Thursday, August 18, 2011

Sleep in British slang / FRI 8-19-11 / 1984 film starring Tom Selleck as a jewel thief / Company behind 1960s yo-yo craze / Wild West show headgear

Constructor: Patrick Berry

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: DOSS (22D: Sleep, in British slang) —
Chiefly British Slang.

  1. Sleep; rest.
  2. A crude or makeshift bed.
intr.v., dossed, doss·ing, doss·es.

To go to bed, especially in a crude or makeshift bed; sleep.

[Perhaps alteration of dorse, back, from Latin dorsum.]

• • •

I do love a Friday Patrick Berry puzzle. I know it will (probably) be easy enough that my focus will be on appreciating it rather than cursing it for its brutality. Actually, I rarely find Berry puzzles brutal, mainly because I know that in the end, the grid will be populated almost entirely by real words, names, and phrases, and very little forced or seemingly made-up baloney. But Fridays are a nice difficulty level at which to enjoy the Berry artistry. Today's puzzle started out Very easy, then became less so, finally ending (in the NE) in not-at-all easy. For reasons I don't completely understand myself, I've been compiling a giant playlist on Spotify composed entirely of Top 40 hits from 1978-1980. A formative musical era for me. I listened to lots and lots and lots of Pop and Rock radio–my primary entertainment at a time when we had no cable TV, and obviously no internet, no VCR (let alone DVD player or DVR). We got our first video game console some time in that period, but I was still years away from a Walkman, years away from seeing MTV for the first time. So: radio. This is a roundabout way of saying "ESCAPE" was a flat-out gimme (1A: Actual title of the 1979 #1 hit known as "The Piña Colada Song"). I'd heard it some time in the past week while putting together my playlist. I actually think Rupert Holmes's other hit, "Him," is a superior song (perhaps because I *am* into yoga), but "ESCAPE" is obviously legendary. From there, the NW fell like a "Jersey Shore" cast member.

SW was kind of hard to get into, but I finally used REMET and UNLIT to get FLAMENCO (49A: Foot-stomping music), and then things weren't too bad down there. Not sure why I know MRS. SMITH (36A: Lady famous for piemaking), but I confirmed her with ECHO, and then the SE proved the easiest corner of all (down in about 30 seconds). Toughest section by far was the NE. It was so tough that I had trouble even after getting Every Single Short (5-ltr) Down *and* ADAM WEST (7A: "Family Guy" mayor, or the actor providing his voice) and DOOLITTLE (22A: Higgins's pupil in elocution). Thank god I knew ADAM WEST, by the way. Dumb luck I've watched "Family Guy" enough to know that bit of pop culture trivia (on which this puzzle relies awfully heavily; witness "ESCAPE," ADAM WEST, BORG (44A: "Star Trek: First Contact" villains, with "the"), and one of the reasons the NE was so damned tough: the long-forgotten (by me) "LASSITER" (18A: 1984 film starring Tom Selleck as a jewel thief). Guessed ALL GONE, and then finally tipped the puzzle over by getting the elusive GLOSSIES. Never ever heard of DOSS—would've helped a lot (22D: Sleep in British slang).

  • 34A: Ignoring copyrights, say (PIRATIC) — PIRATING ... PIRATING ... fit, damn it!

  • 46A: Girl's name meaning "messenger of God" (ANGELINE) — I'm guessing ANGELINA means the same thing? Needed a METEORS strike to fix that one (36D: Falling rocks)

  • 53A: Wild West show headgear (STETSONS) — given all those common letters, I should've guessed this would grace the bottom of the grid, but I was looking for something much more elaborate / specialized at first.

  • 54A: Place to sit, ironically (STANDS) — one of several great clues. See also 10D: Old-fashioned letter opener (MESSIEURS) and 27D: Like Lincoln before his presidency (BEARDLESS).

  • 6D: Newton-meter fractions (ERGS) — you tend to learn ERG very early on in your crossword education. Or you used to. ERG has really dropped off the map in the Shortz Era. Or so it seems.

  • 12D: Weird Al Yankovic's first Billboard hit ("EAT IT") — another pop culture gimme. I would've guessed "Like a Surgeon."

  • 26D: Outlaw Kelly of Australian legend (NED) — My fourth-favorite NED, right after Flanders, Beatty, and Rorem.

  • 29D: 1950s-'70s senator Ervin (SAM) — Before my time, but I learned him from crosswords (probably via ERVIN, actually).

  • 38D: Company behind the 1960s yo-yo craze (DUNCAN) — should've known this. Instead, couldn't get DANNON out of my head. "Maybe they made yo-yos as well as yogurt ..."

  • 45D: "No good ___ plot can be sensible ...": W. H. Auden ("OPERA") — my favorite OPERA-related clue of all time. Of All Time.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

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