Cicero's servant secretary / FRI 8-5-11 / Move Your Mind sloganeer / What girl lead-in Eddie Cantor / King surnamed Tryggvason
Friday, August 5, 2011
Marcus Tullius Tiro (d. ca. 4 BC?) was first a slave, then a freedman of Cicero. [...] He is believed to have collected and published Cicero's work after his death, and, it seems, was a writer himself: several ancient writers refer to works of Tiro, now lost. Aulus Gellius says, " [he] wrote several books on the usage and theory of the Latin language and on miscellaneous questions of various kinds," and quotes him on the difference between Greek and Latin names for certain stars. Asconius Pedianus, in his commentaries on Cicero's speeches, refers to a biography of Cicero by Tiro in at least four books, and Plutarch refers to him as a source for two incidents in Cicero's life. He is credited with inventing the shorthand system of Tironian notes later used by monks among others. There is no clear evidence that he did, although Plutarch credits Cicero's clerks as the first Romans to record speeches in shorthand. (wikipedia)
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Today through Sunday, write-ups will be quite a bit shorter than usual because of my trip to NYC to attend Lollapuzzoola 4: Crosswords Take Manhattan. (You can just show up and register at the door, or you can solve the puzzles at home; click through for info) As I've said many times, it's a really entertaining crossword tournament for all kinds of solvers (certainly if you are reading this write-up, you are skilled enough to participate), and you should go if you're in the area on Saturday. At any rate, I haven't even packed and I leave the house in, oh, 8 hours, which sounds like a long time, but I have to pack and sleep and eat breakfast in that window. Pretty tight. And I've already wasted several hundred words telling you this. Good thing I type quickly.
This was pretty damned hard, partly because of insane answers like TIRO and SENARY (!?), but mostly because of typical Silk clues, i.e. deliberately tricky stuff that really requires you to think through multiple possibilities. Took me about as long as a typical Saturday takes me. Worst part was in the vicinity of YARD (30D: Half a fathom), mostly because I'd committed to WAISTBAND at 38A: Hospital gown go-with, and so ended up with YAAD. Whole SW corner took me a while to get into. Trouble started right away with THE PENTAGON instead of FORT MCHENRY (1A: Historic U.S. place in the shape of a five-pointed star). Can't believe I walked into that trap so easily, though, to my credit, I could tell right away that something was wrong. Real trouble with -STAN, for some reason (39D: Persian for "place of"). Had an "oh, of course, you idiot!" moment when I got that one. "OH OH OH" sounds like Horshack from "Welcome Back, Kotter." No idea who Eddie Cantor is, let alone what "hit" he had — turns out, it's "If You Knew Susie." Alrighty, then (48D: "What a girl" lead-in, in an Eddie Cantor hit).
Best answer in the grid, by a mile, is NO-TELL MOTEL (17A: Tryst spot). Absolutely love it. Seems somehow appropriate that it crosses RAT FINK, if only because of the colloquialness (3D: Canary). The rest is quite solid, with only SENARY really making me groan.
- 23A: Newbery Medal-winning author Lowry (LOIS) — Not familiar. My favorite LOIS is Peter's wife on "Family Guy." And Lane, I guess.
- 36A: First #1 Billboard hit by an Australian artist (1972) ("I AM WOMAN") — really thought the answer would be something by Olivia Newton-John, but no. It's Helen Reddy's signature song. My mom certainly listened to this. A lot.
- 56A: Eponymous Greek island (LESBOS) — "Eponymous" doesn't tell you much. This took some effort.
- 11D: Whites' counterparts (YOLKS) — aargh. OK, yes, I guess that works. "Counterparts" is a stretch, but a valid one.
- 24D: Frequent catch on TV's "Deadliest Catch" (SNOW CRAB) — stupidly, had the SNOW and couldn't think of any fish that fit. And now I know why.
- 45D: Old-fashioned film editor (SPLICER) — So ... a film editor. Is film not spliced anymore. I know digital movies aren't edited that way, but film is still that stuff on reels, right?
- 54D: King surnamed Tryggvason (OLAF I) — figured out OLA- part, then there was the F/V question, then there was the Roman numeral question.
- 32A: Old pulp fiction hero (G-MAN) — really thought it would be a specific name, like The Shadow or The Phantom.