Thursday, May 31, 2007

Catching some Z's -- 15 of them to be exact!

Man, I knocked this one out of the park. I not only broke my record for fastest Friday – shattered it in fact – I don’t think I’ve ever done a Thursday puzzle this fast. 9 minutes and 22 seconds – and that’s with my wife briefly breaking my concentration by asking me if I knew where the phone was just as I was rounding third. Please don’t point out that this was an exceptionally easy one, not just yet anyway. I’d rather revel in my perceived brilliance a bit longer.

Okay, let’s do the SPOILER WARNING: Don't read any further until you've done today's New York Sun Crossword Puzzle. New York Sun puzzles are every bit as fun and challenging as the more well-known New York Times, and they're indisputably better in one way -- they're free. You can download this puzzle and join in on the fun here.

I got off to a great start on this one. Actually I got off to a good start before I even got started because I had a feeling the title "Snoozefest" (by Alan Olschwang) probably referred to Z's, the comic strip symbol for snoring -- either that or it meant a boring puzzle, which seemed unlikely. I knew 1A: Manhattan music club whose awning had the acronym OMFUG on it (CBGB) Actually the original name of the club that gave rise to the birth of punk rock was called CBGB & OMFUG (which stood for Country, Bluegrass, Blues and Other Music For Uplifting Gormandizers.) When I was in high school I loved the Ramones and Patti Smith and Talking Heads and other bands that became famous at CBGB. But my friends all listened to Black Sabbath, Uriah Heep and other metal bands which I hated. But I’m glad now because it helped me to get 4D: Debut solo album by a former Black Sabbath member (BLIZZARD OF OZZ).

From there, and with only the second Z in place I was able to get 58A: 1965 Beatles song (DIZZY MISS LIZZIE) (Aren't you proud of me, Linda?) This is probably the most famous Beatles cover song since they didn't actually write it. An American named Larry Williams wrote it in 1958; He evidently had a knack for rhyming adjectives with peoples' names since he also wrote "Bony Moronie" (covered by John Lennon) and "Groovy Little Susie", a minor hit for Little Richard. The word nerd in me has always been bothered by the punctuation in this song's title. Since there is no implication that Miss Lizzie herself is dizzy, only that she makes the singer feel that way, it should be "Dizzy, Miss Lizzie" don't you think?

Man, there are a lot of other musical answers in this puzzle. Let's take a look at them before we get on with the parade of Z's,

25A: "Fernando group" (ABBA) (a gimme if ever there was one, why do they do clue obscure ELO song titles but use big hits for ABBA, didn't they have any B-Sides?)

62D: Show with Sanjaya Malakar
, familiarly (IDOL) "American Idol" is a cultural phenomenon I've chosen to sit out, so consequently I'd never heard of 64A: Chris Daughtry's label (RCA) Evidently he's the best-selling "American Idol" contestant who was neither the winner nor runner-up of their season (he came in fourth in 2006).

65A: Consonantless refrain (EIEIO)
(of Old McDonald and a lot of my Scrabble racks fame)

71A: Saloon singer Sylvia (SYMS)
Ms. Syms was discovered by none other than Mae West. It was Frank Sinatra who called her the "World's greatest saloon singer" high praise since saloon singer was he considered himself to be.

37D: Big ___ (Outkast rapper) (BOI)

17A: Parody of a 1983 #1 hit (EAT IT)
Weird Al Yankovic's tribute to Michael Jackson's "Beat It."

3D: Gillespie contemporary (GETZ)
That's Dizzy and Stan, by the way

and (stretching things just a bit) 9D: Steep-sided gully (ARROYO) if we're talking about singing Cincinatti Red pitcher Bronson Arroyo.

Back to the Z's. In addition to the afore-mentioned musical entries, there was:

20A: Crayola color (FUZZY WUZZY BROWN) You're going to have to get the big 64-crayon box if you want to color something in fuzzy-wuzzy brown. I couldn't find a picture of a fuzzy-wuzzy crayon, but I did find something I had mercifully forgotten, a traumatizing toy from my childhood, this soap that I remember now -- shudder! -- actually grew hair as you used it. That may be why I hated to take baths as a kid.

22D: Deceives, in slang (RAZZLE DAZZLES)

5A: Makes a sharp turn (ZIGS)

5D: Asian ox (ZEBU)

23A: Wye follower (ZEE) So that's how you spell "Y"!

31A: Caldwell and Baird (ZOES) If you've forgotten Zoe Baird, she was Bill Clinton's first nominee for attorney general. She withdrew from consideration when it was discovered she had employed illegal alien as chauffeurs and nannies.

33A: Japanese sports car line (NISSAN Z)

53A: Showerheads, e.g. (NOZZLES)

56A: Wood dresser (ADZ)

6D: Don Juan's mom (INEZ)

7D: Sheep, at times (GRAZERS)

50D: 1949-51 heavyweight boxing champ ____ Charles (EZZARD)

61D: It's an indeterminate form when raised to its own power (ZERO)

Whew, well, I think that's all of them. But I might have missed one or two Z's.

All this talk about Z's has made me sleepy. But i did want to mention a few other clues I found noteworthy.

16A: Gray Davis follower (REB) Yeah, I tried to get "Schwarzenegger" to fit in there too, but it doesn't refer to the erstwhile Governor of the Golden State. Gray refers to the Confederate Army color and Jefferson Davis was President of the CSA. My favorite clue for a three-word answer this month.

59A: Where Chang and Eng Bunker were born (SIAM) Where else would Siamese twins be born?

19A: Auto museum auto (REO). Since Oldsmobiles are defunct 40D: No-longer-made model could have used the same clue.

14A: Join a class (ENROL) This word never looks right to me. It looks like it lost a vital L.

69A: Long lunches (HEROS) When one sandwich has this many different names -- hero, sub, po' boy, grinders, et cetera -- it's easy to come up with misleading clues for them.

Have a great weekend.


Pete M said...

The most famous Beatles cover has to be "Twist and Shout", by a long shot.

Can it be long before SANJAYA becomes a fill word is his own right? :)

Norrin2 said...

You're probably right, but my favorite Beatles cover is "Act Naturally." Ringo singing a Buck Owens tune. It doesn't get any better than that.

Orange said...

Omigod, I remember the Fuzzy Wuzzy soap! We never could get him to be as hairy as promised.

I think crossworddom's most popular record labels are EMI and RCA. Does anyone actually pay attention to which label represents an artist? I don't.

Norrin2 said...

The last time I remember knowing what label an artist recorded for I was 8 years old and I knew the Monkees were on Colgems. This has never come up in a crossword puzzle that I can recall.
Don't look now, but there's a Fuzzy Wuzzy soap up for grabs on eBay right now.
Bidding starts at 69.99. In the description it says "SIGNS OF FUZZINESS WHICH IS NORMAL".

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