Furniture style of Louis XV / SUN 2-2-14 / Girl's name meaning "happiness" / Super Bowl successes, for short
Sunday, February 2, 2014
Constructor: Dick Shlakman and Jeff Chen
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: "Play on Words" -- phrases that originated from Shakespeare's "Macbeth"
Word of the Day: THE SCOTTISH PLAY [Superstitious thespian's name for a work of Shakespeare ... from which 21-, 23-, 37-, 58- and 60-Down all come]
The Scottish Play and the The Bard's Play are euphemisms for William Shakespeare's Macbeth. The first is a reference to the play's Scottish setting, the second a reference to Shakespeare's popular nickname. According to a theatrical superstition, called the Scottish curse, speaking the name Macbeth inside a theatre will cause disaster. A variation of the superstition forbids direct quotation of the play (except during rehearsals) while inside a theater.
Because of this superstition, the lead character is most often referred to as the Scottish King or Scottish Lord. Sometimes Mackers is used to avoid saying the name, mostly in North America.
• • •If I learn nothing else today, that's a pretty interesting superstition. We have a world-class Shakespeare theater here in Staunton so there are lots of Bardbots running around; I'll be sure to impress them with this next chance I get.
- 21-Down [Compassion, figuratively] = MILK OF HUMAN KINDNESS
- 23-Down [Start of many jokes] = KNOCK KNOCK. WHO'S THERE?
- 37-Down [Tautological statement of finality] = WHAT'S DONE IS DONE
- 58-Down [A single stroke] = ONE FELL SWOOP
- 60-Down [What the lucky person leads] = A CHARMED LIFE
There's a minor visual element as well, revealed at 100-Down, where BLOOD is clued as [Drippings appropriately positioned under the circled letters]. Those seven letters form the shape of a dagger or sword, fitting since (spoiler alert) the Thane of Glamis whacks almost as many people as Joe Pesci in "GoodFellas" and "Casino" combined.
Despite learning some cool new Shakespeare facts, I can't say the theme itself or the visual aspect of it grabbed me much. You can pick a bunch of in-the-language phrases from most of the big guy's plays -- I remember seeing "Romeo and Juliet" for the first time at the the above-linked theater, and every three minutes I'd hear a familiar line. The dagger, too is sort of just there without any clever Gorskian rationale. I know, the BLOOD. Not that there's anything wrong with the whole idea, but Saturday's puzzle will retain its title as NYX puz of the week.
Fill had some nice touches, including actress IONE SKYE who I believe chose her stage name from those two Scottish islands? Wrong, but sort of close. Her famous Scottish dad took her middle name from the island but I was thinking Iona as the other one, not Ione. Also good: DURAN DURAN, POLO SHIRT, TOODLE-OO (I had ?????EOO and was sure I had something wrong), HEAVE-HO and ROCOCO.
Favorite clue: [One for the money?] for UNUM. I guess it's time to return to my "musty vibe" theme one more time, though, as I couldn't find a single clue in here that couldn't have been written ten years ago. In a big Sunday puzzle that seems heavy on the old and weak on the new.
Thanks to Rex for handing me the keys for a week, and to readers and commenters for keeping it lively. Visit all my websites if you feel like it, they're open 24/7/365.
Signed, Matt Gaffney, Regent of CrossWorld for 24 more hours...unless I have Rex taken out, in which case I could rule forever. A trio of witches on a heath told me this would be a swell idea. I'll think about it...nah, too much work!