Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Much Ado About Nothing

Everywhere else love makes the world go around; love is all you need; love is a many-splendored thing; love is patient, love is kind; love is higher than a mountain, love is thicker than water; love is like oxygen, you get too much you get too high, not enough and you're gonna die; love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence.
But in crosswords, as in tennis, love is nothing -- bupkus, diddly-squat.

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'd rather decide for yourself you can download this puzzle and join in on the fun here

"Lots of Love" is by Anthony J. Salvia, and he has crammed three and four letter synonyms for nothing in this grid. Some people call this type of puzzle a rebus, but to me a rebus is a picture puzzle -- perhaps the most famous example being the old TV show Concentration -- and it only works in crosswords when the word or series of letters is something that can be drawn instead of written out -- like k-e-y or h-a-n-d. It won't work here; if you put a big 0 in each of those spots you won't get any real words, so it's not a rebus puzzle, it's a "cram-a-bunch-of-letters-into-one-box" puzzle.

3D: Capital on Luzon (MANILA) and 17A: Group with the hit album "The Beat Goes On" (VANILLA FUDGE) I have to call a foul on that second clue. Vanilla Fudge was a psychedelic band from the late 60s. Their only hit was a trippy cover of Diana Ross and the Supremes' "You Keep Me Hanging On." That song was not on their second album "The Beat Goes On," which really didn't have any songs on it -- there were recordings of Thomas Edison speaking and Winston Churchill and FDR, there were pieces of songs from Cole Porter, the Beatles and Mozart and Beethoven and there was a lot of noise that wouldn't have sounded pleasant even if you were tripping on the best LSD ever. The album was a mess and probably sunk the band's chances of making it big after their first album showed some promise. Unlike their other albums of the same period this one was never released on CD. To call it a "hit" album is grossly inaccurate.

10A: Hefty competitor (ZIPLOC) (Before I grasped the theme I had the L in place and I penciled in GLAD) and 10D: It won the 1947 Oscar for Best Song (ZIP-A-DEE-DOO-DAH) "Song of the South" may be the only Oscar winner that's never been released on video or DVD in the US. This film, Disney's first with live actors, is all about Joel Chandler Harris's Uncle Remus stories, and the reason Disney won't release it is because they fear it would be perceived as racially insensitive. It's been probably 40 years since I saw it, and I would love to see it again. Not much chance of that, I don't think, since it recently wound up as number five on a list of most controversial movies of all time. Meanwhile, "Sanford and Son" endlessly reruns.

24D: Location of the 1967 World's Fair (MONTREAL CANADA) and 67A: Its capital is St. George (GRENADA) Salvia loses a few style points here for having both of the "nada" entries be geographical and have the crammed letters in the last box.

61A: 1960 World Series hero (BILL MAZEROSKI) and 63D: Converge (on) (ZERO IN). And in thrilling come-from-behind fashion Salvia regains the points he lost. He does this by reminding me of a time when the New York Yankees got their asses handed to them. Bill Mazeroski will always be venerated by Yankee haters for his walk-off homer to win the '60 series.

Other entries of interest:

46A: Bolt with no threads (STREAK) I just love this way of describing a fad that was very popular when i was in high school.

23D: They might get swung at if they go through the strike zone (SCABS) A double pun seemingly about baseball but actually about labor relations. A great clue.

56D: Sommer of "The Oscar" (ELKE) It should be noted that Ms. Sommer doesn't have any Academy Awards, but she starred in a 1966 film about the award ceremony.

47D: Soldier's knapsack (KIT BAG) I mentioned the other day how corny my sense of humor is, to prove it I submit this joke from a 1920's college humor magazine that I've cherished for years

We want to know if a sleeping bag is the same thing as a knapsack.

22A: Like Scrooge McDuck (MISERLY) Donald Duck's uncle (created by Carl Barks) may be a miser, but he's one of the great misers of all time. His fortune stands at five multiplujillion, nine impossibidillion, seven fantasticatrillion dollars and sixteen cents. And unlike most misers, Scrooge knows how to have fun. He likes to burrow through his money like a gopher, and dive in it like a porpoise, and toss some of it up in the air and let it fall back on his head.


Rex Parker said...

It's a rebus puzzle. Put a "0" in there and I can call that "0" NIL or NADA or ZIP or ZERO. When you get a better title than "Cram-a-lot-etc." let me know.

I loved this puzzle more than I've loved in puzzle in either NY publication for at least a couple of weeks now. MA(ZERO)SKI!? VA(NIL)LA FUDGE!? Forget that they're theme answers - they're just Great fill.


Norrin2 said...

I'll keep working on it, but I'm kind of partial to "cram-a-lot".
I agree with you about the fill. Great stuff.

Linda G said...

I would never have finished this puzzle if I lived to be 100! Nothing was making any sense to me, and now I know why.

I took an Honors class called Deconstructing Disney four or five years ago, and we watched Song of the South. Very insensitive, yes. Sadder still is the fact that it wasn't perceived that way at the time. I was raised in the south and can remember some things that I'd rather not...separate water fountains and bathrooms. Younger students in the class couldn't believe that had happened in my lifetime.

Linda G said...

Just re-read what you wrote about Song of the South. How did we watch it if it wasn't on video or DVD? Were we able to get some film clips because it was for a college class? I'm confused.

Anyway, knowing what the trick was here, I went ahead and finished the puzzle. And I'm not even 100 years old ; )

Norrin2 said...

"Song of the South" has never been released on VHS or DVD in the USA but it has in Europe. It's not that hard to find if you're willing to look (and pay). I haven't seen it since I was a lad, so my memories of it are of the "misty, water-colored" variety.
I love the Joel Chandler Harris Uncle Remus stories and I hate to see good stories go to waste. Can't we enjoy "Song of the South" for what it was, when it was?
That's not a rhetorical question. I really wonder.