THEME: The Saturday puzzle is themeless—the game is decoding tougher clues and figuring out a slew of longer words and phrases.
Today's crossword fill has gone all Hollywood! Here's a gallery of the retro stars in the grid:
48A: Actor whose '70s–'80s sitcom character was a cross-dresser is Jamie FARR from M*A*S*H. As cross-dressers go, he was a horribly unsuccessful one. He didn't look remotely attractive in a dress, nor did his transvestism earn him a discharge from the Army. Farr remains one of the most successful Lebanese-Americans in show business. Wait! Salma Hayek's dad was of Lebanese descent. I believe Jamie Farr has been eclipsed.
GOLDIE HAWN won Best Supporting Actress in the '60s (12D: "Cactus Flower" Oscar winner). Have any of you see that movie? No? I know her best from Laugh-In and Private Benjamin. Her current relevance in Hollywood seems to relate mainly to her daughter, Kate Hudson, who has carved out a solid career in terrible movies.
In Midnight Cowboy, the 28D: Dustin Hoffman role is RATSO RIZZO. "I'm walkin' here!" Who among us does not relish the chance to wield that line when we're working our pedestrian mojo and a car interferes? RATSO shows up by itself in crosswords far more often than the full name, and it took me years to figure out if it was spelled RATSO or RATZO. Here we follow the TSAR rule: If there's a spelling variant without a Z, it becomes a crossword staple. Barry Silk's inordinately fond of peppering his puzzles with Scrabbly letters, though, so he dressed up his RATSO with a two-Z RIZZO.
Henry FONDA was 48D:"The Grapes of Wrath" star, 1940. Truthfully, I don't think I've seen a single Henry Fonda movie other than On Golden Pond from the '80s. I, uh, hear good things about his earlier decades of work. Can I get partial credit for a handful of Jane, Peter, and Bridget Fonda movies?
Crosswordese 101: We're going to speak French for today's lesson: 27D: Pierre's possessive clues the two-word À TOI, which means "yours" or basically "of you." Three vowels plus a T? That's crossword gold, my friends. Somewhat more common in crosswords is À MOI ("mine"). Considerably less common is À LUI ("his/to him")—U being the least common vowel, it's not as helpful to the constructor in filling out a section of the grid. Other French possessives to know are SES ("his" or "her"), MES ("mine"—but also "month" in Spanish), and NOTRE ("our").
Look! Clues! And answers! Here are some of 'em:
- 23A: Pelvic bone (SACRUM). I just learned from Visual Thesaurus's "word of the day" e-mail this interesting tidbit: "The resemblance to sacred in this word for the bone that connects the spine to the pelvis is not accidental: it was believed by certain Greeks with naming rights that the soul resided in this spot: they called the bone hieron osteon. It became os sacrum in Latin, a compound from which we've dropped the first part." Go ahead. Reach around and see if you can't touch your soul.
- HUMOR ME is one of those colloquial-language entries I'm fond of. 30A: "I beg your indulgence" is just a tad less folksy.
- 37A: For the full time (TO TERM). I don't know that this phrase has any utility outside of gestation, but it's 100% "in the language" for that setting.
- 38A: Lizard with a dewlap (IGUANA). Iguanas have dewlaps? So do a lot of old people, but my dictionary applies the word only to animals. The wattle is pretty much the same thing and again, the dictionary lists only animal references. Who knew?
- 47A: New Wave band __ Boingo (OINGO). I am really not familiar with their oeuvre, but a clue like this demands an '80s music video:
- 52A: Sch. in Athens (OHIO U.). That's Athens, Ohio, not Athens, Georgia (home of the University of Georgia and the rock scene that birthed R.E.M.), nor the capital of Greece.
- When I read 59A: Hose part, I thought of feet, legs, seams, and control panties—not a garden hose and its NOZZLE.
- 61A: Bit of steamy prose is a MASH NOTE, a.k.a. a letter you send to the person you're infatuated with. You know how fatuous means foolish, silly, pointless? That's (etymologically speaking) how infatuation makes you.
- 13D: St. __ Mountains: Alaska/Canada range (ELIAS). Say what? That one's not ringing a bell for me. Far more often, ELIAS is clued with Elias Howe, inventor of the sewing machine, or Walter Elias Disney, whose middle name we really have no reason to know.