Mansard alternative / FRI 2-1-13 / Laughable Lyrics poet / Q-Tip specialty / Three-time Newhart Emmy nominee / Time-traveling 1980s film character / Ecosystem-replicating facility / Barbie greeting / Fizzy drink measure / Piece of gladiatorial combat gear
Friday, February 1, 2013
Constructor: Josh Knapp
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
Word of the Day: Tom POSTON (41D: Three-time "Newhart" Emmy nominee) —
Thomas Gordon "Tom" Poston (October 17, 1921 – April 30, 2007) was an American television and film actor. He starred on television in a career that began in 1950. He appeared as a comic actor, game show panelist, comedy/variety show host, film actor, television actor, and Broadway performer. [...] Poston was a recurring guest star on The Bob Newhart Show in the 1970s. He later played the role of Franklin Delano Bickley on Mork & Mindy. A longtime friend of Bob Newhart, Poston played George Utley, bumbling country handyman of the Stratford Inn, on Newhart and appeared with Newhart in Cold Turkey (1971) as the town drunk, Edgar Stopworth. He was nominated for an Emmy Award three times for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for his performance on Newhart in 1984, 1986, and 1987. He had a third role with Newhart in the short-lived Bob. // Poston also had regular roles on many other television series: Family Matters, Murphy Brown, Home Improvement, Cosby, Malcolm & Eddie, ER, Grace Under Fire, That '70s Show, Will & Grace, and guest starred in an episode of The Simpsons as the Capital City Goofball. He also played dentist / jeweler, Art Hibke, on ABC's Coach, for which he was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series in 1991. (wikipedia)
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Loved this one despite solving it in a groggy, post-sleep state just now (a solving state that usually increases grumpiness). Normally I solve the puzzle as soon as it comes out online, the night before its official publication date, but yesterday was my first full day of teaching this semester, and I forgot how exhausted I get. I got home around late afternoon and barely left the couch the rest of the night. At 10pm my body was like "nope, no way you're solving and blogging." And so to bed. Good choice. But back to the puzzle— lots of zing and hardly any crap. A very fun puzzle to solve. MARTY MCFLY! (29D: Time-traveling 1980s film character). I don't know if he's been in the puzzle before, but he looks fantastic in the grid, especially crossing PLAYING HOOKY (41A: Absent without leave?) and CRAZY. McFly did the opposite of PLAYING HOOKY, which is to say he went to a high school that was *not* properly his (his parents' high school ... in the past ... where he time-traveled ... in the DeLorean ... with the flux capacitor ... at least I think he attends their high school ... I know there's a school dance ...). FRENEMY (58A: Semi-opponent) and WHAT THE!? give the grid a nice contemporary colloquial feel. There's very little in the way of blech. I mean, what ... AN OAK? Yeah, I can take that in a grid this good.
I didn't have a main area of struggle in this one, as everything seemed to fall into place fairly consistently, but there were some noteworthy sticking points that I had to work my way around. First was the [Piece of gladiatorial gear], which I should've just left and come back to, but which I got frustrated with as I stubbornly imagined a gladiator in full get-up, from head to toe, and could think of nothing three-lettered. Me: "BRA!? Is the chestpiece called a BRA?!?" No, it is not. The answer is NET. I must have seen said bit of gear in movies before, because I have a vague memory, but only very vague. I misspelled SCOW as SKOW. I think I just *wish* it were spelled that way. Thought that [What a dolorimeter measures] was sadness, then RAIN (!?). Sadness was closer (PAIN). Ridiculous miscomprehension at 16A: Comment from one who's just getting by. I had the "M" and immediately wrote the "I" in before it, imagining that the phrase started "I'M ... I'M A ..." Finally ended up with "I'M AN AGE." Me: "WHAT THE!? ... oh. I MANAGE. Yes. Better." The toughest part for me to grasp today was 32A: ID tag? (MST). I had EST, and thought "how clever!" (tag EST onto ID and you get ID EST, i.e. "i.e."). But I was *pretty* sure EELODRAMA was not a thing (though imagining a soap opera with an all-eel cast is pretty amusing) (32D: Common soap ingredient = MELODRAMA). So I wrote in MST, with No Idea how it could be right. The only thing I know MST stands for is Mountain Standard Time. And what could ID have to do with ... Eventually had a pretty great Aha Moment when I recalled ID = Idaho = state in the Mountain Time Zone (state where my mom was born, state where my grandma lives). So that clue went from Most Hated to Clue of the Day, instantly.
- 28A: 2011 Emmy-winning MSNBC host (RACHEL MADDOW) — First thing in the grid. A gimme. The only bearable MSNBC host I know of (though my wife is allergic to her voice and has to leave the room if for whatever reason I had Maddow's show on). Actually, I think there's an Alex someone I kind of like, and then another woman ... Alex Wagner and Chris Jansing. Those two. I like them. The belligerent self-righteous dudes on that network are the ones that make me cringe / channel-change.
- 43A: Ecosystem-replicating facility (BIODOME) — dollars to donuts this had a Pauly Shore clue to start out with.
- 49A: Q-Tip specialty (RAP) — any opportunity I have to play music from the greatest RAP album of the '90s (sorry, DRE), I'll take:
- 12D: Mansard alternative (GABLE) — I had this vague inkling that "Mansard" had something to do with roofs. Correct! Didn't get it straight off, but got it off the -LE.
- 43D: Screw-up (BONER) — appropriately, I botched this. With BOTCH.
See you tomorrow.