(post updated at 9:30 a.m. Saturday)
This week's Saturday NYT crossword is by Rich Norris. I liked it a lot and was feeling quite clever as I zipped through the grid…until I hit the southwest corner and screeched to a halt. I'll bet everyone who came into the lower left corner of the puzzle from the right (and who isn't a martial arts expert) figured that the [Form of boxing using both the hands and feet] had to be KARATE, especially since that fits the *A*ATE pattern that the crossings yield. The answer turned out to be SAVATE (two syllables), which is also called French kickboxing. (I do love Wikipedia's one-stop shopping for quick reviews on approximately two zillion topics. This particular article also tells you what well-known books and movies have included savate.) In all my years of being a medical editor with FRECKLES, I'd never encountered the word ephelides (plural of ephelis). The other not-so-well-known scientific word of the day is [Lacking light], APHOTIC. This puzzle spurred me to finally iron out the difference between ET ALII (clued as [Bibliographer's term]) and et alia. Et al. can be expanded three different ways: the masculine "and others" is et alii; the feminine, et aliae; and neuter, et alia. It's worth learning a little about John RAE, too. Rae was the explorer who found the Northwest Passage (in the Arctic region north of Canada) between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The Rae Strait, [east of Canada's King William Island], was named for him.
The clues that challenged or entertained me the most included [Top with a quip, maybe] for T-SHIRT; [Bow-making time] for CURTAIN CALL; [Conjoined area] for TRISTATE; [Knot] for BRAINTEASER; [Indication to look down] for ASTERISK; [Stretch in the 90's, say] for HEAT WAVE; [Lies together?] for PACK (as in "pack of lies"); [Convenient, in a way] for EASY-POUR; [Kids] for SMALL FRY; and [It's in the neighborhood: Abbr.] for EST (short for estimate). Last but not least, I liked the colloquial trio of I'D LOVE TO, IS THAT SO?, and I, FOR ONE.
The Newsday Saturday Stumper by Anna Stiga (a.k.a. "Stan again") has a great clue: [Split personalities] for CROATS. (Split is a Croatian city on the Adriatic Sea, with some architecture dating back to the Roman Empire.)
Alan Olschwang's LA Times puzzle included some names I hadn't encountered before, and the crossings weren't so easy that the names filled themselves in. [His orchestra once included Hoagy Carmichael and the Dorsey brothers]? Turns out that's ED LANG. I was stuck at the G because I thought the crossing clue, [Calendar leg, perhaps], referred to something calendrical rather than a pin-up's GAM. The [2004 cycling gold medalist] is the Australian ANNA MEARES, and one really has to work to keep up with female cyclists—the marquee events like the Tour de France are for boys only. I liked the clue, [Alarm indicator], for GOODNESS ME. If you were truly alarmed by something, would those be the first words out of your mouth?
February 02, 2007