Boss Tweed lampooner / WED 1-2-13 / Singer/actress Luft / Actress Pflug / Japan's largest active volcano / Hit for Guy Lombardo 1937 Jimmy Dorsey 1957 / FDA banned diet pill ingredient / Italian city that is title setting of Walpole novel / Newsgroup system since 1980 /
Wednesday, January 2, 2013
Constructor: David Steinberg
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: FROOT / LOOPS (1A: With 71-Across, breakfast choice .. or a punny hint to this puzzle's theme) — circles in the grid form loops, and those loops spell out types of fruit.
Word of the Day: JO ANN Pflug (51D: Actress Pflug) —
Jo Ann Pflug (born May 2, 1940) is a former American motion picture and television actress, who retired in 1997.Pflug's first major role was as U.S. Army nurse Lt. Maria "Dish" Schneider in 1970's MASH. Other notable roles include the voice of Invisible Girl in the 1967 animated version of Fantastic Four, Lt. Katherine O'Hara in the television series spin-off of Operation Petticoat and Cynthia Vaughn in 1997's Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (her last role to date).Pflug was also a frequent panelist on the television game shows Match Game from 1973–1981, a co-host with Allen Funt on the 1970s version of Candid Camera, and a regular on the TV series The Fall Guy in 1981-1982. In 1984, she was the first actress to play Taylor Chapin on the unsuccessful syndicated soap operaRituals. According to Soap Opera Digest, Pflug's highly publicized departure from the burgeoning drama was because her role called for sex-related scenes involving characters not married to each other, which conflicted with her Christian beliefs.She also landed guest appearances on The Love Boat; The Dukes of Hazzard; Knight Rider; Love, American Style; Adam-12; Quincy, M.E. and Charlie's Angels.
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This works. Now, the fill is not great, and by "not great" I mean decidedly below average. Scads of crosswordy names, foreign words, Latinisms, a meeting of the ASSAYERs and IRONERS Union Local 3010, ODORIZE, and whatever ONE C is (I mean, really) (41D: Ten sawbucks). But the theme is really tight and beautifully executed, and puts extraordinary demands on the fill, so ... I extend forgiveness for the ugliness. I mean, he really sticks the landing here. All the LOOPS are symmetrical. All the fruits start at the top of their respective loops. The vast majority of answers in the grid TRANSECT theme material. It's a very high bar. So, yeah, OTRANTO (and FLOR, but thumbs-up for theme ambition (46D: Italian city that is the title setting of a Walpole novel + 1D: Dona ___ (1976 Sonia Braga role)).
I got off to a slow start, first because I couldn't remember Mies's last name (2D: Architect Mies van der ROHE). I had it as RIES at first, but that's just an echo of his first name. Then I remembered the "O" sound but wanted it ROHS ... ugh. I also just couldn't figure out the FROOT part. No idea what "breakfast choice" could start FRO- ... but then the LOOPS part became obvious just from the arrangement of circled squares, and I pieced it together. Do people really know ESA and ASO. I must know the former, as it was my first guess, but the latter was All Crosses. I did not know NON-ARAB was a thing (57A: Jewish or Iranian, e.g.), but then I didn't know ODORIZE was a thing either, so too bad for me. E-PUB is possibly the worst of the E-words (56D: Digital book file extension), surpassing even E-CASH and E-NOTE. I clearly don't have my noise meanings down pat, because I struggled with both YAH (42A: Cry of derision) and AYS (32D: Sorrowful cries). No one uses SOAPER any more (33D: Melodramatic series, in slang), I guarantee you. Oh, maybe "Variety" does, I don't know. But no humans. I think the SOAPER works with the IRONERS at the laundry.
Names posed the biggest problem in this puzzle. Never heard of LORNA Luft; she is the half-sister of Liza Minnelli, among other things. Learned about the NAST / Tweed connection in a puzzle about five years ago, and never forgot it (15A: Boss Tweed lampooner). Not sure how I knew "SO RARE" (55A: Hit for Guy Lombardo in 1937 and Jimmy Dorsey in 1957), except perhaps from having seen it suggested by my crossword-constructing software, whereupon I would've said "I have no idea what that is. I'm not putting that in my grid." I forgot USENET even existed (23D: Newsgroup system since 1980), and thought the answer was going to be some kind of Itar-Tass equivalent. AP? UPI? Something like that.
This is what I'd call an ugly win. But it's a win.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld