carlo of "The Munsters") but did not remember ANGELO Dundee. Thought 56A: Kind of computing using remote servers (CLOUD) was some kind of computer language like COBOL (clearly didn't read the clue that carefully). Oh, and of course I thought [Some summer fare] would refer to a comestible of some sort, not RE-RUNS. Speaking of which, "M*A*S*H" RE-RUNS are a significant feature of the Bobbie Ann Mason novel In Country, which I now have to get back to reading. So, a few bullets, and then good night.

  • 16A: Plaza Hotel moppet (ELOISE) — in my head, she is the female counterpart to Milo in The Phantom Tollbooth (probably because they are iconic, illustrated literary kids that I encountered at about the same time in my childhood)
  • 10D: Chef's topper (TOQUE) — a very handy piece of high-end crosswordese. Put it in off just the "U"; other crosswordese headwear of note: TAM and KEPI.
  • 11D: Imprisoned Peace Nobelist ___ Xiaobo (LIU) — nice, timely clue. Would be great to see XIAOBO, or even LIUXIAOBO, in the puzzle someday (if it hasn't been in there already).
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

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