I'm a creature of habit so I always approach the Premier Crossword by Frank A. Longo the same way: I read the title to see if it offers any clue as to what the constructor might have in mind, then I scan the clues to see if there any "?-style" clues to indicate wacky answers or extreme puniness, then I set out to solve the grid from top to bottom, left to right.
Today's puzzle is titled "Soul Rescuer" and that didn't help me much in predicting what might be going on in the puzzle, and there were no ?s in the clues so I started out in the dark, so to speak and waded in to see what might develop. By the time I arrived at 23a I had my answer: "Start of a riddle", and I knew there would be several more parts of the riddle followed by its answer, which is usually sufficiently punny to elicit a groan or sometimes a guffaw so at last I had something to anticipate as I worked my way down the grid. The riddle had seven parts just so:
23a - WHATSHOULDTHEY
29a - TITLEANEW
36a - SITUATIONCOMEDY
59a - FEATURINGSINGERPATTI
83a - PLAYINGTHELEADROLEOF
The answer should be obvious if you know who "Singer Patti" is; otherwise the whole thing kind of falls flat. What is the answer, you ask? I'm glad you did because here it is:
So it either works for you or it doesn't, depending on how much you know about pop culture - but in case you have never heard of her before, here's more than you ever wanted to know about Patti LaBelle:
"From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
LaBelle in Zang Toi at The Heart Truth's Red Dress Collection Fashion Show, 2011
|Birth name||Patricia Louise Holte|
|Also known as||Patricia Edwards|
|Born||(1944-05-24) May 24, 1944|
|Origin||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States|
|Genres||R&B, soul, pop, soft rock, gospel|
|Labels||Epic, Philadelphia Int'l, MCA, Def Soul Classics, Umbrella, Bungalo|
Resolution (2013 - )
|Associated acts||Labelle, Michael McDonald, Yolanda Adams, Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey|
So enough about the riddle and its star. There were some other notable figures in the non-theme fill, including (14d) Inventor Nikola TESLA, a fascinating character in his own right, the ever-lushous SOPHIA Loren (66d), EMMETT Kelly the clown (57a), author AYN Rand (75d) and sitarist RAVI Shankar (107a), just to mention a few that I have actually heard of. One name left me with a question: is HERA, Zeus' sister and wife (49d) one person, or two? According to Wiki, the answer is one:
"Zeus was brother and consort of Hera. By Hera, Zeus sired Ares, Hebe and Hephaestus, though some accounts say that Hera produced these offspring alone. Some also include Eileithyia and Eris as their daughters. The conquests of Zeus among nymphs and the mythic mortal progenitors of Hellenic dynasties are famous. Olympian mythography even credits him with unions with Leto, Demeter, Dione and Maia. Among mortals were Semele, Io, Europa and Leda (for more details, see below) and with the young Ganymede (although he was mortal Zeus granted him eternal youth and immortality).
Many myths render Hera as jealous of his amorous conquests and a consistent enemy of Zeus' mistresses and their children by him. For a time, a nymph named Echo had the job of distracting Hera from his affairs by talking incessantly, and when Hera discovered the deception, she cursed Echo to repeat the words of others."
It would seem that Zeus was a very randy God. I love learning stuff like that from doing the puzzle.
I'm sure DONG (41d - Ringing sound) is a perfectly legitimate word but every time I see the word a whole different meaning comes to mind, but that's probably just me. We have another ringing sound, PEAL, at 111d and of course I wanted to put "ding" there as having the whole phrase "ding-DONG" would have made me feel better about the whole situation.
Today is July 14, Bastille Day, and it appears Frank is trying to stir up a little discord in the European community by having Jean Luc's IDEE (116d) right next to "Deutschland UBER alles" (117d) - Franco-philes are not going to be pleased with that. With that thought of international tension in mind I'll leave you with this, which of course was inspired by the answer to 34a - Envision:
Can you IMAGINE that?
(*70d and 53d, respectively)