Sunday, November 10, 2013

POP POPULARITY



"Not Noteworthy" is the title of this week's Premier Crossword by Frank A. Longo and since I don't think the constructor is given to self-deprecation I suspected right away that it wasn't meant to be taken literally. It turns out to be, in actual fact, a perfect example of exactly what is going on with the long theme answers in the grid, so the title is illustrative, not descriptive. The title and all of the theme answers consist of two word phrases where the first three letter word is repeated at the beginning of the second, longer word:

23a -  DIG DIGITIZING (Really get into making electronic scans?)
33a - HOT HOTELIER (Conrad Hilton with a fever?)
41a - PIE PIERCING (Cobbler cutter's job?)
58a - RED REDUCTION (Decrease in sunburn severity?)
69a - APE APERITIF (Gorilla's pre-dinner drink?)
78a - HUG HUGUENOTS (Embrace old French Protestants?)
93a - SAY SAYONARA (Bid a Toyko resident farewell?)
103a-DOC DOCILITY (Meekness of medics?)
118a-YOU YOUNGSTERS (How senior citizens address teens?)

NOT NOTEWORTHY - It's pretty obvious once you see the gimmick, which I did as I came to the first long answer, and once you know what's going on it greatly simplifies the solving process because letters become "two-fers" - when you  have one in either word you can write it in the corresponding position of the other word. In fact, the long theme answers were a lot easier for me than much of the other fill.

I got off to a bad start in the upper left hand corner of the grid where Golfer Mark OMEARA (20a) crossed "EADIE Was a Lady" (1933 hit song) (2d) - in fact I forgot to go back to fill in the missing letter (which I might or might not have guessed right) but I didn't notice I had left it blank until I copied the solution here. In the top central section Snake-haired Gorgon MEDUSA (7a)  crossing mentalist URI Geller (10d) was temporarily problematic, and then I had to make a guess where AGRIPPA, the General who advised Augustus (13a) shared a letter with ANCHO chile (kind of pepper) (13d) - and that was before I even got to the first theme clue!

The center section of the grid didn't pose many problems (other than not being sure how to spell "Huguenots") but I got back into trouble in the bottom sections. Both ends of the old French region ALSATIA (121A) were crossed by proper names with painter Edgar DEGAS (103d) in front and "The Compleat Angler" writer IZAAK Walton bringing up the rear. ELLA Raines of "The Web" crossing LORI Singer of film was easy enough to guess but I have never heard of either woman. There were lots of other proper names down there but happily I was familiar with most of them they didn't cause any difficulty. ATHENA (123a - She's a deity of wisdom) provided a nice flourish from Greek mythology to counter-balance the ugly Gorgon at the top of the grid.

Looking back at my problem areas I see that most of my difficulties were VOCALIC (92d - Like A, E, I, O and U), a word which I just learned from thefreedictionary.com: "adj. 1. Containing, marked by, or consisting of vowels. 2. Of, relating to, or having the nature of a vowel." I wanted the word to be VOweLIC until the crosswords set me right.

Having "Edward I" playwright George PEELE (18d) and PEELER (126a - Paring tool) together in the grid seems a little like cheating to me - on the other hand it might provide the basis for the theme in another puzzle.

Random Roman Numeral crossing:  Second-cen. pope ST PIUS (57d) meets the last of a tetralogy PART IV (61a) I'm sure AGRIPPA would approve (because he was, you know, Roman.)

Possible mini-theme: CELEBS (1a - Film stars, e.g.): Mark OMEARA, ANI DiFranco, VANNA White, MUGSY (maybe he doesn't count because he's a cartoon?) Kofi ANNAN, Jane Fonda of KLUTE, ELLA Raines and LORI Singer (whom we've already met), ARNE Duncan (who?), Herb ALPERT, Peter OTOOLE, and my favorite sea serpent NESSIE.  There may be more - feel free to list them in the comment section.

CANST (105D - Art able to) - REALLY???!!!

ARGOTS (12d - Local lingoes) - from vocabulary.com: "Argot is language particular to a specific group. It can mean a kind of slang, a technical language or a code." I did not know that.

ADIEU (47d - "Farewell") - see you next week.




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