MONDAY, Jul. 21, 2008 - Gilbert H. Ludwig (FURBYS OR YO-YOS, ONCE / 1975 TITLE ROLE FOR LYNN REDGRAVE)
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: Women in Good Moods - three film titles following the pattern [THE + synonym for "jolly" + kind of woman]
Managed this one in under four on a very touchy and temperamental laptop here in my in-laws' place in Lake Hawea. A simple, elegant Monday puzzle, that also manages to be funny. THE HAPPY HOOKER makes a great punch line to this theme. Which of these theme answers is not like the others? By a longshot, THE HAPPY HOOKER. The other 2 answers are black&white 1934 musical comedies about - I assume - reasonably respectable women. Not that a hooker / madam can't be "respectable," by some definition of the word. My favorite factoid about "THE HAPPY HOOKER" - it co-starred Tom Poston.
- 20A: 1934 title role for Ginger Rogers ("THE GAY DIVORCEE")
- 35A: 1934 title role for Jeanette MacDonald ("THE MERRY WIDOW")
- 51A: 1975 title role for Lynn Redgrave ("THE HAPPY HOOKER")
I have a minor admiration for the non-horrible 3x6 areas in the NW and SE. RUSTLE (1D: What leaves do in the wind) has a certain autumnal quality, though it's winter here and we have certain heard much rustling in the various bushes and shrubs that we pass on our (many) walks. The rustling is usually some exotic bird, which is to say, a perfectly ordinary bird to everyone around here. I am currently sitting in the library where I can see through the living room out onto the deck and across the lake to the mountains. Which means that I'm currently enjoying a spectacular LAKE VIEW (12D: Placid vacation vista).
Many little birds are currently fighting each other on the deck for the apples and suet that my in-laws leave out for them. I'm told they are insect-feeding birds called "white eyes" or "silver eyes." They just look like a slightly more colorful (greenish?) version of the Little Brown Birds I see all over the place in NY.
We took a walk into town this morning, to the local BODEGA (3D: Barrio grocery), which appears to be the only store in town. Literally. The Only One. Gotta go to Wanaka (15 min. down the road) to do a proper shop, I guess. Lake Hawea (which wants to be in a puzzle someday) is apparently where old people who like mountain life live. Wanaka and Queenstown are given over to yuppies and x-treme sports types, respectively.
I wonder if anyone would pay to see a movie called "The BANAL CABAL" (18A: Like "Have a nice day") + (4D: Plotters' plot).
Today's puzzle did a nice job of staying out of the crap fill rut, with only ADELA (15A: Journalist _____ Rogers St. Johns), ALAI (7D: Jai _____), and YMA (38D: Singer Sumac) even vaguely mucking things up.
EVA MARIE Saint (25A: With 56-Across, Saint of Hollywood) is hot, and also features prominently in one of my favorite songs of the 80s: "Rattlesnakes" by Lloyd Cole and the Commotions.
I wish this puzzle had MINARETS, because it's got a wonderful near-east theme going, what with all the TURKS (19A: Denizens of 45-Down) in ANKARA (45D: Capital ESE of Istanbul) practicing ISLAM (42A: Imam's faith).
- 4A: Unconscious states (comas) - strangely, the only one of the first six Across answers that I didn't get right off the bat. I say "strangely" because I feel like I've been in and out of a COMA as I try to get adjusted to life down under. Yesterday was the first day where I really felt like I'd kicked whatever sickly pall had been hanging over me since landing here. Coincidentally, the sun is shining brightly and it's 50+ degrees, even though we're in the mountains in the dead of winter. I don't get this place at all. You can see palm trees and snow-capped mountains in the same vista, and some of the trees here are flowering ... eerie.
- 16A: Whodunit award (Edgar) - not just for "whodunits"
- 17A: Rev. _____ (Bible ver.) (std.) - omg that clue / answer makes my head hurt. Too many abbrevs. Plus, REV and VER ... well, you can see - palindromic. Again, eerie.
- 31A: Bank acct. guarantor (FDIC) - Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation; I remember various ads, probably for banks, that would end with a quickly uttered "Member FDIC"; had no idea what the hell that meant until I was much older. Same thing happened with MSRP.
- 32A: "That's one small step for _____ ..." ("a man") - I honestly had no idea about the indefinite article, although clearly it's necessary to draw the distinction between the individual man and all humanity.
- 41A: "Darn," more formally ("Alas") - er ... I'm not sure I can accept this clue. "Darn, poor Yorick, I knew him, Horatio." "ALAS" is not the exclamation that "Darn" is. To my ear.
- 48A: Nonvegetarian sandwich, for short (BLT) - read the clue too quickly and it'll knock you over - "Nonvegetarian" looks like an adjective applying to resident of some Nordic region.
- 2D: Purim heroine (Esther) - learned it from xwords. I believe HAMAN is involved in there, somehow.
- 5D: Jazzy Anita (O'Day) - I get her confused with Keely Smith.
- 8D: Series of shots, as from warships (salvos) - I just started reading "Great Expectations," and there are SALVOS of a sort at the beginning of the novel, warning of the escape of an inmate from a prison ship. Why am I reading "Great Expectations?" OK, so there's this NZ novel called "Mr. Pip," which my brother-in-law gave me to read, and I started reading it and was Loving it - until it became clear that the plot of "Great Expectations" was going to figure prominently. My mother-in-law was only too happy to loan me her copy of Dickens. "Won't it be lovely for you to read it again?" I said, "If by 'again' you mean 'for the first time,' then yes, it will." (English Ph.D., U. Mich., 1999, and ... virtually no Dickens under my belt). I'm only about 8 chapters in. I'll let you know how it turns out.
- 22D: Defeat by a stroke? (outswim) - clever, though it had me thinking, morbidly, about defeating someone by causing him/her to have a stroke.
- 29D: Part of a cigarette rating (tar) - makes me realize how seldom cigarettes feature in the puzzle (anymore?). Cigars, sometimes. Cigarettes, hardly at all. Or else I'm forgetting something obvious because I'm in an NZ-induced COMA.
- 31D: Furbys or yo-yos, once (fad) - the very word "Furby" makes me cringe in horror at the entire decade that was the 90s.
- 35D: Sailor's yarn (tall tale) - this answer is much better vertical than it would be horizontal.
- 36D: Charles de Gaulle : Paris :: _____ : London (Heathrow) - most of the time I have spent in England has been spent at Heathrow. I think I've spent all of 24 hours total in England; compare to weeks in Wales and months in Scotland (which is like the NZ of the Northern Hemisphere).
- 43D: Drain furtively, maybe (siphon) - nice clue / word combo
- 54D: Gym locale, for short (YMCA) - "Gime? ... Oh, Gime!"
Off for another long walk. We picked out the site of our future home yesterday. Sadly, we later found out that the scraggly plot of land - sans house - had already received an offer of $1 million. Granted, that's $1 million NZD (thus somewhat less in USD), but still, a tad out of our current price range. So we're still looking.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
PS - to my earlier point about NZ being like a Bizarro AMERICA (28D: Song that begins "My country, 'tis of thee"): we rented a car at the Queenstown airport. It's a Nissan (OK, that's familiar) ... which appears to have two model names (??): "Sunny"
and, more perplexingly / hilariously, "Ex-Saloon"
as in "That hooker sure looks happy. What kind of hooker is she?" "Oh, that's Velda. She's EX-SALOON"