1940s British guns / MON 12-5-16 / Are able, biblically / Native Israelis / One-named R&B singer who won a Grammy for his 2014 album "Black Messiah"

Monday, December 5, 2016

Happy finals season! (It's Annabel Monday again. )

Constructor: NED WHITE

Relative difficulty: HARD (for a Monday, but still, whew!)

THEME: HEAD TO TOE — Theme answers are in the form of a phrase starting with a body part, beginning with HAIR and going all the way down to ANKLE. (They also all end in "er.")

Theme answers:
  • HAIR RAISER (17A: Something scary)
  • NECK SNAPPER (27A: It grabs one's attention)
  • CHEST BEATER (38A: Boastful sort)
  • KNEE SLAPPER (31A: Really good joke)
  • ANKLE BITER (61A: Rug rat)

Word of the Day: WORD (CLUE) —
Aga Khan (Persianآقاخان‎‎; also transliterated as Aqa Khan and Agha Khan[1]) is a name used by the Imam of the Nizari Ismailis. The current user of the name is Shah Karim who is the 49th Imam (1957–present), Prince Shah Karim Al Husseini Aga Khan IV (b. 1936)..
The title is made up of the titles agha and khan. The Turkish "agha" is "aqa" (Āqā) in Persian. The word "agha" comes from the Old Turkic and Mongolian "aqa", meaning "elder brother",[2][3] and "khan" means king, ruler in Turkic and Mongolian languages.[4]
 Chert! So pretty <3
• • •
Whew, this one was seriously a toughie for me!! Not only were some of the clues a little weird (I knew NARCOTIC, but how is OTIC a suffix?), many new-to-me words (however embarrassing that may be). AMPERE? ABNER? And what the heck is a CERT? Maybe those of you from a different generation can fill me in on that one - the only mints I eat are Mentos and Lifesavers. Maybe it's this geology class I'm taking, but I just kept thinking of CHERT. Also, I have a sneaking suspicion that Ned White is a bit of a techie...who else calls a mouse or keyboard PERIPHERALS?

The theme was pretty fun, although some of the phrases were definitely a bit of a stretch - NECK SNAPPER? I had NECK TURNER there for the longest time because at least it sounded more like HEAD TURNER, which is an actual saying that people actually say! It was still cool though. I didn't even notice that it went down from head to ankles until my mom pointed it out!

  • EMO (64A: Rock genre) — Ahhh, just this clue takes me back to middle school. I always wanted to shop at renowned EMO store Hot Topic, but I could never afford any of the ridiculously expensive corsets or black lipstick or whatever else it was they sold, because I was twelve. I guess that just gave me one more thing to be EMO about. *Evanescence songs playing in the distance*
  • FILL (58D: Complete, as a crossword grid) — Fourth-wall humor in a crossword puzzle! Love it!
  • SABRAS (47A: Native Israelis) — My mother was VERY offended that I didn't get this clue right away. In my defense, it's kind of an obscure word? Maybe?
  • REM (20A: Rock band fronted by Michael Stipe) — Please listen to this. Trust me.
Signed, Annabel Thompson, tired college student.

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Doggie of old cartoons / SUN 12-4-16 / 7Up in old ads / nova musical style of late Middle Ages / Actions of environmental extremists / Eco-friendly building certification for short

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Constructor: Bruce Haight

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: "Action Stars" — actors whose names are turned into past tense verbs and clued as fill-in-the-blanks at the beginnings of vaguely movie-related sentences:

Theme answers:
  • ORLANDO BLOOMED ... into a major film star (23A)
  • HELEN HUNTED ... for just the right film role (34A)
  • JAMES GARNERED ... several filmmaking awards (52A) ("filmmaking??")
  • SEAN PENNED ... a new film adaptation (66A)
  • BRAD PITTED ... two film studios against each other (69A)
  • SHELLEY LONGED ... for meatier roles (83A)
  • GLENN CLOSED ... the film deal (96A)
  • RUSSELL BRANDED ... himself as a big-screen film star (111A)
Word of the Day: TIANA (4D: First African-American Disney princess) —
Princess Tiana of Maldonia is a fictional main character who appears in Walt Disney Pictures' 49th animated feature film The Princess and the Frog (2009). Created by directors Ron Clements and John Musker and animated by Mark Henn, Tiana is voiced by Anika Noni Rose as an adult, while Elizabeth M. Dampier voices the character as a child. // Tiana is loosely based on two princesses. Firstly, Princess Emma, the heroine of E. D. Baker's novel The Frog Princess. Secondly, the princess that appears in the Brothers Grimm fairy tale titled The Frog Prince (published in 1812) by which E.D. Baker's novel was originally inspired. (wikipedia)
• • •

Jodie Fostered ...
Cary Granted ...
Fredric Marched ...
Robert Donated ...
Gregory Pecked ...
James Earl Jonesed ...
Geoffrey Rushed ...
Sally Fielded ...

... and that's just when I thought the theme was actually consistent. Then I noticed GLENN CLOSED, the only answer where just "D" and not "ED" is added. If you just add "D," well, as you can imagine, more names become available (Demi Moored, Tom Cruised, Russell Crowed, Geraldine Paged, Stephen Read, etc., etc.). This theme is cornball, mediocre in conception and average (at best) in execution. The clues sometimes relate directly to the actors in question ... sometimes ... not (James Garner's in particular seems not right). I wonder if the cluing wasn't the result of the editor's just trying to salvage this thing. Trying to make something out of not much of a thing. You are all being acclimated to a new normal, similar to the way our country will acclimate to a new normal over the next four years. "It's fine ... it's fine." And then eventually you're wallowing in filth. This Mediocre Madness Must End. I mean, it won't, I'm just one voice in the wilderness, but solvers of "the best puzzle in the world" shouldn't have to settle for this lukewarm stuff. They should be AGOG or AGLARE or ADEN or something.

Fill was decent, if largely non-descript. I wonder if the constructor got a hold of a more robust wordlist. YEAH I BET and ZIPCAR and a few others are a bit more ... lively than what I've come to expect. ECOTAGE is more what I expect (ugh, 119A: Actions of environmental extremists) (also, see clue for LEED (36D), which has "Eco-" in it—no no no). Honestly, there isn't really anything here to comment on.Fill, fine. Cluing, pretty straightforward. Short. Dull. I hope you had more fun than I did.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

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