It seems to me I've been doing a lot of movie-theme puzzles lately and the trend continues with this week's Premier Crossword by Frank A. Longo which is titled "Super Duper Movie". A glance at the clues revealed that there's a riddle to be solved, so at least no actual knowledge of movie titles is required - well, until you get to the answer when you have to be familiar with a specific movie (or three of them actually, since it was a trilogy). The riddle/answer comprise a phonetic pun and if you've never heard of the movies starring Keanu Reeves, the first of which was released in 1999, then the whole point of the exercise is going to be lost on you. Here it is:
23a - WHAT COULD THEY
31a - CALL A SCI FI FILM ABOUT
50a - A MARRIED LADY WHO IS
67a - BRAINWASHED
89a - TO PLAY PRANKS ON HER
118a-THE MATE TRICKS(!)
So in order to be in on the joke you have to have at least heard of "The Matrix"; in case you haven't, here's a brief summary from wiki: "The Matrix is a science fiction action media franchise created by Andy and Larry Wachowski and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. The series began with the feature film The Matrix (1999), and continued with two sequels, The Matrix Reloaded (2003) and The Matrix Revolutions (2003). The characters and settings of the films are further explored in other media set in the same fictional universe, including animation, comics, and video games."
Hmm, I now see on the inter-web that there are rumors of a new set of Matrix movies to be made for release by 2017 (you can read all about it here: http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/entertainment/film-tv/news/new-matrix-movies-set-to-be-made-30057449.html). So perhaps Frank A. Longo is working in cahoots with Warner Bros. to provide advance publicity to PRESELL (126a - Market before officially launching) the movies? It's just a thought.
Conspiracy theories aside, I didn't have much trouble filling in the grid, although I did want the California city to be Buena Vista so I was surprised when CHULA Vista (6d) appeared. It turns out Buena Vista (pop 2,195) is in Colorado - who knew? Another, more serious, problem for me was not knowing that a "Colorful carpet with a cut pile" is called an AXMINSTER (81d) (named after the English town where they were first manufactured, apparently) and a couple of the crosswords were highly problematic for me. Richard KIEL of "Moonraker" (99a) was a total mystery and KeEL seemed plausible, and Chile's ATACAMA Desert (116a) might well have been any number of spellings but in the end I guessed correctly on both of them. Luckily I did know Rock's AXL Rose (88a) and Don IMUS of talk radio (94a) or that whole section could have been a disaster.
I'm not sure what Frank had in mind when he paired EMASCULATED (3d - Deprived of strength) with its symmetrical partner MIGHTY DUCKS (72d - Anaheim's NHL team, formerly) - perhaps he's upset that MIGHTY was dropped from the team name in 2006 and they are now called just the Anaheim DUCKS. Actually, considering the pairing with that possibility in mind, that's a pretty nifty construction feat; in fact I might go so far as to call it a genius move that adds a lot of interest to the puzzle - I love it!
I'll close with YSTAD (52d - Swedish port on the Baltic) - I have a love/hate relationship with words like that. On the one hand there's no chance I'll get any of the letters without crosswords so it vexes me during the solve, but on the other hand it gives me a chance to learn fun facts like this (from wiki): "Ystad is a town, and the seat of Ystad Municipality, Skåne County, Sweden, with 18,350 inhabitants in 2010. The settlement dates back to the 11th century and the town has become a busy ferryport, local administrative centre and tourist attraction." Still, it's a good thing that I knew a "Submission encl." (57a) was a SASE (Self-Addresses Stamped Envelope) or it could have been ugly. Let's "Accentuate the Positive" with Dr. John: