Simon of opera / FRI 9-7-12 / Speed Six maker / Azadi Stadium setting / Currency taken out of circulation 1953 / Great 18th century ruler / Bait fish for pike angling / Like joule watt-second
Friday, September 7, 2012
Constructor: Martin Ashwood-Smith
Relative difficulty: Medium
Word of the Day: William DEMAREST (20D: William of "My Three Sons") —
Carl William Demarest (February 27, 1892 – December 28, 1983) was an American character actor. A veteran of World War I, Demarest became a prolific film and television actor, working on over 140 films. He frequently played crusty but good-hearted roles. [...] He started in show business working in vaudeville, appearing with his wife as "Demarest and Colette", then moved on to Broadway. His film career began in 1926 and spanned the decades up to the 1970s. Demarest worked regularly with director Preston Sturges, becoming part of a "stock" troupe of actors that Sturges repeatedly cast in his films. He appeared in ten films written by Sturges, eight of which were under his direction, including The Lady Eve, Sullivan's Travels, and The Miracle of Morgan's Creek. His most famous TV role was in the ABC and thenCBS sitcom My Three Sons from 1965 to 1972, playing Uncle Charley O'Casey. He replacedWilliam Frawley, whose failing health had made procuring insurance impossible. Demarest had worked with Fred MacMurray previously in the 1935 film Hands Across the Table, the 1945 filmPardon My Past, the 1948 film On Our Merry Way and the 1955 film The Far Horizons and was a personal friend of MacMurray. (wikipedia)
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ECH, ASLOPE, and maybe A DEAD, I don't see that much to complain about, which is especially remarkable given that the central 3-stack is really, through its nine-letter center, a 5-stack! Plus there are great bits of fill all over the place, like COLD SWEAT and FAKE IT. Oh, I don't know what DACE are (6D: Bait fish for pike angling) ... and there's some bygone currency I've never heard (RIN) — and yet I'm not inclined to hold these little answers against the puzzle, especially considering how good the grid is overall. I NEED A VOLUNTEER (30A: Statement resulting in hand-raising) and LET THERE BE LIGHT are really golden grid-spanning answers.
- 13D: Mimic Mae West (TEASE) — odd. She did some teasing, I guess. But there are so many other things she did (not to mention so many other ways to clue TEASE) that this clue just felt like an awkward fit.
- 43D: Player of TV detective Spenser (URICH) — watched "Spenser: For Hire" a lot in the '80s. My mom thought Robert URICH was handsome, a feeling I respected a lot more than her fondness for a certain *other* P.I. named Magnum.
- 44D: Auxiliary memory for fast retrieval (CACHE) — nice modern clue on this one.
- 53D: Currency unit taken out of circulation in 1953 (RIN) — Ew, bygone currency. Didn't even see this one. I'd've gone with ["There's no ___ 'team'"]. Just makes more sense.