Lohengrin heroine / TUE 1-29-13 / 1968 Mark Lester film / 1972 Jack Lemmon film / Silent film effect / Like some fails in modern slang / Seiji longtime Boston Symphony maestro
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Constructor: David Steinberg
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (just over 4:00)
THEME: EXCLAMATION MARK (40A: It follows the answer to each starred clue) — theme answers are all films that end with said mark
- "VIVA ZAPATA!" (17A: *1952 Marlon Brando film)
- "MAMMA MIA!" (21A: *2008 Meryl Streep film)
- "OLIVER!" (30A: *1968 Mark Lester film) [uh, who?]
- "AVANTI!" (46A: *1972 Jack Lemmon film)
- "AIRPLANE!" (54A: *1980 Robert Hays film)
- "HELLO, DOLLY!" (64A: *1969 Barbra Streisand film)
Word of the Day: IRIS IN (32D: Silent film effect) —
iris-in, iris-out - this transition almost never appears in contemporary films and was used much more commonly in early cinema. Here, the shot goes from a full frame to focusing a small circle around a certain part of the shot, with everything else blacked out (the iris-in), or the reverse occurs (the iris-out). You may have seen this transition at the end of a Looney Tunes cartoon, when the cartoon character will sometimes poke his or her head out of the iris as it closes in and crack one last joke (e.g when Porky Pig says, “Tha-tha-tha, that’s all folks”). ("A Short List of Film Terms..." by David T. Johnson)
• • •
Didn't enjoy this one very much. The concept is one that is somewhat interesting, in retrospect, but not that much fun to solve (random year / actor pairings are hard to pick up—a lot of work for not much thematic payoff). Further, the grid is just choked with crosswordese:
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the grid seems to be suboptimally constructed. It is really, really hard to get even one Down answer to go through three answers cleanly (i.e. with clean fill in the whole surrounding area). Theme answers go in the grid first, and they really lock you in. You generally try to build a grid that will give you some flexibility, fill-wise. This grid doesn't do that. That central section of the grid is so terrible For A Reason: three consecutive Downs get driven through three theme answers (24D, 31D, 32D). That's nuts. No wonder you've got junk like the P-less VSO and plural MERS and LETAT and (esp!!!!) IRIS IN, whatever that is. Doesn't help that "AVANTI!" is in no way a famous movie. The crosswordese infestation is probably related to this grid rigidity as well. Sometimes having a grid that is chock full o' theme answers (as this one is) comes back to bite you in the ass. The grid just can't take it. Buckles. Cries "Uncle!" Etc.
- 49A: Harvard Law Review editor who went on to become president (OBAMA) — embarrassed by how long it too me to get this (probably took me only several seconds, but it should've been instant). Note: OBAMA is just OZAWA (5D: Seiji ___, longtime Boston Symphony maestro) with different consonants.
- 67A: Lensman Adams (ANSEL) — easy, but man I hate the term "lensman."
- 71A: Former New York archbishop (EGAN) — also, former (and first) governor of Alaska.
- 60D: Many a YouTube upload (VLOG) — I know these exist, but I never see this "word" these days. Most people just say "video blog," because most people, upon hearing "vlog," are just going to ask, "I'm sorry, did you say 'blog?'"