Rush Hour director Ratner / WED 1-23-13 / Teen heartthrob Zac / 2003 OutKast hit that was #1 for nine weeks / Balkan native
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Constructor: Joel Fagliano
Relative difficulty: Medium (5:21)
THEME: Initializing... — all clues are familiar two-word phrases where first word is two letters. To solve the clue, you must imagine those two letters as initials (or as initials with different meanings than expected). Thus:
- 19A: Po boy? (PETER O'TOOLE)
- 29A: L.A. woman? (LAILA ALI)
- 35A: In person? (ISAAC NEWTON)
- 42A: P.R. man? (PAUL RYAN)
- 52A: It girl? (IVANKA TRUMP)
Word of the Day: BRETT Ratner (5D: "Rush Hour" director Ratner) —
Brett Ratner (born March 28, 1969) is an American film director, film producer, and music video director. He is known for directing the Rush Hour film series,The Family Man, Red Dragon, X-Men: The Last Stand, and Tower Heist. He was also a producer on the Fox drama series, Prison Break. (wikipedia)
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Back on track today, for the most part, though I still felt a little off my game. I struggled early—far more than is normal for a Wednesday—but then got my footing and ripped through it pretty easily. The theme is very cute but also very ragged. Some of the two-letter parts of the clues are already initials, some aren't. One in particular feels like a completely different animal than the others. I first read [In person?] as "someone who is in," i.e. someone who is part of the in-crowd. I did this because that is the pattern followed by Every Other Theme Clue—two-letter part of the clue functions adjectivally. The boy is po', the woman is from L.A., the man works in P.R., the woman has "it." But "In person" (the way I'd imagined it) is not really a phrase that exists. Instead, "in person" in this case must be playing on the phrase as it's most commonly used, i.e. to indicate literal physical presence. Actually there, in person, not on video or on the phone or whatever. That "in person." But *that* in person doesn't fit the pattern, because that makes the two-letter "in" function as a preposition, not an adjective. And yes, it does matter, and boo. You stress every other two-letter word in the theme clues. You do not stress the "in" in "in person." You practically eat it.
Fill is very nice overall. Simple but solid. BRETT Ratner felt way out of place. That's a Saturday BRETT clue. Ratner's directed some hits, but I've Never heard of him and he is far, far from a household name. He's part of the reason my start was so slow. CROAT (14A: Balkan native) and BY ME (5A: "Fine ___") were also tough to turn up. Hated BY ME, mainly because I hate when partials (which are by def. not great fill) have really hard clues. Struggling to get a partial leaves a queasy feeling in my gut. Getting to OATS via Lucky Charms is like getting to Akron by way of Manila. You can *do* it, I guess, but it's a highly unlikely (one might even say tortured) route (61A: Lucky Charms ingredients). Took me a while to get AVEENO (2D: Johnson & Johnson skin-care brand) and ONE / ACT (23A: With 24-Across, like Edward Albee's "The Zoo Story") and INMATE (again, a Saturday clue with 46D: Cell body). Had to change CHOCOLATE to CHOCOLATY (I wonder if anyone got careless and ended up with PAUL REAN at 42A—because CHOCOLATE is a more-than-plausible answer for 14D: Like many éclairs).
- 17A: 2003 OutKast hit that was #1 for nine weeks ("HEY YA") — One of my first gets. I'm stunned, bordering on alarmed, that this song is nearly a decade old already. I still think of it as relatively new. OutKast is from the ATL (32A: N.L. team with a tomahawk in its logo).
- 25A: Teen heartthrob Zac (EFRON) — Zac EFRON, a name I know, but the spelling of which I often confuse with that of EFREM Zimbalist Jr.
- 21D: Pickled delicacy (EEL) — I wrote in ROE. Is that a thing? Pickled ROE? Yes, looks like it is. At least it's a thing. At least I have that to comfort me in my wrongness.