TUESDAY, Mar. 17, 2009 - R Chisholm (1940s hit radio show featuring bartender Archie / Pakistani leader 1977-88 / Ferrara ruling family)
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Relative difficulty: Challenging
THEME: Obliquely saluting the Irish - five theme answers all begin with possessive forms of a conventionally Irish names; the theme is intended as a "salute" to ERIN (57D: Land that's saluted in this puzzle)
Word of the Day: GSA (38D: Fed. property overseer) - General Services Administration: sets policy for and manages government property and records. More specifically, the GSA's duties include the construction and operation of buildings; procurement and distribution of supplies; utilization and disposal of property; management of transportation, traffic, and communications; and management of the government's automatic data processing resources program. (answers.com)
How to salute the Irish on St. Patrick's Day? Well, first, start in a TAVERN. They love that. Then trot out their traditional heroes, like ... that incompetent boob who was shipwrecked for the better part of a decade, or ... that irrepressible prisoner of war who was played by an "avid amateur pornographer" who was later bludgeoned to death. Yes, that'll do. Happy St. Patrick's Day!
This was a good day for (very) old people. None of the theme answers dates from after 1970, and three of them date back to the pre-television era. 30s, 40s, 40s, 60s, 60s. "DUFFY'S TAVERN" and "MCNAMARA'S BAND" were absolutely unknown to me. I got to the DUFFY part of that answer quickly and then realized it was going to be a (relatively) long solve. My wife challenged me to name Anyone named "DUFFY" last night, and I couldn't, though this morning Patrick DUFFY came to me as soon as I got out of bed. He played that guy from "Dallas" ... who dreamed an entire season. There's a contemporary singer named "DUFFY," but since she just has one name, like CHER or MADONNA, I wasn't sure there was anything particularly Irish about her.
- 20A: 1940s hit radio show featuring the bartender Archie ("Duffy's Tavern") - when I think of "taverns," I think MOE'S. When I think of a guy named "Archie" in a "tavern," I think "All in the Family" "Archie" is also the nickname of Doug Dreiberg's "owl-ship" in "Watchmen" (short for "Archimedes"), in case anyone ever asks you.
- 28A: 1939 James Joyce novel ("Finnegans Wake")
- 36A: 1960s sitcom about a group of castaways ("Gilligan's Island")
- 44A: 1946 Bing Crosby hit ("McNamara's Band")
- 51A: 1960s sitcom set in a P.O.W. camp ("Hogan's Heroes")
The personal pronoun "I" is in this puzzle three times. Is there a limit?
- NO I (32D: "_____ won't!")
- I TOO (62A: "Am _____ late?") - usually clued as a Langston Hughes poem
- I AM SO (37D: Schoolyard retort)
There are more black squares in this puzzle than I have seen in a puzzle in ages. I consider 42 pretty high. Most early-mid-week puzzles have 38 or 40. This one has 46. This makes the grid Very easy to fill, and means, in this case, that there are No Long Downs. Grid becomes very boring very quickly (outside of the theme answers). The one part of the grid I do like is the GUMP DISCO FELONS part, primarily for the jarring incongruity. (36D: Forrest _____, 1994 Oscar-winning role + 33D: Establishement with a revolving mirrored ball + 28D: Prison population).
- 35A: Pakistani leader 1977-88 (Zia) - completely unknown to me. "General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq (Arabic: محمد ضياء الحق) (b. August 12, 1924–August 17, 1988) was the president and military ruler of Pakistan from July 1977 to his death in August 1988." (wikipedia)
- 50A: Sculler's item (oar) - Crew being one of the more popular sports in CrossWorld
- 66A: Jew traditionally dressed in a black coat and hat (Hasid) - had a conversation with my barber (!?!?) about HASIDs just the other day. I have no idea how it could have come up. Something about hair, I'm sure.
- 6D: Ado (bustle) - here was the source of my major slowdown. I had TUSSLE, which made both BASE (6A: Contemptible) and DUFFY'S TAVERN very hard to see. I later changed TUSSLE to BUSSLE, forgetting that that is not a valid spelling of the word.
- 60D: Instrument famously played by Bill Clinton on "The Arsenio Hall Show" (sax) - nothing says "early 90s" better than this clue. The SAX is also Lisa Simpson's instrument.