TUESDAY, September 15, 2009
Donna S. Levin

Theme: Lost in Space — First words of the theme answers together make a catchphrase from the 1960s television show.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Toon rodent who's a British secret agent (DANGER MOUSE).
  • 26A: Suitor's proposal (WILL YOU MARRY ME?).
  • 42A: Shipwrecked literary hero (ROBINSON CRUSOE).
  • 57A: TV sci-fi series, first aired 9/15/1965, on which a robot spoke the catchphrase formed by the first words of 17-, 26- and 42-Across (LOST IN SPACE).
Crosswordese 101: If you only have room in your head for one electronics company, make it RCA. Today's clue — 59A: Nipper's co. — is not terribly common, but try to remember that Nipper is the dog looking into the old-fashioned gramophone. You don't always get a hint that the answer is an abbreviation, but you might in early-week puzzles. RCA is typically clued in relation to its competitors (Toshiba, Zenith, Philips, Sharp) or one of its products (HDTV, DVD, Color TV, audio equipment). Also good to know that RCA was purchased by GE in 1986, that it is now a Sony BMG record label, and that it was once named RCA Victor.

Crosswordese in the puzzle that we've already covered are all people today: ENIDS (60A: Writer Bagnold et al.), ESAI (2D: Actor Morales), ORR (22D: Hockey legend Bobby), and ERTÉ (31D: Art Deco designer).

I'm just barely too young to remember "Lost in Space" so I always get it confused with "Land of the Lost." But I've definitely heard the catchphrase. Actually, the most I ever heard it was back in the early 90s when I had a co-worker named Will Robinson. Can you imagine how tired he must be of hearing this stupid phrase? He's probably a nervous wreck. Anyway. It wasn't difficult to get the theme and the fill was pretty solid for a Tuesday. Nothing terribly sparkly, except maybe "I TOLD YOU SO!" (11D: "Shoulda listened to me!") and HOUSEMAN (8D: Male servant).

Let's see, what else did I notice?
  • 1A: Actress Messing of "Will & Grace" (DEBRA). I didn't watch "Will & Grace" regularly, but every time I did I thought it was very funny. All four of the main characters crack me up.

  • 15A: Endangered layer (OZONE). Well, sure, if you believe the scientists.
  • 21A: "Look Homeward, Angel" author Thomas (WOLFE). Have I ever read any Thomas Wolfe? Hmm, hold on ... nope. Why do I keep thinking "Bonfire of the Vanities"? Oh, that's Tom Wolfe. Apparently two different guys. Huh.
  • 32A: Baseball's "Big Unit" __ Johnson (RANDY). I wanted to say something funny here, but everything that comes to mind is completely inappropriate.
  • 47A: Ship, to a sailor (HER). When I first met PuzzleHusband he had this habit of referring to inanimate objects as "she." Like, he'd be looking for something and go, "Oh, there she is." So every time he did that, I would say, for example, "Stapler? Female." At first he had no idea what I was getting at, but he finally knocked it off.
  • 1D: Bombs that don't go off (DUDS). Also a delicious chocolate and caramel candy, briefly.
  • 6D: "Hold the Hellmann's" ("NO MAYO"). Oh, this could have gone on my sparkly list too. Great colloquial phrase that's fun to see in the puzzle.
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Everything Else — 6A: Nothing, in Latin (NIHIL); 11A: 6-Across suffix (-ISM); 14A: Typical (USUAL); 16A: Boston __ Party (TEA); 19A: Long in the tooth (OLD); 20A: Scenic routes, often (SIDE ROADS); 23A: Attempt (TRY); 24A: Online birthday greeting (E-CARD); 33A: Cattle drive buddy (PARD); 34A: Dinghy propeller (OAR); 35A: TiVo predecessors (VCRS); 36A: Bouquet (SCENT); 38A: Litter weakling (RUNT); 39A: Barely manage, with "out" (EKE); 40A: German name for Cologne (KÖLN); 41A: Cup for café (TASSE); 46A: "__ directed": medication warning (USE AS); 48A: Name (TITLE); 50A: Mike Nichols's comedy partner (ELAINE MAY); 56A: Aardvark's snack (ANT); 61A: Pinball no-nos (TILTS); 62A: Buddy (PAL); 63A: Thick (DENSE); 64A: Two foursomes (OCTET); 3D: 1930s-'40s German-American political group (BUND); 4D: Fury (RAGE); 5D: In a wary way (ALERTLY); 7D: Shirt that once had a reptilian logo (IZOD); 9D: Aetna's business: Abbr. (INS.); 10D: Moving toward the calmer side, at sea (LEEWARD); 12D: Ego (SELF); 13D: Created (MADE); 18D: Actor Calhoun (RORY); 25D: Golfer's wheels (CART); 26D: Loony one (WACKO); 27D: How a debater's response is made (IN REBUTTAL); 28D: Mormons' gp. (LDS); 29D: Philly Ivy League sch. (U. PENN); 30D: Minister's home (MANSE); 32D: Trailer park resident, for short (RV'ER); 36D: Slugger Sammy (SOSA); 37D: Forms an increasingly smaller circle around, with "on" (CLOSES IN); 38D: Coll. dorm VIPs (RAS); 40D: Prepared to say 26-Across (KNEELED); 41D: Seeks help from (TURNS TO); 43D: Cuba or Aruba: Abbr. (ISL.); 44D: Common poolside chair (CHAISE); 45D: Bridle part (REIN); 48D: Ball field protector (TARP); 49D: Peruvian of old (INCA); 51D: Former Ford cars (LTDS); 52D: DeMille film, say (EPIC); 53D: Enhanced milkshake (MALT); 54D: Entr'__: intermission (ACTE); 55D: Mon., on Tues. (YEST.); 58D: Four quarters (ONE).


