1965 Vivien Leigh movie / TUE 6-22-10 / Hockshop receipt / Old comics boy with dog Tige / Hallucinogen-yielding cactus
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Constructor: Barry C. Silk
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: GHOST (36A: Word game ... or a word that can precede the starts of 18-, 26-, 43- and 54-Across) — clue pretty much says it all: GHOST TOWN, GHOST SHIP, GHOSTBUSTER, GHOST STORY
Word of the Day: GHOST —
Ghost is a word game in which players take turns adding letters to a growing word fragment, trying not to be the one to complete a valid word. If a player completes a word, they lose that round of the game and starts a new round. Each fragment must be the beginning of an actual word. Usually some minimum is set on the length of a word that counts, such as three or four letters. (wikipedia)
Though I feel as if I've said this before, I'll say it now anyway: I've never heard of "GHOST." This made not one bit of difference to my ability to solve this puzzle quickly, which says something about how much gleaning the theme means to my efficient dispatching of early-week puzzles (not at all, usually). I was impressed by the wide open spaces in the N-to-W and E-to-S sections, and I thought the bottom half of the grid in particular was very smoothly filled. Not fond of the "OF" pile-up. Don't like words recurring. Don't like words recurring *and* intersecting. So recurring and intersecting and intersecting again!? Superbad. And not the good kind of superbad. The bad kind (TEN OF, A LOT OF, SHIP OF ...). There's oddly a lot of intersecting letter strings to go with this OF madness, including two four-letter strings (AIREs in East, ARKSs in West), and two more threes (BUS and ERR, both in SW). The latter are negligible and I wouldn't have gone looking for them had there not been the fours and the OFs.
Theme answers are boring and this "word that can precede" stuff is pretty old hat—needs something odd or spicy to make it interesting. I guess no good phrases start with "WHISPERER" or "WRITER" or "FACE KILLAH."
- 18A: Governing body of a municipality (TOWN COUNCIL)
- 26A: 1965 Vivien Leigh movie ("SHIP OF FOOLS")
- 43A: Old comics boy with the dog Tige (BUSTER BROWN)
- 54A: Center of attention around a campfire say (STORY TELLER)
Only hold-up of any note came as I tried to escape the NW. PAWN ... ? TICKET never occurred to me (3D: Hockshop receipt). Even now, it seems too simple, despite clearly being right. I'm pretty sure my brain went "BROKER?" and then quit. I ended up picking up that western section at the very end of the solve. Other miscues: BACK DOOR for SIDE DOOR (51A: Delivery entrance, maybe); HEEDS for HARKS (27D: Pays attention); COYOTE for PEYOTE — that was a no-look entry that backfired (62A: Hallucinogen-yielding cactus); and RESINS (?) for STAINS (59A: Deck treatments). Despite my well-documented non-love for "Seinfeld," I managed to pick up the ELAINE / JERRY pair easily (15A: Sitcom pal of 46-Down + 46D: Former boyfriend of 15-Across). In fact, I wrote in ELAINE from just a cross or two, and just hoped that the cross-referenced clue would somehow involve "Seinfeld"; bingo.
- 4A: Female TV dog played by males (LASSIE) — so this is why we never see LASSIE pee...
- 29D: Field of Plato and Aristotle (PHILOSOPHY) — just before solving, I was reading about artist Cy Twombly's "Five Greek Poets and a Philosopher" in John Waters' (new, excellent, inspirational) memoir, "Role Models." Names scrawled on pieces of white paper in giant, uneven caps. Of potential puzzling interest: Twombly served in the army as a cryptologist (wikipedia).
- 52D: Occasionally punted comics canine (ODIE) — nice, odd, funny-sounding clue. Demonstrates a strangely deep knowledge of "Garfield" lore. I know Garfield hates Mondays and loves lasagna. I don't know much more. And I'm pretty sure I used to have "Garfield" bedsheets as a child.
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