Ahh The Name Is Bootsy Baby Rar PORTABLE
William "Bootsy" Collins' name was already well-known by the time he "introduced" himself with Aah...The Name is Bootsy, Baby!, the second album by his Bootsy's Rubber Band, on Jan. 15, 1977.
Ahh The Name Is Bootsy Baby Rar
Relative difficulty: Medium-HardTHEME: BEVERLY (@#$#-ing) SILLS (21A: With 28-Across, a late, great entertainer) - theme entries aplenty relating to her opera careerWhat better way to ring in August than with a little Wrath of Kahn. I mean no disrespect to the recently departed Ms. SILLS (died last month of lung cancer, age 78), but I can't find my way around opera with a map and a guide, and so I was Slow today. If "Fresh Air" (NPR) hadn't rerun an interview with SILLS recently, this puzzle might have taken me even longer. I didn't know there was even a category called LYRIC SOPRANO (29D: with 39-Across, 21-/28-Across, for one - that is an instant nominee for ugliest clue of the year). So, the puzzle is fine - it's a very Kahn-esque puzzle (he does these little topical ones well - I own / enjoy his book of baseball puzzles, as I may have mentioned before). But as single-person-themed puzzles, this is the roughest one I've done in my blogging career (the Rita Moreno puzzle being the easiest, and most enjoyable, and Sidney Poitier ranking ... somewhere in between; actually, I think I may have enjoyed this puzzle more than the Poitier one, if memory serves). ANYway...Theme answers17A: 1966 Lincoln Center role for 21-/28-Across (Cleopatra)
11D: "La Traviata" role for 21-/28-Across (Violetta)
48A: 1970 Covent Garden title role for 21-/28-Across (Lucia)
58A: Childhood nickname of 21-/28-Across (Bubbles) - that is the best SILLS factoid of all, by far
62A: 1955 "Die Fledermaus" debut role for 21-/28-Across (Rosalinde)
38D: Stage wear for 21-/28-Across (costumes) - this one stands out like a very sore, profoundly lame thumb
Oh, there's also 40D: "Sempre libera" e.g. (aria) in the grid, though I have no idea if it's something Ms. SILLS ever sang or not. Why is there not a comma between "libera" and "e.g." in that clue, btw, as there is in 5D: Earl Grey, e.g. (tea)?Hardest part of puzzle was NE, where brazen (wrong) entry of CCIII for (ugh) 9A: Early third-century year (CCVII) slowed me way up on VIOLETTA (no "V," no way to make much sense of name ... ISOLETTA? 16A: They make green lawns (rains) and 19A: Grind down (erode) look really easy in retrospect, but without CREEP (9D: Unlikely candidate for Mr. Right) or INDY (12D: May race, familiarly), they didn't want to show their faces. INDY also looks easy in retrospect. I was thinking the answer was something beginning in "I," ending in "Y," that was somehow short for the Iditarod. It's true.Also had a bit of trouble in the NW, with the intersecting ARCANA (1D: Mysteries) and ANSE (27A: "As I Lay Dying" father). Plural ending in "A" + insane Faulkner name I can never remember = stall. Speaking of crazy names, it's a virtual pageant today, with the never-before-seen (by me) 26A: Silas Marner's adopted daughter (Eppie - !?) and the familiar and yet oddly-named 41D: Linguist Chomsky (Noam) accompany Mr. ANSE. Give me a nice, simple name like Linda EVANS (60A: "Dynasty" actress) any day - mmmm, her shoulder pads went on forEver.Two cute "?" clues intersect in the SW - the good 44D: Flying home? (airbase) and the great 61A: Stretches out? (comas). Paul Ryan came out of his COMA today on my soap opera ("ATWT"). I really Really wish he were still in it. Another interesting pair in the puzzle are CROAT and SERB, both clued [Balkan native].Lastly, I have never heard of "PIN money" (18D: _____ money). Money for bowling? Any other explanation will likely be dissatisfying.Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
Relative difficulty: MediumTheme: WALKS (29D: Word following the last parts of the answers to the five starred clues)This is a fine Tuesday puzzle, with some quirky long fill. My one complaint - why is WALKS plural? I mean, I'm sure it's for reasons of construction, but its plural status is annoyingly superfluous, as WALK "follow[s] the last parts of the answers to the five starred clues" just as well as WALKS, if not better.Theme answers:20A: *Line formatting option (triple SPACE) - this was hard. I wasn't even sure what "line formatting" meant (chorus line?). I pieced it together fairly easily after getting many crosses.
11D: *College in Worcester, Mass. (Holy CROSS) - I like that this CROSSes MIRACLE (25A: Prerequisite for sainthood), not to mention the Biblical HOSEA (47A: Book before Joel).
