June 14, 2007

Friday, 6/15

NYS 8:37—the Friday Sun .pdf can be downloaded here
6/1 CHE 6:20
NYT 5:19
LAT 4:22
Jonesin' 4:14
CS 3:07

WSJ 8:11
Reagle tba

(updated at 9 a.m. Friday)

Have y'all been able to track down the .pdf for the Friday NY Sun crossword? It's Craig Kasper's "Holy Crossword, Batman!" (It's now available at the Sun now.)

Speaking of Batman, when my kid and I went to investigate the slew of movie trailers around the corner this afternoon, we learned that they were filming interior scenes for The Dark Knight, the sequel to 2005's Batman Begins. Starring Christian Bale as Batman, Heath Ledger as a villain, Gary Oldman as the police chief (one neighbor saw Oldman walking to his trailer), and the excellent Maggie Gyllenhaal taking over Katie Holmes' part. About 25 trailers and RVs were parked on the school grounds at Ben's school, the extras were hanging out inside the school, and the film crew was filming inside an apartment the next block up from our street. I took a few pictures with my cell phone of a Gotham Police Department patrol car and the City of Gotham license plates on a row of vehicles. Now I want to see the movie next July to try to pick out all the local scenery masquerading as Gotham. And I can't wait to see what the school spends its Hollywood paycheck on—the school's last windfall brought a digital music lab. My husband just returned home and says the filming action continues even at this late hour. They do need to finish up and clear out before 28 school buses invade the school property in the morning so the kids can pick up their final report cards.

I don't know if any of you watched the short-lived 2001 live-action show, The Tick. It starred Patrick Warburton (David Puddy on Seinfeld) as the titular Tick, a superhero with a moth sidekick named Arthur. One of the other characters on the show was named Batmanuel. He had a Spanish accent. This relates not at all to crosswords, but hey, today's recurring motif is Batman.

The Friday NYT is a themeless 70-worder by Nancy Joline who has, as far as I know, no direct connection to Batman. (We do not hold this against a crossword constructor, of course.) I wasn't sure that HOROSCOPER was actually a word—it doesn't get many Google hits and I've never heard it used—but I checked my Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary and lo and behold, it's there as an inflected form of the archaic horoscopy. I didn't know that Halliburton was cofounded by one ERLE Halliburton—at last, a plausible alternative to Erle Stanley Gardner! I hadn't been familiar with TV chef PAULA Deen until a few days ago, when a blogger was horrified by her boil-in-the-bag omelet and posted this how-to link. Highlights: VANUATU, combining geography geekdom with Survivor pop-cult; [Pops] for OLD-TIMER; the BLUE / NOTE jazz label pair of entries; [Pennsylvania, e.g.] for AVENUE; [Gentlemen of Verona] for SIGNORE (thanks to the NYT Today's Puzzle forum folks for lambasting SIGNORS in a recent puzzle and cementing the SIGNORE plural in my head); [Drub] for PLASTER; and reference to Patti LABELLE's "Lady Marmalade." I rather liked the vague, short clues that leave you guessing as to which sense of a word is meant. For example, [Tramp] could be HOBO or HARLOT, but it's TRAIPSE; [Tell] means TATTLE but [Turns in] meaning RETIRES rather than RATS OUT. I hadn't known that EVITA PERON was a [First lady who was once a prominent radio actress], but had too many of the letters from the crossing words to be duped into thinking of U.S. first ladies from the radio era. One partial duplication, with GRANOLA BAR and OPEN BAR—but who can object to the inclusion of an OPEN BAR? Not I.


In the Sun, Craig Kasper doubles up on the Batman theme action with cartoony sound effects (ZAP! KAPOW! BONK! BAM!) embedded in the long entries together with scattered Batman villains: CATWOMAN at 34-Across, the PENGUIN at 48-Across, the PUZZLER at 4-Down, and the JOKER (portrayed in the in-production movie by Heath Ledger) at 51-Down. I didn't notice this at first, but now that I do, WHAMMO! I'm knocked out. Each of the sound effects comes from Batman socking the villain, with the sound effect and bad guy intersecting.

The toughest corner for me was the lower left, but eventually it came together when I figured out what 3-letter movie ending in K was a 1991 Best Picture nominee (JFK), took a wild-ass guess that Senator Chuck Hagel was once president of the USO, took another wild guess that BIC makes glue sticks (Staples.com doesn't sell Bic's sticks, but it does sell OIC brand glue sticks. Sure hope none of you were familiar with OIC glue sticks!). I didn't do the Roman-numeral math for [Divisor of MMMDCCC], but indeed, CLII × XXV = 3,800. I don't think I've ever played JOTTO, the [Word-guessing game], but reckon I'd like it. Highlights: [Like a private getaway, maybe?] for AWOL; [Apple core creator] for INTEL (the new Intel-based Macs); the BAOBABS or monkey bread trees; [Tap-in location] for LIP; [Unplugged] for ACOUSTIC (this CD is my favorite from the MTV Unplugged series); WOOLGATHER; [O no.] for CIRC (as in the circulation of O magazine); [Pittance] for SONG; [Clearances] for the plural noun OKAYS; and [When to expect a touchdown[ for ETA. Anyone else mystified by ["The ___ McLaughlins" (1924 Pulitzer winner)]? Turns out to be The Able McLaughlins.

Just quick takes on the rest—my son's school day is just 90 minutes long today (picking up report cards and saying their farewells):

Harvey Estes' CrosSynergy puzzle includes some lively fill amid a theme of broken GRINs (with letters splitting the GR from the IN). Doug Peterson's LA Times changes -INE endings to -INGs. Favorite example: [Ostrich relative in a holiday pageant?] is CAROLING RHEA. Matt Jones's Jonesin' puzzle, "Don't Sweat It," has a theme of people with the initials B.O., with a pop-cultury vibe I enjoyed. Patrick Berry's June 1 Chronicle of Higher Ed crossword provides a good challenge—figuring out the spoonerisms in the theme entries. (Had not heard of the [1819 Shelley poem, with "The"]—"The CENCI." Apparently it is a verse drama seldom performed as a play owing to its incest theme.) Vic Fleming's Wall Street Journal puzzle, "Pop Quiz," marks Father's Day (which is this Sunday) with an apt rebus. I got stuck at the intersection of a numerical prefix (usually it's OCTO, but don't we sometimes see OCTA?) and a 4-letter ELO song that turns out to be "DO YA.".