Tuesday, January 24, 2012

1941 Frank Capra film / TUE 1-24-12 / He played Jin-Soo Kwon on Lost / Noted talk show retiree of 2011 / Site of Haleakala National Park

Constructor: Alex Boisvert

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: D- bag — theme answers all three-word phrases containing word "D-E," where center letter of that word changes with each answer, running through all vowels from A to Y

Word of the Day: THE EDGE (42D: U2 guitarist) —
David Howell Evans (born 8 August 1961), more widely known by his stage name The Edge (or just Edge), is a musician best known as the guitarist, backing vocalist, and keyboardist of the Irish rock band U2. A member of the group since its inception, he has recorded 12 studio albums with the band and has released one solo record. As a guitarist, The Edge has crafted a minimalistic and textural style of playing. His use of a rhythmic delay effect yields a distinctive ambient, chiming sound that has become a signature of U2's music. // As a member of U2 and as an individual, The Edge has campaigned for human rights and philanthropic causes. He co-founded Music Rising, a charity to support musicians affected by Hurricane Katrina. He has collaborated with U2 bandmate Bono on several projects, including songs for Roy Orbison and Tina Turner, and the soundtracks to the musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark and the Royal Shakespeare Company's London stage adaptation of A Clockwork Orange. In 2011, Rolling Stone magazine placed him at number 38 on its list of "The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time". (wikipedia)
• • •

A weird Tuesday outing. First, I learned that DANIEL DAE KIM (Korea's answer to Daniel Day-Lewis?) is famous enough to be a theme answer. I know "Lost" was a popular show, but ... I've certainly had puzzles rejected for "too obscure" theme answers that had greater name recognition than him. Second, so much black. 44 dang squares. Then I noticed that the grid was 16 wide and has 81 (!) answers (max is 78, typically, but I guess that extra column buys you 3 more??? I have a 16-wide coming out, and I remember thinking "still gotta keep it under 78"; and I did. Apparently there are rules, and then there are rules. Good to know). Throw in a handful of cheater squares and you have a somewhat interesting vowel progression theme inside a not-too-interesting grid filled with mostly 3-5-letter words.

Theme answers:
  • 18A: He played Jin-Soo Kwon on "Lost" (DANIEL DAE KIM)
  • 20A: "Through the Looking-Glass" character (TWEEDLE-DEE) — one of only two snags I had in the puzzle. Wrote in DUM because I thought the cross was RUM (16D: Drink sometimes indicated in comics by "XXX" — ALE)
  • 31A: Some collectible toys (DIE-CAST CARS)
  • 41A: 1941 Frank Capra film ("MEET JOHN DOE")
  • 55A: Cornerstone of the American legal system (DUE PROCESS)
  • 59A: Some hippie wear (TIE-DYE SHIRTS) — my second snag: I thought the hippie (singular) was wearing a TIE-DYED SHIRT 
There is a *kind* of symmetry in the "D-E" word placement within the theme answers. Second third first  third first second. Then there's the vowel progression—another nice feature. Dense theme, good theme answers, adequate grid, Tuesday-easy.

  • 29A: Site of Haleakala National Park (MAUI) — seemed a good guess off of "-A-I"; BALI or CALI or MALI seemed unlikely
  • 1D: "Cop Killer" singer who went on to play a cop on TV (ICE-T) — never did like "Law & Order" in any of its incarnations, but ICE-T's reality show "Ice Loves Coco"—now that's good TV.

  • 52D: Noted talk show retiree of 2011 (OPRAH) — she gave her name to crosswords. She will be missed. 
I've decided that from now on, I'm calling U2's guitarist "THEEDGE" — one word, one syllable. Sure, it's silly, but is it really any more silly than THE EDGE?
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

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