chefbea said...

Good easy puzzle. I remember watching Lost in Space way back when

SethG said...

I always want to spell CRUSOE with an A. Because of Gilligan.

Denise said...

I absolutely almost did this by going straight through with ACROSS clues -- that was fun! And I never heard of the show.

I got PAUSED at "Randy" but wow --

John said...

Watched Lost in Space and Danger Mouse. Didnt like Star Trek when it first came out, but like it now!

Enjoyable puzzle and write up.

OHT said...

Watching Lost In Space was a family event every week in our house. The robot actually said "Danger, Will Robinson" only once during the show's 3 year run.

Pretty good Tuesday puzzle. My only stumbling block was at 55D because I kept reading the clue as "Mon. or Tues."

john farmer said...

I hafta say I never heard of DANGER MOUSE the toon secret agent. Brit TV cartoon? Was that popular here? I know there's that Gnarls Barkley guy, but can't say I know much about him either. In any case, it was an easy puzzle except I had an error for the first theme. I wrote in HORSEMAN at 8D instead of HOUSEMAN and never really thought much about it.

I remember "Lost in Space" from when I was a kid and I thought it was campy in not such a good way, even back then (unlike "Batman" which was campy in an amusing way). I'd say the "Danger, Will Robinson" catchphrase was much more popular than the TV series.

Anyway, Happy 44th to all the Robinsons!

*David* said...

Nice easy puzzle I filled in DANGER MOUSE also thinking of the fellow from Gnarls Barkley. I liked the fill and always enjoy sports and other literary/entertainment fill in my puzzle.

Just finished reading Look Homeward Angel about a month ago. Thomas Wolfe, the father of the modern Southern novel.

Didn't know much about Lost in Space so the theme was lost on me. If is was a chance to watch a rerun of Lost in Space or Star Trek as a kid is was Star Trek in a landslide.

Rex Parker said...

Danger Mouse is a big deal record producer:


GLowe said...

"Lost in Space", "Voyage to the bottom of the Sea", and "Time Tunnel".

Classics. I remember the episode where the robot finally broke down and professed his love for Will Robinson. I was about 6 or 7, and I went, "huh?".

Bohica said...

Cute puzzle.

I remember Lost in Space from my youth. It was pretty scary at times for a seven year old, but seeing re-runs years later made me question what was wrong with me for ever being afraid. I loathed the conniving Dr. Smith. Every time it looked as if they may have found a way home Dr. Smith ruined it for them through some self serving scheme.

Joon said...

i remember there being a movie version a few years ago. it looked pretty bad, too.

HOUSEMAN is kind of blah, but HOUSMAN rocks. a shropshire lad is my favorite volume of poetry by anyone ever.

i read look homeward, angel about 10 years ago, and i have to say: i didn't get it. or if i did get it, it wasn't very good, but that's being uncharitable.

shrub5 said...

