Lost category - FRIDAY, May 29 2009 - R Ross (Introducer of 45's in '49 / Derby dry-goods dealer / Finnish pentathlete Lehtonen / Adidas alternative)
Friday, May 29, 2009
Relative difficulty: Medium
Word of the Day: Herb CAEN (26D: Columnist who wrote "Don't Call It Frisco," 1953) - Herbert Eugene Caen (April 3, 1916 – February 1, 1997) was a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist working in San Francisco. Born in Sacramento, California, Caen worked for the San Francisco Chronicle from the late 1930s until his death, with an interruption from 1950 to 1958 during which he wrote for the San Francisco Examiner. His collection of essays titled Baghdad-by-the-Bay was published in 1949 and in 1953 he published the book "Don't Call It Frisco" after a 1918 Examiner news item of the same name. Caen died of lung cancer in San Francisco and his funeral was one of the best-attended events in recent city history.
He also coined the term "beatnik" and popularized the term "hippie" during the 1967 "Summer of Love" (wikipedia)
A pretty straightforward Friday puzzle, though I finished with an error - and if I'm the only one with this error, I'm going to be surprised. I had ASPERTAME / TEV, not the correct ASPARTAME / TAV. I have never seen "TAV" in a puzzle [whoops, I'm wrong - see here]. Ever. TOV, yes. TAV, no. I had TEV, which sounded adequately Hebraic to me. I don't eat / drink anything with ARTIFICIAL sweeteners (except maybe gum, sometimes), so ASPARTAME (16A: Equal, essentially - good clue) is not something I think about a lot. "E" seemed as good as "A" there. ASPERA has Latin going for it, though guess you wouldn't use the Latin word for "difficulties" as the root of your name, if you were thinking. Anyway, failure. Boo hoo.
Could do nothing with the NW at first - threw down TETE (5D: Head of Notre Dame) and then A FLAT (17A: G neighbor) and then nothing. By the way, speaking of TETE - there were far too many (two too many, in fact) of these tricksy "it's a foreign word for ..." clues. First TETE, then TAV (9D: Torah's beginning - my first answer there was TEE), then CENTRE (26A: Middle of the British Isles?). All right at the top of the puzzle. Yuck. OK, moving on. I bailed on the NW and went to the NE, where I wrote down TEE (yay), then WARM (yay - real answer = ETCH, 11D: Prepare a plate, perhaps), then I was saved by NATE / THE GREAT (12D: With 20-Down, kiddie-lit counterpart of Sherlock Holmes). Yesterday, Magilla Gorilla, today, NATE THE GREAT. NATE gave me THE GO (21A: What busy people are on) and from there, things took off.
I don't watch (in fact, refuse to watch) "Lost," and today I (briefly) paid the price for that, as PAST TENSE made no sense to me (6A: "Lost" category). The last time I caved in and started watching some culty, nerdy, "you gotta watch it!" show, I wound up watching "Heroes." Oh to have those hours back. [OK, correction ... apparently the clue refers simply to the fact that the word "Lost" is in the PAST TENSE - if indeed this clue has zero to do with the TV show "Lost," then the cheapness of this clue - and the quotation marks in particular - will some day be legendary] Staying in the NE for a bit, loved the clue on RCA VICTOR (18A: Introducer of 45's in '49), not so fond of SPARERS (8D: They let people off). After finishing that quadrant, I tried to get back into the NW, but it was having none of me. Got DOG'S AGE (31A: Long while) and ATTUNES (37A: Gets in sync) to go across, but with just three widely spaced out letters in place, the long Downs all still refused to fall. The key here was RED LETTER (19A: Memorable). I stared at ----ETTER for what felt like a long time before that term came to me. Once RED LETTER went down, all the Downs went down.
Today's odd couple: LIN-Manuel Miranda (25A: "In the Heights" Tony winner _____-Manuel Miranda) and EERO Lehtonen (14D: Finnish pentathlete Lehtonen). Never heard of these folks. The Tony Awards no longer mean anything to anyone outside of the island of Manhattan. I'd appreciate it if we could stop acting as if anyone who wins a Tony is fair game.
Once I got out of the NW, the rest was pretty easy. Had a little trouble backing easily into the SW, but PENN took care of that (47D: State-founding Friend), and the SE was, in general, supremely easy compared to the rest of the puzzle.
- 15A: Online message (e-note) - e-not. Please strive to keep all e-answers that aren't e-mail out of your puzzles, thanks. How is an E-NOTE different from an E-MAIL??? I like E-LOAN better than I like E-NOTE (that's for BEQ)
- 33A: Allied landing site of September 1943 (Salerno) - got it off of SAL-, and it opened the whole SE right up.
- 35A: Derby dry-goods dealer (draper) - news to me. Does he sell drapes specifically, or ...?
- 39A: Kennel clamor (woofing) - daughter calls our chocolab "woofie," so this answer amuses me.
- 41A: Charcoal wood sources (alders) - again, news to me. I know that the ALDER is a tree, and that is all I know about the ALDER.
- 43A: Backwoods pro? (fer) - fantastic clue. "I ain't FER it, I'm agin it!" - Abraham Simpson
- 50A: Producers of some bold words (typefaces) - OK, I guess. Something weird to me about the typeface "producing" the words. Maybe too literal.
- 58D: Where some sunflowers were painted (Arles) - easy. Van Gogh. ARLES is a not-uncommon place name in xwords.
- 3D: Sir Francis Drake discovery of 1579 (Golden Gate) - me: "But ... that bridge was built in the 20th century ..."
- 10D: Singer of the #1 country hit "Foolish Pride" (Tritt) - no good versions on youtube, so ... I'll just dip into the 80s vault here. First, a completely different "Foolish Pride" (1986):
and now, here's "Foolish Heart," just ... 'cause (1984):
- 49D: The Ilek is one of its tributaries (Ural) - ouch, lower case "L"s and upper case "I"s are indistinguishable in Across Lite printouts, especially right next to each other, making this river's name look like ... well, a razor brand, frankly.
- 51D: Adidas alternative (Fila)
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld