Bygone country name or its currency / SAT 8-24-13 / One of muskrats in 1976 hit Muskrat Love / Director/screenwriter Penn / Pippin Tony winner / It springs from Monte Falterona / Brand of literature / Chain of off-price department stores / Human Development Report publisher in brief / Or else despiser of good manners Shak
Saturday, August 24, 2013
Constructor: Frederick J. Healy
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: none, except for that SPARE TIRE clue (28D: Likely result of excess 17- and 53-Across), which I don't think constitutes a theme
Word of the Day: STEIN MART (8D: Chain of off-price department stores) —
Stein Mart is a nationwide department store based in Jacksonville, Florida. The company reported a profit of nearly $24 million in 2009 with operation of 264 stores in 29 states. Stein Mart has locations primarily in the Southeast and Texas. Stein Mart's stores carry recent trends in clothing for both men and women. Additionally, home décor, accessories, and shoes are all available at discounted prices. (wikipedia)
• • •This was pretty damned easy up top, but then I just couldn't come down south of KICKSTART without rebooting completely (starting w/ MARLEE and then SAM in the SE) (41D: Actress Matlin + 48A: One of the muskrats in the 1976 hit "Muskrat Love"). None of the Downs running through KICKSTART were computing for me off their initial letters, and I could *not* get out of that little eastern portion. RANG took me Forever (30D: Seemed to be) and with --KEY, I strangely couldn't see ON KEY (39A: Not at all sharp, maybe). But then there were enough gimmes down south to get me going again, and I finished in very good time, somewhere in the 8s, with the second "E" in EPEE my last letter.
A RUDE is a terrible partial, but beyond that, nothing here really bugged me at all. Long answers are very clean and crisp, if a tad on the staid side. I've never heard of STEIN MART, so that was a challenge ... actually less of a challenge than it should've been, as I got the STEIN part entirely from crosses, and then without too much trouble was able to infer the -MART part—a not uncommon store suffix, that. I thought 26D: "Exodus" character was a gimme, and it was, in that alternative universe where the answer is ELI. In this universe, however, I just screwed up, and with a neighboring screw-up in KAL Penn (25D: Director/screenwriter Penn), that little section took some rewriting to get through. But for a Saturday, there wasn't that much resistance. I enjoyed this one. It had no junk, it had some good answers, and I made very good time. I can ask for more, but not that much more.