June 30, 2006


Jim Page, who constructed last Sunday's NYT, visits themeless territory (TERR) for the Saturday NYT. The grid's got ample interplay between sections, promoting the solver's flow through the puzzle. The fill's a nice blend of old and new, sprinkled with foreign-language entries (such as the "old German coins" TALERS—whence we get the word dollar—and HAUS; SES, A MOI, and TROMPE). The classics lend us AMORETTO, PLEIADES, and CAESAR. From the early 20th century, the Marx Brothers are AT THE OPERA, ANAIS/NIN, and OL' MAN River. More recently, there's playwright Edward ALBEE, OPRAH, and the movie EL NORTE. For fun, throw in the Williams College team, the EPHS (named after founder Ephraim Williams), and CRAYOLA BOX. If you're curious about the "annual short-story awards" called the REAS, read this write-up.


Just back from a trip to the Lincoln Park Zoo (you can't beat gibbons for sheer entertainment) and shopping near the North Side theater that's showing Wordplay. I bought the companion book across the street at Borders (where there was actually another customer scoping out crosswords—he was looking for an easy book, but was daunted by the mostly-NYT selection of books and left empty-handed) and the cashier asked if the movie was out yet. Mind you, the movie theater is directly across the street from her workplace, but she apparently doesn't read the marquee. I assured her the movie was a lot of fun.

Before the zoo, I felt like a gibbon myself while working Stan Newman's Newsday Saturday Stumper. I got stuck in the middle and finally ended up Googling to find the answer to "Sam Walton did it on Wall Street in '84." Does anyone under the age of 40 know he did the HULA? Crossing AUTOSTAT ("bucket, for one") at the U, that was a trouble spot. AutoStat is a language for statistical programming, Google tells me. The OneLook dictionary search website unearths only one definition, computer-related (the word's not in my fairly new RHUD). It took a little digging to uncover a single site that holds a possible explanation, with autostat in the URL but not in the page itself; there's a rain-gauge bucket as part of a weather station. Surely I'm not the only one whose reaction to AUTOSTAT is "Huh?" The four corners of the puzzle were challenging and well-done, but that middle kinda sucked the fun out of it for me.

Newsday 11:19
NYT 6:01
LAT 5:24
CS 3:19