Saturday, January 21, 2012

Funeral song in Scotland / SUN 1-22-12 / Hero who debuted in Weird Tales 1932 / Villains in 1939's Stagecoach / Hallmark of Philadelphia sound / Duo with 2003 hit All Things She Said / Switched On Bach instrument

Constructor: Adam Fromm

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: "Snow White's Employment Agency" — all clues follow [Bad job for [dwarf name]?] pattern.

Word of the Day: CORONACH (52D: Funeral song in Scotland) —
A coronach (also written coranich, corrinoch, coranach, cronach, etc.) is the Scottish Gaelic equivalent of the Goll,being the third part of a round of keening, the traditional improvised singing at a death, wake or funeral in the Highlands of Scotland and in Ireland. Though observers have reported hearing such songs in Ireland or in the Scottish Highlands, and melodies have been noted down and printed since the 18th century, audio recordings are rare; not only was the practice dying out or being supressed through the 19th century, but it was also considered by its practicioners to have been a very personal and spiritual practice, not suitable for performance or recording. (wikipedia)
• • •

Good idea. Very cute. Dopey's bad job was super-arbitrary (ALGEBRA TEACHER) and Doc's wasn't really a job at all (VILLAGE IDIOT), but other than that, the answers were pretty close to spot-on. Grid was easy to move through, though the west felt disproportionately tough—in part, perhaps, because of the arbitrariness of the Dopey answer (i.e. could've been *anything* TEACHER). My lanterns at the start of evening were UNLIT (duh), not RELIT. My experience with MINIMs is in the realm of medieval manuscripts, so this MINIM didn't leap immediately to mind (38D: Half note), and SOCIABLE (49D: Convivial) ... well, I didn't have the "B," so even with SOCIA- I didn't get anywhere at first (SOCIAL didn't fit, SOCIALLY was the wrong part of speech). A word about TATU (64D: Duo with the 2003 hit "All the Things She Said")—that word is 'ugh.' They were never big here. Two girls have a top 20 hit one year, kiss on TV, like, once, and now they're an acceptable crossword answer? No. Yes, 4-letter "U"-ending words are in short supply and Very Very necessary to constructors, but No. Banish. (I'm surprised to see this answer only once in the cruciverb database, and then only as a var. of TATTOO—I could've sworn I'd seen this "band" in puzzles before. Let's just make sure it never happens again).

Theme answers:
  • Bad occupation for Happy? (GOTH MUSICIAN)
  • Bad occupation for Sleepy? (NIGHT WATCHMAN)
  • Bad occupation for Sneezy? (FLORAL ARRANGER)
  • Bad occupation for Grumpy? (MOTIVATIONAL SPEAKER)
  • Bad occupation for Dopey? (ALGEBRA TEACHER)
  • Bad occupation for Doc? (VILLAGE IDIOT)
  • Bad occupation for Bashful? (TV PERSONALITY)   
Tripped hard on CORONACH, a word I've never seen ever. That "H" was a total guess, though seemed like the most plausible letter, however improbably it might be that any novel would end with the word "THE" (86A: Last word of "Finnegans Wake"). Other "never heard of it" words include VOLAR (98D: Relating to the palm of the hand) (because the palms are what you fly with?), and CANEM (4D: Cave ___) (Latin for "Beware the dog" [!?]). Put in BIGWIGS when what was called for was (the much worse) BIGGIES (115A: Honchos). Got stumped by both "market" clues—didn't know "Best" was a verb in 84A: Best in the market (OUTSELL), and thought the [One going to market] was a person of some kind, not the PRODUCT itself. I would not have known how to spell ALAKAZAM (46D: "Voilà!"). It's about the most exciting thing in the grid.

  • 32A: Hero who debuted in Weird Tales magazine in 1932 (CONAN) — I used to read this comic and it still took me forever to figure out which hero was intended. I think I know too many pulp heroes. 
  • 44A: Villains in 1939's "Stagecoach" (APACHES) — A John Ford film I have never seen. I should fix that.
  • 105A: Hippocampus hippocampus, e.g. (SEAHORSE) — pfft, no way. I mean, in retrospect, yes, "hippo" means "horse," I know that much, but the hippocampus is a part of your brain, right? Needed many a cross to pick this one up.
  • 25A: Group with the 1995 #1 hit "Waterfalls" (TLC) — hard to remember now, but for a few years in the '90s, they were Huge. I remember seeing their TV debut on "Arsenio" and thinking "What The...?"

  • 82D: "Switched-On Bach" instrument (MOOG) — clueless once again, but a four-letter "instrument" starting with "M" can't be many things, and the "Switched-On" clue helped me get this one right.
  • 96D: Hallmark of the Philadelphia sound (HORNS) — some great acts were part of this "sound," particularly Melvin & the Blue Notes. Here's some O'Jays for you.

  • 99D: Apple software bundle that includes GarageBand (iLIFE) — well it's i-something, right? I'm a Mac owner, so this wasn't tough. 
  • 104D: "The Gondoliers" bride (TESSA) — if I knew anything at all about "The Gondoliers," this would be the time when I would tell you. 
A million thanks to everyone who made a financial contribution to this blog over the past week. It means more to me than I can say.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

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