Rudy with megaphone / THU 12-29-11 / g2g follower / Muckracker Tarbell / Spanish muralist / Old bus maker / Zoological wings
Thursday, December 29, 2011
Constructor: David Steinberg
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: PIZZAZZ — 17A: Start of a brainteaser whose answer appears in order, from top to bottom, in this puzzle's circled squares (NAME THE ONE / SEVEN-LETTER WORD / IN ENGLISH THAT / CANNOT BE PUT DOWN / IN SCRABBLE)
Word of the Day: Rudy VALLÉE (2D: Rudy with a megaphone) —
Rudy Vallée (July 28, 1901 – July 3, 1986) was an American singer, actor, bandleader, and entertainer. [...] Vallée became the most prominent and, arguably, the first of a new style of popular singer, the crooner. Previously, popular singers needed strong projecting voices to fill theaters in the days before the electric microphone. Crooners had soft voices that were well suited to the intimacy of the new medium of the radio. Vallée's trombone-like vocal phrasing on "Deep Night" would inspire later crooners such as Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Perry Como to model their voices on jazz instruments. // Vallée also became what was perhaps the first complete example of the 20th century mass media pop star. Flappers mobbed him wherever he went. His live appearances were usually sold out, and even if his singing could hardly be heard in those venues not yet equipped with the new electronic microphones, his screaming female fans went home happy if they had caught sight of his lips through the opening of the trademark megaphone he sang through. A brief caricature of him in the Fleischer Brothers' color Betty Boop theatrical short cartoon from 1934 Poor Cinderella depicts him singing through a megaphone. (wikipedia)
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Before I even saw this puzzle I got an email about the puzzle from a fellow solver that consisted entirely of anguished exclamations. This is probably the only reason I wasn't unduly pained by the puzzle. I was pained. Just not unduly. Never did like the instructions-as-answers gimmick, and this is 63 squares worth of instructions. PIZZAZZ letters go in order from top to bottom, but they're a bit of a mess. And then there's the fill—I should be happy at the preponderance of crosswordese, because I destroyed this grid. ODAS, bam! SERT, bam! (60D: Spanish muralist) SDS, bam! Take that, SE corner. ALAE?! (4D: Zoological wings) Pfft, child's play. HOER!? I barely knoer! And yet instead of feeling happy at my success, I have that sickly feeling I imagine one has when one shoots a deer in one of those deer parks where they're essentially tame and you know you're gonna get one. No joy. I HEART is very inventive stuff (6D: Start of many a bumper sticker), but I don't have much to say about the rest of it. That NW corner, man ... nah, I'll just stop here. You get the idea.
- 1A: Wagner heroine (EVA) — needed every cross and just guessed at the "V" (at that point, I may have been thinking that Rudy VALLÉE was Frankie Valli, or else a Notre Dame cheerleader (I never saw the movie "Rudy," so I don't really know the details)
- 19A: City in the San Gabriel Valley (EL MONTE) — I lived in said Valley for four years. Have no recollection of a place called EL MONTE, even though it *is* the 51st largest city in California.
- 22A: John XI's successor (LEO VII) — a random LEO! Who doesn't like those!?
- 39A: 10th- to 12th-century Chinese dynasty (LIAO) — Yiao! Did not know.
- 50A: 1944 Sartre play ("NO EXIT") — one of the first works I ever read entirely in French. Most memorable quote: "L'enfer, c'est les autres."
- 48A: Muckraker Tarbell (IDA) — another crosswordese Hero. Sometimes I get "muckraker" and "Moonraker" confused in my head. Sometimes. A little.
- 46D: Person with a conical hat, maybe (WIZARD) — took me several stabs, despite the fact that I'm currently in the middle of reading "The Hobbit"
- 56D: "g2g" follower (BYE) — apparently I do not text nearly enough, or with the right people. Had to ask what "g2g" meant after I was done. "Got to go" (or "gotta go"). BYE? Not C YA or something equally pithy? And why waste the keystroke on the "E." BY or BB (for bye-bye) would work just as well, I'd think.