WEDNESDAY, Aug. 6, 2008 - Caleb Madison (River of Irkutsk/ Setting of many a Monet painting / "Santa Baby" singer, 1953)
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Relative difficulty: 180/181 Easy, 1/181 Impossible
THEME: KIDS, as explained by (46A: Word that's missing from 20-, 26-, 48- and 59-Across and 9- and 39-Down (KID).
I'm just the right age to remember seeing The Flamingo Kid with my family in the theater in 1984. So that was my first thought for 9D, but it clearly didn't fit and Matt Dillon was in other movies of that era. But then I came to 26A, the 1984 Ralph Macchio film, and I had no doubt it was (The) Karate Kid. It didn't occur to me that both had Kid, but I figured it must be a rebus or something and I continued on. Finally, not much later, I got to the 46A explanation, filled it in immediately, and went back to clean up.
- 46A: Word that's missing from 20-, 26-, 48- and 59-Across and 9- and 39-Down (KID)
- 20A: 1972 Charles Grodin film, with "The" (HEARTBREAK)
- 26A: 1984 Ralph Macchio film, with "The" (KARATE)
- 48A: Willie Mays's sobriquet (SAY HEY)
- 59A: 1965 Steve McQueen title role (CINCINNATI)
- 9D: 1984 Matt Dillon title role (FLAMINGO)
- 39D: Nickname for Harry Longabaugh (SUNDANCE)
A coupla notes about the theme. First, when I see a list like "20-, 26-, 48- and 59-Across and 9- and 39-Down", you might as well say "some across and down answers". I get (mildly) annoyed when I need to keep referring back to the list, and often I wind up just assuming it's the long ones and never referring back. It's similar with other cross-referenced clues (either the "A: See b. B: What a did" or "A: See b. B: With a, this two word answer".)--sometimes I like them, but only if their relationship is tight and they're (nearly) adjacent--I hate when they're something like 4A and 38D, and if they're the latter type I easily get confused about which part goes in which space.
Second, the symmetry seems off. Two films, two title roles and two nicknames seems okay. But one of the nicknames is known from a movie character and one is not. Two of the movies involved are from 1984, the others from different eras. (Though if you were born in the '90, like I think the constructor was, they're all from Way Back Then.)
And the nicknames seem off too. Maybe it was different with Longabaugh, but in the movie from which I know the character he's always called Sundance (no-Kid) or referred to as The Sundance Kid.
It's déjà vu all over again:
I talked about KIDS all day in yesterday's write-up, then that's the theme today. I discussed how to spell 59A: 1965 Steve McQueen title role (CINCINNATI), and someone even provided a helpful mnemonic. (More helpful is that I had the double-N in place before I saw the clue.) We talked about prepositionful phrases the other day, and here we had 63A: Have too much of, briefly (OD ON). And I was sitting on my 56A: TV viewer's vantage point (SOFA) while I solved this.
They can't do that, can they?:
Quick, name every John you can think of from dramas. Er, sorry, make that 60D: Charles of mysteries (NORA). Ridiculous.
I can't claim never to have heard of her because I think we've seen her before. PuzzleGirl looked it up and reports that she's of Nick and Nora Charles, and, as Wade pointed out, "[t]hey're the ones with that damn dog." Well, okay, I guess I'll accept it since the crosses were fair.
What's that you say? You'd never heard of 70A: Chinese weight (TAEL)? Oh yeah, No One Has.
I guess we need to know every weight and measure in the world now, so I'll start feeding you a few every day until Rex is back. For today, try to remember that there are approximately 4370 tael in each berkovet (437 per pood). Or, if you prefer, 1600 tael per picul. And, wait for it, 53 obols per tael.
Stuff from my past:
- Some friends and I dressed up and went to the Mall of America for the premier of Spice World, a movie featuring 24A: Spice Girl Halliwell (GERI). I was Mutton Chop Spice.
- My first car was a 1989 silver Dodge Shadow named 5D: Long-range German gun of W.W. I (BIG BERTHA).
Weird association that actually makes total sense if Wade thinks about it:
- 37A: San ___, Tex. (ANGELO). This is pretty much smack-dab in the center of Tex.
Trying too hard, Words or clues I don't care about, or Ugly cluing:
- Needlessly wordy: 53A: They all lead to Rome, in a saying (ROADS).
- Random pope: 64A: Sainted ninth-century pope (LEO IV).
- Plural you would never use: 65A: Rio and Sedona (KIAS).
- Obscure foreign mountain: 27D: Japan's largest active volcano (ASO).
- Common name clued as an obscure river: 33D: River of Irkutsk (LENA).
- Generic fill-in-the-blank: 3D: ___ chart (NATAL). (It's astrology.)
- Random word no one ever uses for a common religious item: 32D: Crucifix (ROOD).
- 66A: Setting of many a Monet painting (PARC). I was trying to think of museums.
- 37D: Malfoy, to Harry Potter (ARCHRIVAL). I had archenemy.
- 17A: "Santa Baby" singer, 1953 (KITT).
Possibly one more day of me, but we'll have King Rex back soon, I promise!