Eskimo boat / MON 12-27-10 / 1986 Keanu Reeves film / Newspaper columnist Kupcinet / Car in Playmates 1958 Beep Beep
Monday, December 27, 2010
Constructor: C. W. Stewart
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: "HERE'S JOHNNY!" (60A: Classic TV intro ... or a hint to the starts of 16-, 22-, 30-, 42- and 47-Across) — words that start theme answers are also the last names of famous guys named JOHNNY (I say "famous" despite the fact that I didn't know 60% of the JOHNNYs in question)
Word of the Day: PLINTH (28D: Base of a column) —
In architecture, a plinth is the base or platform upon which a column, pedestal, statue, monument or structure rests. Gottfried Semper's The Four Elements of Architecture (1851) posited that the plinth, the hearth, the roof, and the wall make up all of architectural theory. The plinth usually rests directly on the ground, or "stylobate". According to Semper, the plinth exists to negotiate between a structure and the ground. Semper's theory has been very influential in the subsequent development of architecture. In its most basic form, a plinth is a plain, rectangular block of stone (curved plinths are relatively rare). (wikipedia)
Super-fast solve for me—not at all atypical for a Monday. Struggled briefly to come up with PLINTH, and briefly again to come up with "RIVER'S EDGE," which must be somewhat obscure to a good chunk of you. I mean, it's a movie about teenagers, and I saw it in the theater as a teenager, and I still couldn't come up with the name quickly. What's weirder to me about this theme is the quality of the JOHNNYs. Two are flat-out famous: CASH and BENCH. Country music legend and Hall-of-Fame catcher for the Big Red Machine. The others... didn't know any of them. Scratch that. I *thought* I didn't know any of them, but then posited (to myself?) that JOHNNY NASH was the guy who sang "I Can See Clearly Now the Rain Is Gone" or whatever that song is called. But JOHNNY MILLER (a '70s golfer) and JOHNNY RIVERS (a '60s singer)—not ringing bells. Thankfully, knowing them was completely immaterial to the solving process. Done in 2:36.
- 16A: Second-stringer (BENCH WARMER)
- 22A: Compensation in bills and coins (CASH PAYMENT)
- 30A: "Great taste ... less filling!" sloganeer (MILLER LITE)
- 42A: 1986 Keanu Reeves film ("RIVER'S EDGE") — I know it's picky, but I'm not thrilled with the apostrophe in the title; presumably there is no apostrophe in Mr. RIVERS' name
- 47A: Car in the Playmates' 1958 hit "Beep Beep" (NASH RAMBLER)
I hope no one takes offense when I say that this puzzle seems aimed at somewhat older folks (Keanu Reeves movie aside). It's simply a descriptive statement—I think the general quality of the grid is quite good, especially considering the very high theme density. Hard to keep things Monday-appropriate (predominantly easy, familiar answers) and cram that many theme answers in there. Generally, the more space the theme takes up, the harder it is to keep the fill simple. Ms. Stewart knows what she's doing on these early-week puzzles.
- 40A: Eskimo boat (UMIAK) — along with PLINTH, one of two decidedly non-Mondayish answers in the grid. Longtime solvers and Inuit culture aficionados will know UMIAK, but that's a roughie for people trying to break into the solving game.
- 32D: Newspaper columnist Kupcinet (IRV) — Again, don't know him. I'm guessing this is another answer that will be more familiar to older than to younger solvers (and I don't qualify as "younger" any more, btw). IRV Kupcinet wrote for the Chicago Sun-Times for six decades ('40s-'2000s).
- 24D: Fish-tailed males (MERMEN) — that's sort of a sassy little answer for a Monday. And under the Eskimo boat and alongside the MORAYS (9D: Some eels)—aquatically appropriate
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]