May 13, 2007

Sunday May 13 Part I

Barry Weprin again. Co-blogging today with EVAD. I will do the Sunday NYT and Merl Reagle's Philadelphia Inquirer.

For my only chance to blog a Sunday Times for this august audience I was hoping for a Paula Gamache or a Liz Gorski, frequent Sunday constructors whose work I love and whose clues I almost always get. Instead, I got Jim Page, a constructor whose work I did not think I was familiar with. I was wrong. I remembered his puzzles but not his name. If I had made the connection it might have helped me solve what was a really tough slog of a Sunday puzzle for me. See why after the fold.

Jim Page specializes in letter combinations or words hidden within theme entries and on tough themeless puzzles. Most of his many past NYT puzzles have been Fri and Sat. You may remember his "Comedy Central" puzzle from April where he had comedian's names hidden in the theme responses.

When I first saw the name "Two Times Three*", I thought: AHA another math theme. Wrong. As I began going through the puzzzle I noticed an exceptional number of "crosswordese" words and phrases: DAT, OSH, ADO, INC,TSE, REGS, CES, RTE, TEL,ELEV,OLE,SLO, and ENT, All in the top third of the grid. I knew this meant that there was likely a clever theme construction, I was hoping it would be fun when discovered as well. One out of two.

The theme entries all have repeated three letter groupings hidden within the entries:


An amazing feat of construction, but the kind of theme I often have to pay Orange a dollar to discern.

New facts I learned:

OLAFII was a "sainted king also known as the stout". I now assume he was the Olaf for whom the other college in the town where Orange went to school and my son Matt is now a sophomore.

EDISON invented the kinescope. I think I knew that and just forgot.
Also new to me, but fair "strong draft horses" for BELGIANS. They're also tall:

Favorite clues:
"Act of putting into circulation" for ISSUANCE.
"Cost of time or space" for ADFEE. I thought ADRATE, but it didn't fit.

"It has gutters on both sides" for LANE. I wrote in EAVE which, of course, only has gutters on one side.
"Diligent student, in slang" for TOOL. . . oh, the memories.

Favorite clue for bad fill: "Hair raising cry" for EEK. Runner up: "Money rival" for INC. Second runner up: "House calls" for YEAS. Itried AYES and NAYS first.
Not so great "Did not go fast" for ATE.

Least likely to pass the "Sunday breakfast test" (for me): "Woody's partner" for SOONYI. Yes, after all these years, it still bothers me. . . sorry, Woody. (BTW, is this a mini-theme with
Mrs KIM Doonesbury? Isn't she a younger Oriental second wife as well?

Other clues that bothered me:

"Support group" for ALANON. Shouldn't the clue indicate "for short" or the like?

"Becker on LA Law" for ARNIE. Shouldn't it be "Corbin on LA LAW"?

"East End abode" for OME. I actually immediately thought OME and said to myself:
Self, wouldn't there be a question mark if it was 'ome? So i didn't write it down.

When I learned I'd be splitting Sunday with Evad, I immediately volunteered to do Merl. Merl is one of my real favorites, the first constructor whose work became recognizable to me . It helps that I have enjoyed and done well on Merl's Stanford puzzles the three years I have attended, especially his puzzle 5 this year. I believe Merl's need to be liked contributed to his easier than expected (tricky but not unfair) puzzle which allowed me to achieve my unexpected top 20% finish and D class trophy.
That said, I was somewhat disappointed in this Sunday's Merl. It was clever yes (Merl is always clever), but it did not sparkle.

The puzzle, titled "Aptly named actors" has eight theme entries that are the names of real actors. The "apt" part refers not to the actor's name, but to the clue, which refers to a word that begins the the actor's last name.

Thus "Actress who likes groundbreaking films" is JOAN PLOW RIGHT.

"Actor who likes to let go" is MORGAN FREE MAN.

"Actress who likes exits and entrances"= CHARLOTTE RAMP LING

"Actor who likes to say cut"= GENE HACK MAN

"Actress who needs room to perform"= SISSY SPACE K

"Actor who takes his work in stride"(my favorite entry)= CHRISTOPHER WALK EN

"Actress who likes to say it's a wrap " (groan)= SUSAN SARAN DON

"Actor who likes Westerns-despite his name" = CLINT EAST WOOD

I solved from the bottom and thus got the Eastwood answer first and thought the clue might refer to the actors' roles as well as their name. Alas, with the others this appears not to be true.

My favorite non-theme words: RAWMEAT and MAKESACRACK.