Title hunter of 1922 film / SUN 12-14-14 / Full complement for Quidditch team / Closest friend slangily / Korda who directed Sahara / Flux 2005 sci-fi film
Sunday, December 14, 2014
Constructor: Jim Peredo
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: "Well, Golly!" — "Gee" sound added to familiar phrases, creating wacky phrases, clued wackily ("?"-style)
- KITTY LITURGY (23A: Religious rituals for cats?)
- KANJI ARTIST (42A: Master of Japanese writing?)
- WEIRD ALGAE (52A: Strange pond scum?)
- GENIE JERK REACTION (67A: "Grant your own damn wishes," e.g.?)
- BEE GEE LINE (87A: "How deep is your love?" or "You should be dancing"?)
- GPS, I LOVE YOU (93A: Comment from a driver who finally reached his destination?)
- OH, DARJEELING (115A: Surprised comment upon rummaging through a tea chest?)
Word of the Day: ZOLTAN Korda (26D: Korda who directed "Sahara") —
(3 June 1895 – 13 October 1961) was a Hungarian-born motion picturescreenwriter, director and producer. He made his first film in Hungary in 1918, and worked with his brother Alexander Korda on filmmaking there and in London. They both moved to the United States in 1940 to Hollywood and the American film industry. […] In 1940, Zoltan Korda joined his brother Alexander in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California. Working through United Artists, he served as executive producer of The Thief of Bagdad. Zoltan Korda spent the rest of his life in southern California. He made another seven films, including the acclaimed 1943 World War II drama, Sahara (1943), for which he wrote the screenplay. It starred Humphrey Bogart. His films included A Woman's Vengeance (1947) with Charles Boyer and Jessica Tandy. (wikipedia)
• • •
This is the oldest theme in the book—or one of them—but it's mostly redeemed by a couple of features: genuinely funny theme answers, and a fairly wide open, fairly clean grid. I have to say that just this week, the overall fill quality of the puzzles appears to have taken at least a slight upturn. I haven't seen an avalanche of crud all week, that I can recall. I don't know if this is an anomaly, but I hope not. Perhaps there will be a renewed sense of commitment to polish. One can hope.
This is not the most contemporary of grids. Most of the fill feels like it could've come straight out of the era in which one might've said "Well, Golly" unironically. Even the internet slang (NETIZENS) feels dated. Still, though, we're not talking about bad dated. We're just talking about a lack of contemporary reference, which is fine if most of the answers are well-known words or phrases, one that people of any generation might know and use. I do want to give props to BESTIE, though—a nice little modern flourish. There's only one teensy glitch in the theme, and that's that you have to change the stress of the phrase pronunciation when you add the "gee" sound in GENIE JERK REACTION. "Knee" goes from stressed to unstressed syllable. This (admittedly minor) change doesn't happen with the others. It almost happens with DARJEELING, but I think of that word as (oddly) having three equally stressed syllables. Am I in the woods here, in the minutiae, chasing fireflies as they (don't) say? But it's true, none of those other added "gee" sounds change the stress of the original phrase. Consider it an observation rather than a criticism.
[Two of the base phrases are Beatles songs—can you find the other?]
ZOLTAN and JALAPA (exotic proper nouns both) were unknown to me, so there was some effort required in the NE. I had to scan the whole grid to find my error at DIPS / DOODLER. I had TIPS / TOODLER. I couldn't make any sense of the DOODLER clue (66D: Many a bored student). I had TODDLER at one point. I also couldn't process 103A: Arsenal workers (ARMORERS), as I now know Arsenal primarily / exclusively as an English Premiere League football team, and thus briefly couldn't remember what "arsenal" even meant. Even picturing the damn cannon logo of the football team, I couldn't remember. I had ARBORERS at one point, that's how far I'd lost the thread. Also, 121A: "Just ___" left me blank. And I had AS-. "Just a se-"? "Just as I…"? Not (for me) an easy FITB. Anyway, overall, nice little diversion. Simple theme, pleasantly executed. Nothing stunning, but not a faceplant, either.