Barfly's request / SAT 3-5-16 / Jimmy Carter's mother / Stain / Heavy duty / Bush native to the South
Saturday, March 5, 2016
Constructor: Roland Huget
Relative difficulty: Medium
Word of the Day: CLORIS (19A: She played "Phyllis on TV's "Phyllis")
Cloris Leachman (born April 30, 1926) is an American actress of stage, film, and television. She has won eight Primetime Emmy Awards (more than any other performer) and one Daytime Emmy Award. She co-starred in the 1971 film The Last Picture Show, for which she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. As Miss Chicago, Leachman competed in the 20th Miss America pageant and placed in the Top 16 in 1946. Leachman's longest-running role was the nosy, self-centered, and manipulative landlady Phyllis Lindstrom on the 1970s TV series Mary Tyler Moore, and later on the spinoff series, Phyllis. She also appeared in three Mel Brooks films, including Young Frankenstein. She had a regular role in the last two seasons of The Facts of Life, portraying the character Beverly Ann Stickle. She also played the role of Daisy May "Granny" Moses in the 1993 film The Beverly Hillbillies, directed by Penelope Spheeris. In the 2000s, she had a recurring role as Ida Gorski on Malcolm in the Middle. She appeared as a roaster in the Comedy Central Roast of Bob Saget in 2008. (Wikipedia)
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But maybe this puzzle would have actually been just the thing to lull him to sleep-- I'll be blunt: I thought it was kinda boring. TALCUMS (1D: Choices in the baby department) got my blood flowing, but only because I hate plurals like that. "Please help me choose from this dizzying array of TALCUMS!" I had IMBLUE instead of IMBRUE (8D: Stain), not knowing the film director ERLE C. Kenton, and certainly not knowing this archaic literary definition of besmirch. Thank goodness we've got a homophonous EARL (37A: Overseas court figure) to make up for my missing the first one.
ECH (11D: Level in an org.)? ECH indeed. ENOL ether? Diethyl ether is way more popular. CMDR ASWE ORL NCIS ITT are lurking in the shadows of an otherwise pretty clean grid. From a distance, this puzzle isn't bad at all-- SILENT TREATMENT (7D: Quiet after the storm, maybe) is a great marquee and BEER MUG (12D: A head might go over the top of it) is fun fill with a fun clue. I loved TAMALE with its wonderful clue (34A: Husky food?)-- definitely had KIBBLE there for a bit. ARM WRESTLE (56A: Try to win hands down?) is also good-- so what's my problem? Not sure. Like I said, from a distance, all filled in, it seems better than it did when I was actually solving it. Maybe it's grid-locked Stockholm Syndrome, idk.
I don't like BODS (44A: Gym bunnies work on them). I wasn't familiar with the term "gym bunny" and it got my eyes narrowing. The stereotype is that women go to the gym to lose weight, and men go to the gym to get strong. I like the idea of a woman working on her BOD to increase strength and fitness, but the word "bunny" here keeps it sounding really superficial. It's very easy to clue BODS in a gender neutral way, and I would have preferred that it had been.
Do they really play I LOVE LA [at Staples Center after every Lakers victory]? That's hilarious. Randy Newman is a raunchy, cynical, and dare-I-say deep songwriter-- not just the dude who did that "Toy Story" song. "Trouble in Paradise" is a great album and, well, I LOVE LA is no "New York, New York."
And to those who may have missed it, the CrossWorld REELS as it reacts to the bombshell that was dropped today regarding the plagiarism of NYT grids, clues and themes by Tim Parker, the "editor" of USA Today/Universal's crosswords. Because it's "just crosswords" this kind of crime tends to stay off the radar, but if you look at the numbers expertly laid out by Oliver Roeder and the folks at FiveThirtyEight, it's absolutely flagrant and shameful. Check out the article here.
Signed, Lena Webb, Court Jester of CrossWorld
[Follow Lena on Twitter]