WEDNESDAY, Aug. 13, 2008 - Victor Fleming (LIKE AN INSCRIBED PILLAR / Soup spherule / CORPORATE GADFLY'S PURCHASE, MAYBE / SPRING AIR RIVAL)
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: "Kitty" - "Kitty" is the clue for four 15-letter theme answers
Another super simple puzzle with next-to-no stumbling blocks. Weirdly, I had just finished solving another puzzle with this very same conceit (same clue for all theme answers) before I started this one. It's not a favorite of mine, in that the answers are not usually clever, but instead are simply descriptive, and they often lead to answers that feel slightly off in terms of their colloquial aptness. Today's answers are mostly fine, though I think of "Kitty" as an affectionate name one calls any cat, as opposed to a nickname (though I am sure that there are people who have nicknamed their cat "kitty"). I don't know anything about Kitty Carlisle except that there was a "Simpsons" joke once about the head of Kitty Carlisle. Oh yeah, it's in "Bart Gets Famous" - acc. to Wikipedia: "A dream sequence has Bart playing Match Game 2034, where Bart sits next to "the vivacious head of Kitty Carlisle" in a jar." I think of BARKEEP as inherently masculine, so it took me a while to get it as the second word in Miss Kitty's job description.
- 17A: Kitty (actress Carlisle)
- 27A: Kitty (poker table money)
- 46A: Kitty ("Gunsmoke" barkeep)
- 59A: Kitty (nickname for a cat)
Smooth fill all around, for the most part. The worst letter in the whole puzzle is the far NW corner - the last letter I filled in, largely because I completely forgot about it. Thought I was done, but no. DINTS (1A: Forces)????? When is the last time you, or anyone, used that word in the plural, or in any way excepting in the phrase "by DINT of" something or other? Ugh. And I guess some locks have DIALs (1D: Lock feature). [Combination lock feature] would have been nice. The one clue that puzzled me the most was 39D: Corporate gadfly's purchase, maybe (one share). Gadfly? What ... why? What does "gadfly" have to do with a small stock purchase? How is such a purchase annoying? I'm sure there's a reason, but it's lost on me.
We've got some good clue lingo today, with both "denizen" and "hiree" making appearances (4D: Terarrium denizen and 13D: Wedding hiree). "Spherule" is not nearly as common, but I've seen it before (27D: Soup spherule). Tiny sphere. PEA. Cute. Am I the only one who wants SHEAFS to be SHEAVES (53A: Binds in a bundle) - oh, wait, it's a verb! Nevermind. I mean, that's a weirder word, but at least it doesn't scream rule violation. "Dupes" (50D) is also a weird word - as is its answer: REPROS. I guess we're dealing with "duplicates" and "reproductions," but "dupes" sounds like there's intent to deceive involve. Coincidence, I guess. I knew OTIS made elevators, but not "moving walkways" (like in airports? - my daughter loves those, and escalators) (66A: Maker of moving walkways). She does not love "Sesame Street," and neither did I when I was little, which may explain why I had GUS for GUY for so long at 43A: _____ Smiley of "Sesame Street".
There seemed to be a lot of fill-in-the-blank answers today, and easy ones at that. I guess there are just six. Is that a lot? I don't have stats. The point is, I guess, that they were all - except GUY :( - complete gimmes, making this puzzle much easier than it could have / should have been.
- 6A: Show off at the gym, say (flex) - gimme. Watched weight-lifting for a little bit today. Scary. Always looks like some part of the lifter's body is just going to snap / explode.
- 10A: Fingered, briefly (I.D.'ed) - sounds OK, but looks all kinds of wrong when you write it out. "Fingered" is on my list of least favorite words.
- 41A: Gasoline choice: Abbr. (reg.) - really? Still?
- 55A: Humble reply to praise ("I try") - that is what's called mock humble, i.e. not humble, i.e. someone showing off or playing the @#$#ing martyr.
- 65A: Members in a 100-member club: Abbr. (sens.) - again, super-easy. Too easy. What else has exactly 100 members?
- 67A: Pesach feast (Seder) - Does "Pesach" mean "Passover?" WHOA, I just learned that Pasch (which, as a medievalist, I always knew as Easter) is simply the Christian spelling of "Pesach," and that "Pasch" can also mean "Passover." Interesting (to at least one person, i.e. me)
- 5D: Like an inscribed pillar (stelar) - "Stelar! Stelar!" Learned STELA from xwords. Never seen the adjectival form before.
- 18D: Spring Air rival (Serta) - never heard of the mattress in the clue. SERTA, on the other hand, is a frequent grid denizen.
- 61D: Sumter and McHenry: Abbr. (fts.) - lots of "abbr." today. Or so my typing fingers tell me. The abbrev. for "Fort" always strikes me as odd, given that it's the same as the abbrev. for "Feet"
- 48D: Vitamin in liver (niacin) - I hope it's somewhere else, because liver is nasty. I didn't even see this clue today, for which I am grateful. YES I am (56D: "_____ Can" (Sammy Davis Jr. autobiography))
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld