Tiered tower / WED 5-18-11 / Actress Mills others / Titania's husband / Quick turnaround slangily / Butterfly wrapping / Dry stretch in Mongolia
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Constructor: David J. Kahn
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: SIDNEY / LUMET (58A: With 46-Across, late, legendary director) — many theme answers related to his movies
Word of the Day: DANAË (40D: Mother of Perseus) —
In Greek mythology, Danaë [...] was a daughter of King Acrisius of Argos and Eurydice (no relation to Orpheus' Eurydice). She was the mother of Perseus by Zeus. She was sometimes credited with founding the city of Ardea in Latium. // Disappointed by his lack of male heirs, Acrisius asked an oracle if this would change. The oracle told him to go to the Earth's end where he would be killed by his daughter's son. She was childless and, meaning to keep her so, he shut her up in a bronze tower or cave. But Zeus came to her in the form of golden rain, and impregnated her. Soon after, their child Perseus was born. (wikipedia)
Like most tribute puzzles for the recently deceased (at least the ones I can remember) this one felt a little ragged. Crammed full of the deceased's accomplishments — those that can be arranged symmetrically, anyway — but otherwise not very clever, and with accompanying fill that is mediocre to bad. This puzzle has theme density, which includes the cool crossing central 15s, but that's about all that's really nice about it. Then you've got ridiculous words like OVERMAN (15A: Provide with too much staffing) and oddball words like ELEMIS and a long (and thus obtrusive) plural name in JULIETS and the strange and unwelcome two-part aria "O PATRIA / MIA" (a two-part answer that long should be themed or should not exist) and a ton of ugly little junk like RUN A, ASTIR, ERO, ABES. GRIFFITH is a total stretch, theme-wise (a partial name that is there only to counter AL PACINO). Grid structure is interesting, but the puzzle wasn't fun to do. Just movie trivia. No playfulness or pizzazz. This is better than the Elizabeth Taylor tribute puzzle, but not by much.
- 4A: 58-/46-Across movie (1973) ("SERPICO")
- 7D: 58-/46-Across movie (1981) ("PRINCE OF THE CITY")
- 37A: 58-/46-Across movie (1975) ("DOG DAY AFTERNOON")
- 23A: With 55-Across, 58-/46-Across movie (1964) ("FAIL / SAFE")
- 68A: Frequent location of 58-/46-Across movies (NEW YORK)
- 28A: "12 ___ Men," 58-/46-Across movie (1957) ("ANGRY")
- 16- and 64A: Workplace for 58-/46-Across (LOT / SET)
- 11D: Star of 4- and 37-Down (AL PACINO)
- 39D: D.W. ___ Award, honor for 58-/46-Across for lifetime achievement (GRIFFITH)
- 10A: Quick turnaround, slangily (UEY) — this is how I realized RUN A was not (the much better) ROOM (26D: ___ temperature).
- 60A: Butterfly wrapping? (OBI) — I'm guessing this is some kind of "Madame Butterfly" reference.
- 69A: Where Oskar Schindler is buried: Abbr. (ISR.) — if you got mad at me for not having seen "My Cousin Vinny," well, I have other "movies I haven't seen" news for you...
- 1D: Tiered tower (PAGODA) — I consistently confuse this word with BODEGA.
- 61D: Funny Stewart (JON) — I had JAN, believing that the clue was referring to the SNL actress (whose name, it turns out, is JAN Hooks, duh). This is ironic as I watch "The Daily Show" religiously (every T-F morning, DVR'd from the night before)
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]