Monday, July 16, 2007

Help, Jane, stop this crazy thing!

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 puzzles check this out. Or if you're ready to decide for yourself you can download this puzzle and join in on the fun here.

"Space-Age Greetings" is by Ken Stern, and thanks largely to a misspent youth (and adulthood) spant watching cartoons and reading co
mics I breezed through this puzzle. The theme is laid out immediately at 1D: With 4-6-23- and 26-Down, a TV theme introduction. And it's not just an introduction, it's the entire theme song:

Meet George Jetson,
His boy Elroy,
Daughter Judy,
Jane, his wife

I nailed this right off the bat when 6D: was looking like this HISB. Ordinarily if I have an entry that starts off like that, I assume something's wrong somewhere, but I was sure of all the across entries. And if HISB was correct, HIS BOY made sense (B as in Boy, after all) and if "His Boy" was corrrect and we were looking for a teevee theme song, that boy had to have been named Elroy. And from there I was able to fill in1,4,6,23 and 26 Down. (And by the way, I prefer my themed entries going down rather than the more common Across -- no real reason, I'm just a rebel, I guess.)

"The Jetsons" were a spinoff (of sorts) of "The Flintstones", which ran on ABC from 1960 to 1966 and was the first show on that network to be broadcast in color. "The Flintstones" were a phenomenon, a stone-age version of "The Honeymooners" that until "The Simpsons" came along were the longest running prime-time cartoon in history. TV programmers being as original as they are, figured if a cartoon about a suburban family in the past was a success, how about a cartoon about a suburban family in the future, with flying cars and robot maids instead of foot-propelled automobiles and records played by dino-bird's beaks. There were some similarities between the shows -- a lot of the same vocal talent, for one; Mel Blanc did the voice of Barney Rubble and Dino in Bedrock and Mr. Spacely (George's cantankerous boss) in the Orbit City; Jean Vander Pyl was Wilma and Pebbles as well as Rosie the Robot and Mrs. Spacely; Don Messick was Bamm-Bamm Rubble and Astro the dog.

One big difference though was that the Flintstones was a ratings sucess and had a good long run while the Jetsons were canceled after one season. But then something strange happened. Even though you usually have to run for five years or have a hundred episodes or more before you can get your show syndicated, reruns of the original 24 episodes ran for years and were always very popular. So popular that the show was eventually revived after more than 20 years and two more seasons were produced as well as "The Jetsons Meet the Flintstones" feature film and a live-action movie currently in production.

1A: Sign with a double-tailed arrow (MERGE) I was looking for astrological signs, not traffic signs. Virgo might be considered double-tailed.

28A: Beast in an Ogden Nash poem (LLAMA) My man Ogden. Good to see you again. The poem in question (complete with footnote) goes like this:

The one-l lama,

He's a priest.

The two-l llama,

He's a beast.

And I will bet

A silk pajama

There isn't any

Three-l lllama.*

*The author's attention has been called to a type of conflagration known as a three-alarmer. Pooh

(Apologies to Rex Parker)

40D: Stalactite's spot (CAVE) I wish Ogden Nash had written a mnemonic poem to help me remember which is a -tite and which is a -mite.

24A: A perro might chase one (GATO) That's dogs and cats for you gringos.

Two baseball refrences -- 21D: Andruw Jones's team, on scoreboards (ATL) and 25D: Pinstriped hot-corner player (AROD) -- but AARON is clued as Eckhart of "Thank You for Smoking" at 31D rather than the home run king Hammerin' Hank.

27D: Zimbalist Jr. of "Wait Until Dark" Mr. Zimbalist is the son of Alma Gluck (who has appeared in a crossword puzzle or two) and (not surprisingly) Efrem Zimbalist, Senior. He has been an actor, producer and writer. Had he added art to that list of accomplishments he might have been Zimbalist the Symbolist.

I've got to get back to work. See y'all later.


Austin said...

Stalactite/stalagmite is easy once you remember this:

StalaCtites hang from the Ceiling, while stalaGmites grow from the Ground.

Also, read History of Love last week and it was fantastic. Thanks for the recommendation. I'm thinking about picking up Special Topics in Calamity Physics almost solely on the recommendation by Audrey Niffenegger on the cover.

Norrin2 said...

Thanks Austin for the mnemonic and for the book tip. If Audrey Niffenegger liked it, I'll check that out too. I'm glad you liked the History of Love.

Orange said...

My husband taught me a different mnemonic: Stalactites cling "tite" to the ceiling, while stalagmites "mite" reach that high.

Anonymous said...

I learned: "When the MITES go up, the TITES come down." Complete with an illustration of a little girl trying to get ants out of her stockings...