Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: WOODY / ALLEN (1A: With 66-Across, subject of this puzzle, born 12/1/1935) — nine WOODY ALLEN movies clued only by their years of release
Word of the Day: Walter ALSTON (8D: Hall-of-Famer Walter who was a Dodger manager for 23 years) —
Walter Emmons Alston (December 1, 1911 – October 1, 1984), nicknamed "Smokey," was an American baseball player and manager. He was born in Venice, Ohio but grew up in Darrtown. He is a graduate of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, where he lettered three years in both basketball and baseball and is a member of the University's Hall of Fame. He maintained his residence in Oxford and died there in 1984 at the age of 72.
• • •What a weird solving experience. Strangely, the theme was completely beside the point for me. I mean, once I got it, I knew all the movies, so no problem at all. No tricks, no whistles, no bells. The problem for me was Everything Else. The cluing felt hard all over and I struggled a lot more than I usually do on a Wednesday. First of all it took me a while to pick up WOODY, since 1D: Something played out in a theater (WAR) and 3D: Geometric suffix (-OID) [frowny face] were big ????s to me, as was YEOMEN at first (5D: Palace workers), so I just had -O-D-. It dawned on me who it was only after seeing (with several crosses) that 34A: ... 0f 1971 must be ... BANANAS, thus the theme must be WOODY and the years must be movies. OK.
Thought my struggle was over, but no. ELYSIAN? Ouch. I know ELYSIUM. Forgot it had an adjectival form. ALSTON? Double ouch (turns out I didn't know him back in 2008, either, which is the last time he showed up) (8D: Hall-of-Famer Walter who was a Dodger manager for 23 years). No idea what an ION exchange is. BTWELVE took forever to see (27D: Vitamin involved in cell metabolism). Trying to get CLASSA from bottom up (12D: Top-level)? Not easy. Didn't get ANO even after I had it filled in (it's AÑO—man I hate that as a crossword word). ALIGNED is not a word I think of when I think of [Neatened]. PERGOLA (52A: Shaded passageway)!? FEBRILITY!? Great words, I'm not complaining—they were just tough to come up with. Only real complaint is SW corner (which I got rather easily)—looks like a junk heap. AAAMAP is pretty made-up. NONONO is ... just 3 NOs, and ANEAR? A-NO! So strange to struggle (somewhat) in a puzzle where I knew every theme answer, and one of the answers (29A) is one of my favorite movies of all time.
- 9A: With 64-Across, 1-/66-Across movie of 2005 (MATCH / POINT)
- 17A: ... of 1987 (RADIO DAYS)
- 22A: ... of 1990 (ALICE)
- 29A: ... of 1979 (MANHATTAN)
- 34A: ... of 1971 (BANANAS)
- 36A: ... of 1973 (SLEEPER)
- 43A: ... of 1977 (ANNIE HALL)
- 50A: ... of 1983 (ZELIG)
- 57A: ... of 1978 (INTERIORS)
- 28A: Silents actor Novarro (RAMON) — again, NO idea.
- 22D: Sheik's mount (ARAB) — mind would *not* let go of camel. Would. Not. Let. Go.
- 24D: One-named 1970s-'80s supermodel (IMAN) — This, I knew, though for some reason I wrote in ELLE at first (even though ELLE McPherson clearly has Two Names).
- 47D: Hank with voices on "The Simpsons" (AZARIA) — This, too, I knew. He's won four Emmys, three of them for voice-over work on "The Simpsons"
- 54D: Celtic sea god (LER) — the only part of OOXTEPLERNON I ever want to see in a puzzle is "NON."
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