December 01, 2006

Saturday, 12/2

NYT 9:06
Newsday 7:44
LAT 4:49
CS 2:51

(post updated at 9:50 a.m. Saturday)

Okay, this is going to be a long post. The Saturday NYT is by Bob Klahn, who tends to be one of the toughest cluers out there. That means a zillion clues are worthy of mention, and it means nobody gets through this puzzle without working their mental butt off for it. First, I'll mention two gimmes that wouldn't have been gimmes for me just a few weeks ago: GUIDO and HIRT. The Cruciverb-L mailing list can be so helpful to solvers. A couple weeks ago, Vic Fleming initiated a discussion of GUIDO and old crosswordese combo "Guido's note"/ELA. It turns out E LA is two words, and Guido wasn't a singer, but some sort of [Musical notation pioneer]. Thanks, Vic! And more recently, regular commenter Barry Weprin singled out as a "Petergordonism" a clue for HIRT that was much like the Klahn/Shortz clue, ["The Green Hornet" trumpeter]—thanks for cementing that factoid in my mind, Barry!

I don't think my English-lit education taught me that Shakespeare's epithet was the Sweet SWAN of Avon. And what's this BASTA that's the [Third highest trump in card games] and that I've never heard of? Not crazy about STOP STREET—is that a regionalism? I haven't heard this term, either. But I loved DO I HAVE TO, A GOOD MANY, 'TRANE (short for Coltrane) ALIBI IKE with the double I. BRAD isn't just a [Thin fastener]. Roosevelt Island isn't just a part of Manhattan; there's also one in ANTARCTICA. EL ROPO can apparently mean a huge marijuana joint as well as a cigar.

Other clues I want to single out include [Leaves for dinner] for SWISS CHARD, [Brand of chips] for INTEL (salty! crunchy!), [Plain sight] for HERD, [Unlocked?] for BALD, [Park Avenue retailer?] for AUTO DEALER, [Washington posts] for INTERNS, the simple [In] for HOT, [Toaster setting?] for DAIS, and [Monopoly's railroads, e.g.] for TETRAD. Fabulous clues, every last one of 'em, and a vigorous crossword challenge. Kudos to Messrs. Klahn and Shortz!


Thomas Schier's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Roman Movies," calls on the solver's knowledge of Roman numerals. Which reminds me—I watched one episode of that new game show, 1 vs. 100, and was surprised when the 1 and assorted members of the mob of 100 had no idea which letter was the Roman numeral for 100. People! Were you not paying attention in junior high? This puzzle also contains the word XEBEC; click the link if the word was similarly unfamiliar to you so you can read more.

The themeless LA Times crossword by Ernest Lampert bummed me out with one of the first entries I got—[Seeks change?] for BEGS. Being reminded of the unfortunate straits of the destitute did not pass my "Sunday morning breakfast test"—I'd sooner see Merl's ENEMA or URINE, actually. Maybe [Works like a dog?] instead for a day when [Pleads] or [Entreats] is too easy?

The Newsday Saturday Stumper by Stan Newman was the finals puzzle in one of the recent smaller crossword tournaments. I solved it within the past month or two, and still found it mighty hard the second time!