Friday, December 25, 2009

It's So Good

During our family Christmas dinner tonight I felt grateful for the blessings of the season, chief among them -- the realization that I won't have to listen to Madonna's creepy version of Santa Baby until next Christmas season (which starts in October around here). But the song wasn't always the ear poison perpetrated by Madonna.  First recorded by Eartha Kitt in 1953, Santa Baby was a huge hit for this chanteuse. She became famous for her r-r-r-r-r-rolling purr (evidenced in this C'est Si Bon clip) which later made her a convincing Catwoman.

In crosswords, EARTHA is often a gimme, uniquely clued; there aren't that many Eartha's in the Rolodex.  Her last name, KITT, has some alternate cluing angles: the talking car in Knight Rider; an observatory in Arizona.  But the primary association is Eartha's, whose life was so rich, she wrote three autobiographies.  Has that talking car written even one?

When cluing KITT, puzzlemakers will drill deep down into the biodata to mix it up; she's the Casbah actress, the slinky Mink, Schmink singer, the Thursday's Child author.

Solver's Takeaway: Take note of micro-data about crossword regulars (like Kitt) with unique names and limited cluing angles. Grab your spelunker's helmut and drill down into the biographies of your favorites.

In her later years, Kitt said that Santa Baby was one her favorite recordings.  If the world is a stage, then Eartha Kitt left it with hauntingly exquisite timing when she took her final bow on Christmas one year ago today.

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