November 09, 2006

Friday, 11/10

NYS 13:05 for the crossword portion, 7:33 for the -oku
NYT 7:54
10/27 CHE 5:47
LAT 4:19
CS 3:48

Reagle tba
WSJ 6:59

(post updated 9:50 a.m. Friday)

The Wordplay DVD arrived today! Imagine my surprise when I popped it into the DVD player, fast-forwarded past the previews, reached the main menu, looked at the short video clips looping above the menu—and saw myself. Yes, the Fateful Curtsy not only didn't get cut from the film, but it also garners me a spot on the main menu. From the standpoint of hoovering up attention, that curtsy turned out to be the savviest inexplicable thing I've ever done. "Hi, I'm a dork. Have you seen my movie?"

The movie itself...well, what's left to say after the tenth viewing of anything? But the special features! Extra interview footage with the famous people—I watched only my favorites, Jon Stewart and Bill Clinton; Bill Clinton became so much more animated when he was talking about his friend (and mine!) Vic Fleming. More pre-tournament footage of the Stamford legends—highlight for me: Ellen's interesting discussion of puzzles and the Peter Pan syndrome. Remember that great song Gary Louris wrote for the closing credits, "Every Word"? There's a music video of it which I believe is not in heavy rotation on MTV, but/and I love, love, love that song. Another bonus section includes a few video segments from the Sundance Film Festival, which made me terribly nostalgic for that mellow but adrenaline-filled five-day trip (and gave me a few more seconds to appear on my own TV screen). My son enjoyed it, too—he knows a few of the people in the movie, and although he hasn't met Will Shortz, he recognizes him. I think he finds his name to be most memorable.

But did you navigate here just for a self-absorbed DVD review? No. Crosswords! My favorite Monday constructor, Lynn Lempel, shows some impressive themeless chops with the Friday NYT. It felt like a hard puzzle to me, but some other solvers have demonstrated that it's about average Friday difficulty, so I don't know what my problem was. Cool-looking grid, with that diagonal stretch of black squares giving a wide-open feeling. Great fill—BLOG crossing RINGTONE crossing CRIME LAB is au courant, and CRENELED in that section, au old castle. I got slowed down by trying ATONIA for ATAXIA ([Loss of muscle coordination]), which enticed me to try END where AXE belonged, which kept me from filling in BOGART and just generally bollixed up that section for a while. In the opposite corner, I opted for STAINS instead of SMEARS, similarly bogging me down (Ach! Two medically themed words that I was wrong on. The shame...) Also, when Paul RUDD is such a cutie, why go for NASCAR's Ricky RUDD in the clue? (I hate NASCAR.) Entertaining clues and fill overall (except where they vexed me)—ODD SOCKS (I have a collection of about eight odd socks that have accumulated now—where the hell are their mates?), [Touched] for DAFT (why did I try ALIT there??), [Spot for a date] for PALM TREE, [Fierce fighter] for BEARCAT (I would dearly love to be the bearcat of Stamford...but I could do without the bearcat's communication style), DEAR READER, SCRABBLE, SCRUB UP. Good crossword—I just wish I hadn't gotten my butt kicked on it.

The Friday Sun puzzle can't be done in Across Lite. Those of you in New York can buy the paper (if you can bring yourself to spend money on it) or download the PDF file from the Sun site.


I lost time while doing Frank Longo and "Ogden Porter's" "Crosswordoku" puzzle in the Sun—I glossed over the directions where it says, "treating the gray squares as black squares," and my printer printed those grays so light I thought I was contending with unknown word lengths. I loved the whole top left corner, but the rest of the puzzle also had some terrific fill (NO PROBLEM, NO EXCUSE, R-LESS, RATED X) and clues—to name just a handful, [Source of some allergies] for LATEX, [Shooting star, perhaps] for MVP, [Top finisher?] for PEE, [Chocolate and strawberry, e.g.] for COLORS, [Information information: Abbr.] for NOS, [It might have a small window] for ENVELOPE. (Yes, a handful = six. You got a problem with that?) Having done some of Frank's Wordoku book, I was half expecting ORIENTALS to appear in the central -oku grid.

Todd McClary's Chronicle of Higher Education puzzle, "Scrap Papers," includes four 15-letter theme entries and the word XANADU...but it's clued without reference to the classic Olivia Newton-John movie and song. Damn those academics and their fixation on poets in the canon!

Randall Hartman's CrosSynergy crossword includes plenty of old-school fill (AGIO, OLEO, ESTE, EBRO), but the theme is famous people, bears, or clocks that share my son's name, so that's fun. And how often do you encounter someone you've met within a crossword grid? KEN is clued as Ken Jennings, whose blog is a good read.