Monday, November 21, 2011

Fayetteville campus briefly / TUE 11-22-11 / Ancient Chinese divination book / Opposite of alta / When doubled displaying affection

Constructor: Victor Fleming

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: Pronouns — seven theme answers begin with WE, I, THEY, HE, YOU, SHE, and IT, respectively

Word of the Day: "HE GOT GAME" (50A: 1998 Spike Lee joint) —
He Got Game is a 1998 American sports-drama film written and directed by Spike Lee. It stars Denzel Washington as Jake Shuttlesworth, a prison inmate convicted for killing his wife. The father of the top-ranked basketball prospect in the country, Jesus Shuttlesworth (played by NBA star Ray Allen), Jake is released on parole for a week by the state's governor in order to persuade his son to play for the governor's alma mater in exchange for a heavily-reduced prison sentence. (wikipedia)
• • •
I had no idea what the theme of this puzzle was until well after I was finished. Well, not "well" after ... maybe 15 seconds after. Started out seeming very easy, and then I hit some of the odder, more vaguely clued theme answers, and things toughened up slightly. Strangely, my biggest trouble was in the SE, where I could not for the life of me make sense of the clue 67A: Election Day no. (even just now, I typed "mo."). My brain was like "NOV? TUE? NOV? TUE? etc." I had no idea what "no." could be at issue. I had the "P" but that didn't help. It only made me doubt SOAPY. Also started doubting NOPE for 59A: "Can't help ya!" (not the most exact match, to my ear). So I lost time mainly to fumbling, not to any intrinsic difficulty, though I do think some of the theme answers are going to slow people up. Clue on "I CAN DREAM" is vague (also, is that really the best "I" phrase out there??). And "HE GOT GAME" wasn't exactly a ground-breaking, memorable film. Still, those theme answers are at least interesting, which is more than I can say for most of the rest of the grid.  Not a big fan of ABCTV (who calls it that?) or SOR. (again, really?) or U OF A (Vic's just shoehorning in a reference to his home state here) (42A: Fayetteville campus, briefly). Overall, this is fairly typical Tuesday fare—just fine, nothing to write home about.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Shout upon reaching a destination ("WE MADE IT!") 
  • 34D: "Just my luck" ("IT FIGURES") — at this point, I figured we had an "IT expressions" theme
  • 26A: "Wouldn't that be nice" ("I CAN DREAM")
  • 38A: Intro to many an adage ("THEY SAY...")
  • 50A: 1998 Spike Lee joint ("HE GOT GAME") — sort of surprised to see the clue use "joint" in this context; it's how Lee refers to his own films, but I've never see anyone else ever refer to their films that way (unless they were aping / parodying Lee)
  • 63A: "Well, look who's back!" ("YOU AGAIN!?")
  • 11D: Wicked women (SHE-DEVILS)  

KISSY KISSY would be a great answer. As a half-phrase, it's only so-so. "Hizzoner" would also be a great answer (MAYOR). Of the LEWs you are likely to see in crosswords, all of them have last names ending in "A"—Alcindor (aka Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), Ayres (an actor, I think), and Archer (detective in Ross Macdonald novels). Something oddly amusing (to me) about having ICHING and ITCHES right on top of each other. Was discussing Tatum O'NEAL in "Paper Moon" just the other day in class, in the context of teaching "Taxi Driver" (Academy Award-nominated child actress connection—O'NEAL won).

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

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