June 22, 2006


I just got home from the word-of-mouth sneak preview of Wordplay. Brief recap: I like the new graphics that help the viewer follow the ACPT scores and rankings. The crowd seemed to enjoy the movie, and only a few people left before the Q&A. Vic emceed the Q&A, and he and Tyler handled most of the questions. Patrick Creadon's brother Michael (associate producer of Wordplay, a.k.a. financier) and I joined them and also answered a few questions. (This part was awesome, because the audience included my husband, cousin, aunt, and neighbor—who I trust are all suitably impressed with my "also featured" status in motion pictures.) Best of all, the parts of the film where I came off the dorkiest were trimmed, thereby lowering my dork quotient. Anyway, it was good to see Tyler and Vic, as well as NYT Cru regulars Marty Howard and Popeye Minarcik. And it was great to be able to see the movie by taking a quick bus ride through the Lakeview neighborhood, rather than flying to Utah or Connecticut!

I returned home to the applet and saw that the time to beat was Bob Mackey's 6:40. (Saw you briefly in the movie, Robair.) The NYT was one o' those triple triple-stacks that look so hard to construct, but are much less formidable from a solving standpoint. This might be my favorite Bruce Venzke/Stella Daily collaboration. It's not so tough, but the nine 15-letter phrases were a lively batch—everything from OLD WHAT'S-HER-NAME to SADOMASOCHISTIC. (Is it PC to call the BDSM crowd "Deviant, in a way," though?) The short crossers weren't as special, but they generally won't be in a construction like this. There were some zippy Downs, though, such as SKEETER and GRANOLA ("It's available in bars")

Patrick Berry's Weekend Warrior in the Sun ties in with the NYT: the Marquis DE SADE sits at the bottom of the puzzle. Great words in this one—I ought to work ACCURST and URSINE into my conversation and writing more often. TOUCAN SAM of Froot Loops fame was always one of my favorite childhood cereal-box celebrities. Tons of tricky clues, like "Removable locks" for TOUPEE, and "Stud poker's elicitations" for WHINNIES (I don't want to know who's poking the horse and why—I'm just glad the clue didn't turn out to require knowledge of card games). I looked up a few unfamiliar terms: PORTIERE (clued as "curtain in a doorway," these are tall, skinny tapestries), PANDARUS (the linked sources says, "In the medieval romance of Troilus and Cressida, Pandarus is the name of the lascivious intermediary between the lovers. The word pander is derived from the latter story."), DRUMFIRE (sort of a blend between gunfire and drumbeat), and the Latin phrase in OMNIA paratus ("ready for anything").


The theme in Kathleen Fay O'Brien's LA Times puzzle is that six of the 24 7-letter entries are pronounced one letter at a time, as in BMOC GPA. Sort of a Sun Wacky Weekend Warrior vibe to it (though the rest of the entries are straightforward).

Military history's not my thing, but this week's Chronicle of Higher Education puzzle by Michael Ashley is erudite and fun.

Merl Reagle's "Word Division" has quasi-cryptic theme clues and answers. I finished the puzzle, but I'm having trouble parsing most of the theme clues. For example, "Only men like Al can land in foulness and like it" is STAGNATION. "Only men" = STAG, "land" = NATION, "foulness" = STAGNATION—but where do "Al" and "like it" enter into it? "A scary woman and a writer met at Lee's cheese party" is GORGONZOLA, the cheese whose name is gorgon + Zola—but who is Lee and why is there a party? I await clarification from somebody who grasps what's going on here.

Drat! For whatever reason, the Wall Street Journal and Philadelphia Inquirer puzzle files open in Across Lite with the timer off, while the Sun, LA Times, and CrosSynergy are raring to go. I often forget to start the timer when it's off. The WSJ is "Missing Pieces," by Harvey Estes. Wonderful theme—the theme entries have one letter removed and the clues hint at both the answer and the root phrase from which a letter was removed. That doesn't sound so special by itself, but the kicker is that the 10 letters that are removed are placed, in order, in a final theme entry that aptly describes the letters.

NYS 8:14
LAT 5:53
NYT 3:59
6/23 CHE 3:47
CS 3:47

Reagle 9:23
WSJ [untimed]