40A: *Hipster (cool CAT) - When would anyone use the phrase "cool CAT" anymore? "Hipster" is irrevocably derisive, whereas "cool CAT" is just loopy and beatnik. For the most UNcool cat ever imagined, see drawing, right.
61A: *Education overseers (school BOARD) - weakest of the lot.
33D: *Kids' game (patty CAKE)
I didn't get the theme til the very end because the "K" in WALKS was the last letter I entered. This is because I'd never ever heard of 46A: Explorer Zebulon (Pike), though that's probably the PIKE's Peak guy, right? Why did his parents name him after what I can only imagine is a fictional planet and / or space alien leader. "Set a course for Zebulon!"Neither wife nor I knows what "ALLA breve" is, which is probably very sad (14A: _____ breve). Wife also didn't know ELOI (28D: "The Time Machine" race) or LAIC (34A: Not of the cloth), both of which, I informed her, were very crosswordesey. In fact, I know ELOI only from crosswords (as a former medievalist, I knew LAIC).I like the near symmetrical placement of ALERO (2D: Last Oldsmobile to be made) and EDSEL (59D: Collectible Ford product). My love for COATI (64A: Ring-tailed mammal) as both a word and an animal is well documented. PLEB (72A: Commoner) feels like it's missing a vowel and REECE (71A: Model/volleyballer Gabrielle) looks like either a misspelled REESE or a decapitated GREECE. You decide. Speaking of "Model/volleyballer" ... that's only the second-silliest slash descriptor in today's clues. The first: 53D: Musician/wit Levant (Oscar).Finally the ICE-T clue of the week is, apparently, 35D: "Ricochet" co-star, and the answer to today's "Guess That Mauna" challenge is KEA (38D: Mauna _____).Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
Relative difficulty: MediumTHEME: Celebrity baseball - OR - Celebrity possessives - "'S" is added to celebrity's first name to create possessive phrase, which is then cluedTheme answers:20A: Game equipment for an old sitcom star? (Lucille's ball)
35A: Game location for an actress? (Sally's field)
52A: Game site for a popular singer? (Neil's diamond)
This doesn't feel like a theme. I got LUCILLE'S BALL pretty quickly - or rather, I got LUCILLE and then wondered what the trick could be. If it's "baseball," then how does the changing of the first name to a possessive fit in, theme-wise? Seems an extra, unexplained wrinkle.I ran into just one problem in the grid, and it was major. Right around the "Ohio" region of the puzzle, I came to a dead stop at least a couple of times. 8D: Hand-to-hand fighting (combat) took far too long to come to me than it should have. But getting it (which I did, finally) should have made 9D: 8-Down ender easy. It Did Not. Since when does a TREATY end "hand-to-hand fighting." I know that the way it's clued, technically, a TREATY is supposed to end COMBAT, which is not wrong, but when that COMBAT is clued as the hand-to-hand variety (which suggests karate, pugilism, etc., i.e. one-on-one combat), then TREATY does not even show up on the radar as an appropriate word here. TRUCE would have been somewhat more expected. That, or KNOCKOUT. TREATIES are between peoples, states, nations. If COMBAT had been clued as simply [Fighting], I would have had a lot less trouble, conceptually.If you had any trouble with this puzzle, it likely involved one or more of the following answers:1D: Actor Snipes of "Blade" (Wesley) - a gimme, but experience tells me that many of you haven't the foggiest clue about pop culture post-Kennedy administration (if then), and I know only about six of you will have deigned to see "Blade," so...3D: Owner of MTV and BET (Viacom) - again, easy for pop culture fans, maybe not so easy for shut-ins like yourselves (I'm teasing!). Actually, a shut-in would probably watch a lot of TV.24A: Organic salt (oleate) - ????22D: Speaker's spot (lectern) - this word just wouldn't give itself up. For a while I had just the initial "L," and all I could think of was PODIUM, ROSTRUM (!?), and DAIS. Really needed the "C," which I finally got (last thing I filled in, I think), when I got...30A: Captains of industry (tycoons) - that is one cool word, now that I look at it. Sounds good, rhymes with "raccoons." Since I didn't have TREATY for a long time, I didn't have the "Y" here, just the initial "T," and as with LECTERN, the initial letter alone did nothing for me.41A: IBM/Apple product starting in the early 90's (Power PC) - I had one of these circa '95. The crazy consonantal pile-up at the end there looks good in the grid.42: A _____ (kind of reasoning) (priori) - I'm always surprised when this word shows up in the grid. Feels very specialized / esoteric, and yet I've seen it multiple times this past year.50D: Winston Churchill flashed it (V sign) - great clue. Gotta love an entry starting "VS..."Lastly I would like to GROUSE (45D: Bellyache) about 51D: Love of one's life (amour) ... in France, maybe. And even then, AMOUR is just love, not necessarily the hyperbolic kind suggested by the clue.Enjoy Monday.Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld