Jason Chapnick lives in Florida and has collaborated with several puzzle creators, including C.C. Burnikel and Marti DuGuay-Carpenter, but today is the first time he's collaborated with Jeffrey Wechsler -- and this is the first time that Jeffrey Wechsler has collaborated with anyone
. Today's Los Angeles Times
crossword by Wechsler and Chapnick includes these clues and answers:
"1977 Hitchcock parody": HIGHANXIETY
"1976 parody of pre-talkies": SILENT MOVIE
"1974 Western parody": BLAZINGSADDLES
"With 'The,' 1968 parody of dishonest Broadway financiers": PRODUCERS
The puzzle also includes MELBROOKS, who directed those films and is celebrating a birthday today. Mel Brooks was born Melvin Kaminsky on June 28, 1926 in Brooklyn. He was taught to play drums by another Brooklyn native, legendary jazz drummer Buddy Rich. At age 20, Mel changed his last name to Brooks, after his mother's maiden name of Brookman, and began working as a drummer and stand-up comic at clubs in the Catskill Mountains. In 1949, he became a comedy writter for Sid Caesar's tv variety show and a year later joined the writing staff of Caesar's new sketch comedy series Your Show Of Shows
. Brooks and fellow writer Carl Reiner created the famous "2000-year-old man" sketch. Brooks and Buck Henry created the spy parody series Get Smart
In 1968, Brooks produced his first feature film, The Producers
, in which a producer and his accountant scheme to stage a Broadway musical which they know will flop -- and then they can abscond with all the investors' money. However, the musical, Springtime For Hitler
, turns out to be a big hit. A stage version of The Producers
ran on Broadway from 2001 to 2007 and won 12 Tony awards.
In Silent Movie
, Brooks plays a producer who wants to film a silent movie. He reasons that there have been no silent movies made in the past 40 years and such a film would now be considered a novelty and would be highly popular. Silent Movie
, which, like real silent movies, includes quite a few cards with printed dialogue so we can understand what's going on, contains what I consider to be the most clever gag ever filmed. Among the many famous actors whom Brooks telephones to ask if they'd like to star in his silent movie is French mime Marcel Marceau. In his on-stage persona of Bip the Clown, Marceau (1923-2007) performed worldwide for six decades. He never spoke during his performances. In the film, Marceau gets a phone call from Brooks asking if he'd like to appear in Brooks' silent movie. Marceau yells "Non!" (French for "No!") as he slams down the receiver. The only word spoken in a silent film came from someone who was famous for never speaking -- a truly inspired and brilliant gag.
More details of Brooks' life and career can be found at IMDB.com, Biography.com and Wikipedia. The news and pop culture site Forward.com has a nice essay today, "9 reasons we love Mel Brooks on his 90th birthday":http://forward.com/the-assimilator/343747/9-reasons-we-love-mel-brooks-on-his-90th-birthday/
"Tip jar bill" is ONE -- and I find it odd that almost every serve-yourself frozen yogurt business has a tip jar. We get a cup, we fill it with frozen yogurt, we weigh it and then we pay the cashier -- and we're expected to give him a tip? For what
? "Go for eagerly, as a chance" is LEAPAT. Does anyone ever say "leap at a chance"? I've always heard "jump
at a chance," never "leap." As far as leaping at a tip jar.....forget it!