TUESDAY, Jul. 7 2009 — Tennyson title hero * Arden / Region of pre-Roman Italy / Slave entombed with Radames / Star of changing brightness
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Constructor: Lynn Lempel
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: Late Arrivals — famous people whose last names represent periods of time are clued as "late-arriving," and are represented in the grid as having last names that are one step "later" than their actual names
Word of the Day: ETRURIA (56A: Region of pre-Roman Italy) — An ancient country of west-central Italy in present-day Tuscany and parts of Umbria. It was the center of the Etruscan civilization, which spread throughout much of Italy before being supplanted by Rome in the third century B.C. (answers.com)
This was shaping up to be a very cool puzzle. An original and amusing concept, with different periods of time represented in each theme answer. But. But. SATURDAY is a discrete period of time. One of seven. What comes before Saturday? Friday. APRIL is a discrete period of time. One of twelve. What comes before April? March. AUTUMN is a discrete period of time. One of four. What comes before Autumn? Summer. EVENING ... EVENING ... EVENING is at best a vaguely defined period of the day. Here's a question. When does EVENING start? I know when SATURDAY starts. Same with APRIL and AUTUMN. And what comes before EVENING? Well, AFTERNOON, right? And before that, MORNING? Or ... is it DUSK? MIDDAY? In short, DORIS EVENING is disastrously out of place here — which is sad, because the rest of the puzzle is vintage, solid, joyful, early-week Lynn Lempel.
- 17A: Late-arriving TV detective? (Joe SATURDAY) — from Joe Friday, character on "Dragnet"
- 28A: Late-arriving actor of old? (Frederic APRIL) — from Frederic March, Oscar- and Tony-winning actor
- 44A: Late-arriving singer/actress of old? (Doris EVENING) — from Doris Day, icon and legend (see "Pillow Talk" with Rock Hudson and Tony Randall)
- 59A: Late-arriving disco singer? (Donna AUTUMN) — from Donna Summer, who sang "Last Dance" and "She Works Hard for the Money," among many other songs.
At least the DORIS EVENING answer brought some hilarity into my life last night. I finished puzzle in good time. As I was marking up the puzzle for my write-up, my wife finished and she said "I didn't know two of the theme answer people" to which I replied "well, Frederic March is a famous actor, I've heard of him, but ... who is this Doris person? Is there some olde-timey actress called DORIS AFTERNOON? DORIS MORNING?" Wife: "Doris NOON." Me: "I have no idea. Those all sound wrong." So I went to Google some of these names, with no results, then just googled [Doris actress] and there was the very very familiar DORIS DAY staring me in the face. Why is she clued "of old" when Joe Saturday is not. She is still alive, which is more than I can say for Friday. I was imagining some obscure or long-ago famous silents actress like Mabel Normand or Nita Naldi or one of the many, many such names I've had to remember for crosswords. But no. It's just Doris DAY. HA ha. Still finished puzzle quickly and accurately, but ... yikes, good thing I didn't have to show my work.
- 10A: Panty raid prize (bra) — wife: "shouldn't this be 'panty?'" me: "you take all kinds of underwear, I guess ... but why is 'panty' singular? You can't take just one 'panty' ... is there such thing as a single 'panty?'" "Panty" speculation went on from there.
- 16A: It might make a ewe turn (ram) — my daughter would love this kind of joke. Punny!
- 41A: Harrison of "My Fair Lady" (Rex) — I prefer this clue to the film critic or generic dog name. REX Morgan, M.D. is the ideal clue, I think.
- 2D: Tennyson title hero _____ Arden (Enoch) — abso@#$#inglutely no idea. ENOCH is in the Old Testament somewhere. That is what I know about ENOCH.
- 7D: Source of a hippie's high (LSD) — this seems ... well, accurate enough, in some contexts, but odd. Lots of different kinds of people drop acid. I didn't know any hippies in high school or college, but I knew some people who took LSD. And most of the people I knew who looked like / acted like "hippies" just smoked pot.
- 10D: "A little dab'll do ya" brand (Bryl Creem) — just looking at the spelling of this answer makes me feel like I'm on LSD ("It's sending me a secret message, man").
- 25D: Monster defeated by Beowulf (Grendel) — great answer, right in the middle.
- 26D: Slave entombed with Radames (Aida) — July is AIDA month in puzzle world, apparently.
- 32D: Jock's counterpart (nerd) — I ... guess. Homer certainly thinks so when he returns to college.
- 34D: Government's gift to I.R.S. filers (tax relief) — it's the government, not Santa.
- 39D: Star of changing brightness (Nova) — I've started watching "NOVA Science Now" with astrophysicist and frequent Colbert Report guest Neal Degrasse Tyson. It seems aimed at kids, in some ways, but that's about how smart I am, science-wise.
- 42D: Manners (Ps and Qs) — had odd experience of filling in this answer w/o ever looking at the clue. Had "DQS" at the end and just knew what it was. Coming at it from other end might have proved more challenging.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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