Sicilian resort city — WEDNESDAY, Sep. 2 2009 — Anne of HBO's "Hung" / Contents of hoedown seat / Available as London limo
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Constructor: Jim Hyres
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: Midtown Manhattan Map — grid depicts Broadway (spelled out by circled letters) "crossing" 5th through 8th Avenues
Word of the Day: SCHAEFER (18A: "The one beer to drink when you're having more than one" sloganeer) — Schaefer Beer is a brand of beer from the United States.
Schaefer was, at one point during the first half of the 20th century, the world's best selling beer. By the 1970s, however, it had ceded the top spot to Budweiser. [...] A popular advertising campaign for Schaefer was the tagline, "Schaefer is the one beer to have when you're having more than one." This was put to music and used as a jingle from the 1950s-70s. The music was written by Jim Jordan of BBDO, on his son's xylophone. Louis Armstrong once performed the jingle in a television advertisement campaign. Music composer Edd Kalehoff also appeared in a 1973 advertisement showing off his Moog synthesizer.-----
I'm sitting here wondering how I've never heard of a beer that used to be "the world's best selling beer." From the world's best-selling beer in the 60s to completely off-cultural-radar by the mid-70s. Talk about dying a hard and fast death. This beer registers a big zero in my consciousness, and I've been seeing / watching beer ads since the mid-70s. Pabst Blue Ribbon and Schlitz malt liquor and Hamm's and "Tonight let it be Lowenbrau" and all that ... no SCHAEFER. The slogan is so goofy (might as well read "Ask for SCHAEFER — the beer alcoholics prefer!") that I thought for a few moments that the beer might be fictional. I'm not complaining about the answer at all — just marveling at how fast a brand can go from everywhere to nowhere on a dime like that.
A very creative puzzle today, even if BROADWAY doesn't actually "cross" EIGHTH or FIFTH in this grid. What's nice about the circled squares is BROADWAY actually does hit EIGHTH at a "circle" — Columbus Circle. I also like the snakiness of BROADWAY in the grid, which does a good job of mimicking the actual path BROADWAY takes across Midtown. Compromise fill — a common byproduct of fancy themes like this — is present but not excessively so. ASASON is at the top of my "To Go" pile (60A: How a particularly close nephew may be treated) — it's about as legit as IN A BAG or TO A PARTY or WITH SOME CAKE. The RE-twins aren't much prettier. REOPEN is a great word (22A: Come back following renovations, say), but the far uglier REWOVE (19A: Fixed, as a tapestry) is wearing the same RE-dress and standing far too close to REOPEN, compromising her splendor. Finally, I'm not an ADORER of ADORER (17A: Rabid fan). Else, good.
- 9D: Superfluous person (FIFTH wheel)
- 24D: Intuition (SIXTH sense) — also known as "Avenue of the Americas sense"
- 13D: Like some Adventists (SEVENTH Day) — there are other kinds of "Adventists?"
- 27D: Quaver (EIGHTH note) — hardest of the themes, for me. I learned this meaning of "quaver" from xwords, so I eventually pulled it out.
I sailed through this until the SW, where I came to a dead stop at CHO-S-E- (58A: Stir-fried entree). That looked like Nothing to me. Plus, I don't think I've ever had CHOP SUEY (it's some Americanized noodle thing, right?). Anyway, all three crosses were screwy for me. I had the wrong meaning of [Ticked off] in my head for 42D (was thinking about marking items on a checklist, for some reason) but was wondering about the legality/plausibility of ANNOTED (ended up being ANNOYED). I wanted SPAT where SUIT was supposed to go (53D: Dressy attire for a man), and then I misread the clue at 46D: Certain filers as [Certain fliers]. When I ended up with RASPS, I thought maybe the answer was WASPS and TETRAD (45A: Foursome) was wrong. Bah. Anyway, I think I spent half my time in this corner and still ended up with a good Wednesday time.
- 1A: Source of the music for a 2001 theatrical hit (ABBA) — a really oblique way to come at ABBA ... and yet I got it no problem.
- 49A: Contents of a hoedown seat (hay) — "Contents" sounds weird here. The seat is made of HAY. It is HAY. I mean, there's twine involved, I guess. Maybe the whole clue is designed not to use the giveaway word "bale."
- 54A: Available, as a London limo (on hire) — Did the UK rename the American 80s crime drama to "Spenser: On Hire"?
- 16D: Anne of HBO's "Hung" (Heche) — this is about a man with a big penis who becomes a male prostitute when he falls on hard (!) times. 9 episodes have aired to date. I know this only from reading the shows Wikipedia page.
- 28D: Dog doc (vet) — ours told us yesterday that our chocolate lab tested very positive of Lyme's (despite being on flea/tick meds, !@#@@!@%) and so now she has to take copious antibiotics for a month. Every day this dog is inventing new ways of getting sick / trying to bankrupt us. Her sister, on the other hand, is unbreakable. Even pitbull maulings can't keep her down for long.
- 44D: Lady Lindy (Earhart) — she is a featured character in the Vertigo comic book "Air," which I read.
- 57D: Sicilian resort city (Enna) — I wonder how many people put in ETNA and then wondered why anyone would want to treat his nephew AS A SOT.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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