Longtime battler of Mongols / FRI 4-9-10 / Heavenly neighbor of Scutum / Flimflam's antithesis / Lyricist Dubin / Floating brown algae
Friday, April 9, 2010
Al Dubin (June 10, 1891 - February 11, 1945) was a Jewish-American Swiss-born lyricist. He was born in Zurich, Switzerland and died in New York City. [...] He is perhaps most famous for the 1933 musical film 42nd Street to the music of Harry Warren. Other famous movies included Footlight Parade and all five Gold Diggers films. Together, Warren and Dubin wrote 60 hit songs for Warner Brothers. In 1980 producer David Merrick and director Gower Champion adapted 42nd Street into a Broadway musical that won The Tony Award for Best Musical for 1981. (wikipedia)
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Wow, talk about getting the day of the week wrong. This came in as a hard Saturday for me, and the second-hardest Friday of the year (after my Jan. 1 debacle). Initial times at the NYT site are stratospheric. I have no idea how multiple test-solvers said, "yeah, this is a Friday." It's not. Annoying. The grid itself is fine, though the clues seemed a bit dull and the general tenor of the puzzle felt staid and old-fashioned — except AS IF I CARE, which is a very nice, fresh answer (32D: "Whatever"). Worst quadrant for me was the NW, where, despite a great initial guess of J.S. BACH at 1D: "Original father of harmony," per Beethoven, briefly, I couldn't get any of the Acrosses. At All. Forever. BUCK ROGERS battled Mongols? (17A: Longtime battler of the Mongols)? ... JASMINE TEA is a "refresher"? (1A: Flower-scented refresher) ... I had no idea how to come up with an opposite of "flimflam" (15A: Flimflam's antithesis => SQUARE DEAL) as I didn't know if the word referred to the type of talk or the talker or what. AQUILA? (2D: Heavenly neighbor of Scutum) — No idea, so "Q" stayed hidden til bitter end. EDGAR Guest is ... a person? A writer, maybe? Pfft. No idea. A MASS can simply be EARLY? That feels completely bogus. I had MASS early, but I did not have EARLY MASS til late (9D: What a priest may say shortly after waking up). Lyricist Dubin? No way. And on and on. Total fail — except that I did manage to finish. Just took forever.
No time for extended write-up, as I gotta get up super early tomorrow. So — straight to hi/lowlights.
- 19A: It flows through Knottingley (AIRE) — that is a suffix for "billion," not a river. Ugh. I had AVON. More Geography Fail — ARTOIS (25D: Historical region on the Strait of Dover). I have heard of Stella ARTOIS, the beer-maker. That's the only ARTOIS I know.
- 31A: World leader whose full name included Abdel twice (ARAFAT) — no idea. Had NASSAR (!?), which isn't even spelled right, I don't think.
- 58A: Locale of the radial notch (ULNA) — Nope, nothing.
- 20A: Chicago Sting's org. (NASL) — North American Soccer League. Defunct. I considered WNBA.
- 3D: Former Ecuadorean money (SUCRES) — I know SUCRE as a capital, but as coinage, no. Maybe I've heard of it, but ... no. Ditto GOURDE (46D: 100 centimes).
- 14D: Floating brown algae (SARGASSO) — would have been stumped but had the SAR- before I ever saw the clue and guessed it (solely from knowing the title "The Wide SARGASSO Sea").
- 34D: Something that's the most luxurious of its kind (CADILLAC) — this would have been good had it not been for the "most." CADILLAC = luxuriousness, but not superlative luxuriousness. That's why there are "CADILLAC health insurance plans." "Plans," plural. They can't all be "most luxurious."
- 35D: Capital on Gulf St. Vincent (ADELAIDE) — noooo idea. Is this in Australia? I thought CANBERRA was the capital of Australia. Ah, it's the capital of the *state* of South Australia. Are Australians required to know Carson City in order to solve their crosswords? I hope so. That will make me happier.
- 42D: He wrote "I will show you fear in a handful of dust" (T.S. ELIOT) — sounded familiar but couldn't place it. Needed many crosses. Came across this T.S. ELIOT letter to his young nephew (via some Twitter feed I follow — NY Mag's "Culture Vulture" blog, probably). Anyway, it's pretty adorable.
- 55D: Phenomena after retiring (R.E.M.s) — hate this in the plural.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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