Sunday, December 11, 2011

Former Houston footballer / MON 12-12-11 / Gloomy in verse / Dutch painter Jan / Onionlike soup ingredients

Constructor: Gary Cee

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: ERS (37A: Hosp. parts ... or what the answers to the six starred clues each have twice) — six two-word phrases, where both words end in -ER

 Word of the Day: VLOG (19A: Journal on YouTube, maybe) —
(Video bLOG) A Weblog (blog) that includes video clips to be downloaded and viewed immediately or transferred to a portable player. Also called a "vog," "vid-blog" and "movie blog," the vlog can be exclusively videos with text used only for captions, or text entries may be included. A venue for people who like to remix audio, video and graphics in some artistic expression, as well as novice and experienced videographers and movie makers, the material is distributed in popular video formats such as Windows Media, QuickTime and Flash. See diavlog, blog, audioblog and vidcast.
• • •

I just can't get too excited about a bunch of -ER words. I consider them my mortal enemy. Well, my enemy, at any rate. Hyperbole? Maybe. Yes. But still. I stand by my feelings.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: *One who's an empty threat (PAPER TIGER)
  • 26A: *Willie Mays, positionally (CENTERFIELDER)
  • 45A: *What a waiter might be holding when he says "Say when" (PEPPER GRINDER)
  • 59A: *Lawn-Boy or Toro product (POWER MOWER)
  • 10D: *Enclosure with a manuscript or résumé (COVER LETTER)
  • 23D: *Spider-Man's alter ego (PETER PARKER)
The fill on this one is solid and the interlocking theme answers are a nice touch. This one was very easy, as almost all Mondays are, but there are degrees of Easy ... so let me give you some sense of the difference between fast and blistering. Today I was fast. Normal fast. It doesn't take much in the way of speed bumps to keep me in the normal range on a Monday. It almost always feels like I could break my own speed records, but for that to happen, I have to play the Whole Thing almost flawlessly, and today, I had four slip-ups—they probably cost me only 30 seconds total, but that's an ocean of time on a Monday. First, DUPE (3D: Bamboozle). Just couldn't find it. Couldn't find the handle. D- ... DU- ... nope. Needed the "P" from PAPER TIGER before I saw it. Minor glitch, but the toggling / thought time cost several seconds. Then there was LEGS (13D: Important parts of dancers). I brilliantly wrote in TOES. Seemed a better answer, though admittedly I was thinking of ballet specifically, and not dance generally. Anyway, committing to a wrong answer is a bit of a killer, as the undoing, however quickly done, is costly. Another miscue with POWER TOOLS ... the clue's not even in the plural, so my answer doesn't make sense, but POWER MOWER, in the 21st century, is basically a MOWER, so that phrase just wasn't leaping to mind. Worst of all was STILLERS. I had everything but the "I" and still didn't get it. Figured I had a wrong cross somewhere. Only after getting PEPPER GRINDER did I remember that actors Ben STILLER and Jerry STILLER are son and father. And that, my fellow solvers, is all the resistance it takes to turn a sub-3-minute solve (Easy) into a mid-3-minute solve (Medium) 

  • 16A: Woodwind able to provide an orchestra's tuning note (OBOE) — "able to"? That sounds weird. It generally *does* provide said note. What's this "able to"?
  • 39: Dutch painter Jan (STEEN) — "Daily life was Jan Steen's main pictorial theme. Many of the genre scenes he portrayed, as in The Feast of Saint Nicholas, are lively to the point of chaos and lustfulness, even so much that a Jan Steen household, meaning a messy scene, became a Dutch proverb (een huishouden van Jan Steen)". (wikipedia)
  • 53A: Former Houston footballer (OILER) — the current Houston footballers *just* (yesterday) clinched their first playoff berth ... ever.
  • 62A: Actor/songwriter Novello (IVOR) — crosswordese of a pretty high order.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

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