HOUSEMAN could have been clued as: He played Professor Kingsfield in the movie and subsequent TV series "The Paper Chase." John Houseman won an Oscar for the film role but many may remember him in the ad for the brokerage firm Smith Barney: "They make money the old fashioned way...they earrrrrn it."

Very enjoyable write-up, PG. LOL at Jack on a caffeine buzz in the "Will and Grace" clip!

mac said...

Easy and quick, but enjoyable. Nice write-up, as well, PG. I haven't seen much of Will and Grace, but thought it was funny when I did. They certainly had an easy time of it in that scene. Also never saw Lost In Space or the Mouse.

Oh, yes, I had Houseboy. Sorry....

Charles Bogle said...

Agree w shrub5. And distinguishing among Thomas Wolfe, Virginia Woolf, Tom Wolfe et al always traps me up. Although I recall Lost in Space, I had no good guess re DANGERMOUSE. Interesting generational difference between this puzzle and today's very interesting NY Times!

Tom Mc said...

The RCA logo of Nipper listening to the gramophone was originally more macabre: Nipper and the machine were on top of Nipper's owner's coffin, and Nipper was listening to "his master's voice". This vividly got across the strangeness of recorded voice when it was still a novelty.

A faint echo of this still exists in Canada: there is a chain of music stores called HMV, for His Master's Voice.

chefbea said...

Still waiting for my nyt puzzle to be delivered to my in box!!!!

Donna said...

@Shrub5 et al. -- You're on my wavelength: when I submitted the puzzle to Rich, I had clued HOUSEMAN as "Kingsfield portrayer in 'The Paper Chase.'" It's always interesting to me to see which of my clues are changed in the editing process. 9 times out of 10, I agree with the revisions -- but every now and then, I'm baffled.

Anonymous said...

@Tom Mc - Fascinating info on Nipper.

Pretty breezy today but I guessed wrong at the cross of MANSE and TASSE. Kinda tough that one...

- - Robert

Sfingi said...

@Tom Mc - I don't have to explain His Master's Voice now.

I loved the (campy) Dr. Smith on Lost in Space. In my childhood, I watched Captain Video and wish I still had my space helmet, which I'm sure could asphixiate a kid. This was plastic and you had to order it in the mail. In those days (1949 - 50s), we were not inundated with ads directed at kids.

My son watched Dangermouse, which was a cute 'toon.

As far as the Wolfe boys, Tom is alive and interesting, and I didn't care for Thomas's writing. A bit racist and sexist, too. And mean to his German-Jewish girlfriends.

Donna, thanx for the German refs (40A 41A). Too bad you can't cross umlaut words - maybe no one could tell. And many great memories.

Nichols and May - sophisticated, improvisational comedians of late '50s, early '60s. The best.

Guin said...

Elaine May was in one of the funniest movies I ever saw - "A New Leaf" with Walter Matheau.

shrub5 said...

Maybe the editor thought a reference to a (non-blockbuster) 35 year-old movie didn't fit the difficulty level of a LAT Tuesday puzzle? "The Paper Chase" TV series ran for one season on CBS from 1978-79. PBS then rebroadcast all of the episodes. In 1983, Showtime brought it back where it ran for 3 seasons and the main character Hart finally graduated law school. This sixty-something year-old really enjoyed the show and thought it intelligently portrayed some important issues of the times.

john farmer said...

John Houseman was best known for his role in "The Paper Chase" but he never did much acting until his 70s. Until then he was best known as a producer and he collaborated with Orson Welles back in the Mercury Theater days.

PARSAN said...

There is a hugh statue of Nipper on the top of a building on Broadway in Albany, NY. It is one of the city's landmarks. RCA originally owned the building and when new owners took over several years ago they said they would take Nipper down. There was such a public outcry that they withdrew their plan. We had a friend who worked for RCA and in the 60's he gave my newborn daughter a 4 foot tall Nipper stuffed toy. Fun puzzle!

ddbmc said...

Loved Billy Mumy on Lost in Space. Jonathan Harris's character was SO evil, but he had a spectacular voice and did voice work into his old age. Great info on "The Nipper, @Tom Mc. Remember?- "Wow! I got color TV! RCA Victor Color TV. If my friends could see me now! Wow! I got color TV!" (darn jingles just won't go away!) Nice, quick puzzle today. @PG-Sean Hayes was a riot in that clip! Thanks for including it!