WEDNESDAY, Nov. 25 2009 — Crooner canned on live TV in 1953 / Boy soprano in Menotti opera / Gernreich of fashion / North Carolina gridders
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Constructor: Allan E. Parrish
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: "I'm beat!" — five theme answers end in words related to losing energy, strength, or vigor ...
Word of the Day: RUDI Gernreich (3D: Gernreich of fashion) —
Rudi Gernreich (August 8, 1922–April 21, 1985) was a fashion designer and gay activist. Born in Vienna, he fled Austria at age 16 due to Nazism. He came to the U.S., settling in Los Angeles, California. a dancer, performing with the Lester Horton company around 1945.
He moved into fashion design via fabric design, and then worked closely with model Peggy Moffitt and photographer William Claxton, pushing the boundaries of "the futuristic look" in clothing over three decades. An exhibition of his work at the Phoenix Art Museum in 2003 hailed him as "one of the most original, prophetic and controversial American designers of the 1950s, '60s and '70s." [...] He is perhaps most notorious for inventing the first topless swimsuit, or monokini, as well as the pubikini (a bikini with a window in front to reveal the woman's pubic hair) and later the thong swimsuit. He was also a strong advocate of unisex clothing, dressing male and female models in identical clothing and shaving their heads and bodies completely bald. He was also known as the first designer to use vinyl and plastic in clothes, and he designed the Moonbase Alpha uniforms on the television series Space: 1999.
Finished this one very quickly and couldn't see any theme. Stared at it for several seconds and still couldn't see any theme. For some reason, visually, the theme answers don't stand out as theme answers very strongly. I was thinking HOTLINE (22A: Red telephone's connection), ELEPHANT (34A: Political symbol), and ASBESTOS (42A: Litigation-prompting insulation) might all be involved somehow (can anyone build a theme around those answers? Challenge!). Then I started trying the first / last word test with the longest answers. RADIAL and SHOWER have nothing to do with each other, but TIRE and DRAIN sure do. It's an interesting theme, with one little wonky feature: FLAG is an intransitive verb. All the others are transitive (exc. TIRE, which can be both). So technically the words don't (can't) all mean the same thing. But they are in the same arena of meaning, which is probably good enough.
- 17A: Goodyear offering (radial TIRE)
- 10D: Feature of many muscle cars (dual EXHAUST)
- 25D: Syrup source (tree SAP)
- 24D: Where lost hair may accumulate (shower DRAIN)
- 61A: Blackbeard flew one (pirate FLAG)
This was possibly the easiest Wednesday puzzle I've done all year. Played like a toughish Tuesday, and took me only a few seconds longer than yesterday's puzzle. This despite not knowing (or remembering) RUDI Gernreich and taking forever to recall who the hell that guy was who got fired on national TV — I featured a video about his firing by Arthur Godfrey in a prior post, and yet still couldn't remember his name: LA ROSA (32A: Crooner canned on live TV in 1953). Bah! Anyway, LA ROSA's firing was an important moment in American pop culture. Here, I'll just post that same video again, in case you missed it the first time.
- 1A: Catalog clothing retailer since 1983 (J. Crew) — gimme, right off the bat.
- 6A: Suffragist Carrie Chapman _____ (Catt) — or "3C," as she was known on the street.
- 27A: Boy soprano in a Menotti opera (Amahl) — Having (crosswordese) AMAH and (crosswordese) AMAHL in the same grid is a little ugly. But I like the boy singer (AMAHL) over the boy singer (LA ROSA) here...
- 54A: Mountain previously named Peak XV (Everest) — news to me. Had most of the answers before I ever saw the clue.
- 64A: One of American banking's Big Four, for short (Citi) — no love for them at the moment ...
- 68A: Hippie's cross (ankh) — "Hippie??" I think of this as "that shape that feminist women are getting tattooed on themselves in the '90s for some reason." It's got mother goddess (Isis) and pagan associations.
- 8D: North Carolina gridders (Tarheels) — love the answer, but it's not just the "gridders." ALL UNC athletes are TARHEELS — they're the reigning Men's NCAA basketball champions.
- 51D: Spreader of dirt (yenta) — nice misdirective clue.
Please come back later in the day (say, noonish) when I will be releasing a special puzzle in honor of a certain birthday (not mine! That's tomorrow)
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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