Thursday, June 21, 2007

Friday 6-22-07

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. If you'd like to read about an unbiased head-to-head competition between the Sun and the Times check this out. Or if you're ready to decide for yourself you can download this puzzle and join in on the fun here

There are some good things about getting older -- wisdom, serenity and a chance at obscure 70's TV show clues that young whippersnappers don't have a chance at. I couldn't get started on this Weekend Warrior by Karen M. Tracy at 1A or 1D like I like to. I couldn't get started at all -- not until I got to the last down 60D: "____ Ramsey" I knew that one, by HEC. And I'll tell you why. When I was growing up there was only one television in the house, one television with only three channels. And Dad was in absolute control of it. So even though I was a romantic comedy-variety show guy, I had to watch westerns and cop shows, cuz that's what my Dad liked. (Well, I didn't have to, I could go read a book, and I usually chose to do that rather than watch "The High Chapparal" or "Cannon") "Hec Ramsey" starred Richard Boone, who is probably best known for "Have Gun, Will Travel" as a former gunfighter now the sheriff in a turn of the twentieth century Oklahoma town, coming to grips with new technology. It only lasted two years and it wasn't even a weekly show. It was part of an experiment where they had four different shows that rotated in and out of that time slot. "Columbo" was one of them, and so was Dennis Weaver's "McCloud." the only one I liked was "McMillan and Wife" with Rock Hudson and Suzanne Pleshette, kind of a romantic comedy with lighthearted-mystery plots. Dad hated it, so I rarely got to see it.

With the C in Hec I was able to get the ultimate across clue 64A: Walkman insert (CASSETTE) and I think it's only because of my boomer status that I knew that. You kids don't remember when Walkmans (Walkmen?) played cassettes, do you? Hell, you probably don't remember walkmans. 56D: Not much (A BIT) 57D: Penitent period (LENT) and 58D: Rim (EDGE) were easy to build off of CASSETTE and then I got 62A: Like some markets (EMERGING) and 60A: Space-saver in a studio (HIDE-A-BED) and I was off and running -- or so I thought. Things would slow up considerably before I finished the puzzle -- and one word, I'll just confess right here, I had to cheat to get. My fault, I fell in love with the wrong answer and refused to let go even though things were obviously not going to work out between us.

After polishing off the Southeast portion of the puzzle, I skipped around a bit, filling in stuff here and there. I knew 61A: "A person's a person, no matter how small" speaker (HORTON) because "Horton Hears a Who" is one of my favorite books by one of my favorite writers -- Dr. Seuss. For my money, "Horton Hatches the Egg" is Seuss's greatest masterpiece -- pretty much all you need to know to live a good life is in those pages -- but ". . Hears a Who" is magnificent too. And I got 26D: Place in the title of Bruce Springsteen's debut album (ASBURY PARK) because his album "Born to Run" changed my life and I had to track down his earlier records -- "Greetings From Asbury Park, New Jersey" and "The Wild, The Innocent and The E Street Shuffle". They were good, but not as good as "Born to Run." I got 17A: National Institutes of Health headquarters (BETHESDA) because I went to the Small Press Expo there a couple years ago, and evidently Bethesda doesn't have much going on, because every traffic sign directed you to NIH facilities.

The rest of the puzzle proved more difficult, but I was able to piece it together. 52D: Real (ECHT) was not a word I was familiar with. And 12D: Squidlike mollusk (CUTTLEFISH) was tough because the only cuttle I've ever heard of was not a fish but a bone for parakeets to peck on.
Hey, you don't suppose that's where cuttle bone comes from, do you? (I just learned that's exactly where cuttle bone comes from and they're also used (or were used at one time in toothpastes, antacids and in jewelry-making as well as seeing that Tweety gets her calcium.) Grown cuttlefish are ugly by the way, but aren't they cute when they're little babies?

I appreciated 27A: Takes stock (RUSTLES) and 50A: "Good enough" (IT'LL DO). I've never seen the show in question, so I had to piece together ADDISON at 41D: Derek's ex-wife on "Grey's Anatomy". I knew 8D: Inits in 1974 news (SLA) (which stood for Symbionese Liberation Army, the group that kidnapped and brainwashed heiress Patty Hearst) because in 1974 I had not yet given up on the news. I'm not even sure how I knew 21A: Powerful pieces in ajedrez (REINAS) but I pulled it out from somewhere. Ajedrez is chess, by the way, and the reina is the queen.

And still the Northwest portion kept kicking my ass. What word did I have to cheat to get? 15A: Forecasting tool (EXIT POLL) It's a great clue and I'm embarrassed that I had to resort to such measures but I just did not know the intersecting 6D: Bridge that connects Brooklyn and Queen (KOSCIUSZKO) or 5D: Present-day tennis (OPEN ERA) (I completely misunderstood the clue and was trying to think of a game that tennis might have evolved from. But my biggest problem was that I could not mentally let go of Tarzan. I was sure that 2D: Forest swingers was APES and not AXES.

That's all I have for today. Let's do it again on Monday, when maybe I won't have to resort to cheating.


mellocat said...

Heh...HEC was not in my initial submission for this grid, so it's funny that was your only toehold. Peter Gordon thought the lower right I sent in was a bit dull and revised that corner, which introduced HEC. Me, I'd never seen that show, though I have seen the answer in other crosswords.

I too put in APES for forest swingers, but having some memory of what was supposed to be in that corner I was able to fix it quickly. Great clue, that was Peter's doing too.

Norrin2 said...

Because I refused to let go of APES and didn't know 5 or 6 down, I had EPIT_ _ LL -- actually before I got 1 Down, I had _PIT_ _LL and wondered how a spitball could be a "forecasting tool."

Linda G said...

Finally did this on Sunday morning. Better late than never?

Spitball for a forecasting tool? I stubbornly hung on to APES, so had EPIT POLL...until I read this. I knew it made no sense, but I was ready to give up.

I pretty much nailed the SE quadrant, but struggled with most of the rest. Did know RASTAS (as a college student in my late forties, I met several), as well as HORTON and HEC...but not much else.

Norrin2 said...

I think the only thing a spitball could forecast is the fact that you're about to be thrown out of the ballgame or the classroom, depending on whether you're a pitcher or a pupil.