(updated at 10:30 a.m. Sunday)
Happy Father's Day to those of you who are dads!
The Sunday NYT crossword by Tony Orbach and Patrick Blindauer was fresh and fun. The "Rear Axle" theme entries have had an -LE axed from the rear of key words. The funniest ones were THE TEMP OF DOOM (playing on Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom), FAMILY STY DINNER (style), and that great kids' book on analytical psychology, THE JUNG BOOK (Carl Jung supplanting the jungle). There were a few "Huh?" spots, particularly James THOMSON, the [James who wrote "Rule, Britannia"]—usually we see the guy who composed the music (Thomas Arne, he of the crossword-friendly surname) and not the one who wrote the words. Never heard of American tennis player VIC Seixas, who won Wimbledon in 1953 and was a top-ranked player off and on from the early '40s through the mid-'60s. Also never heard of SEXT, [Noontime service] or prayers said six hours after dawn or roughly at noon.
Moving along to the clues and answers I enjoyed most: TALL ORDER and its partner across the grid, IPSO FACTO; ["Stupid," in Spanish(!)] for MENSA; AXILLA, the medical term for the armpit, because I do like me some medical terminology; [Mile-high world capital] for KABUL (La Paz, in comparison, stands at an elevation of more than two miles); [They're beside sides] for ENTREES; [Stuntwork?] for BONSAI (stunted trees); the combo of SALT (14-Down) and SODIUM (43-Across); MARY ANN from Gilligan's Island; ["How ya doin'?"] for 'SUP (as in "Whassup?"); [___ girl] and ["___ girl!"] for COSMO and IT'S A; [Lose in one's drawers] for MISFILE; and [Record keeper?] for DEEJAY.
Paula Gamache's themeless CrosSynergy Sunday Challenge has three triple-stacks of 15-letter entries. After 1-Across came to me right away, the rest of it tumbled like a house of cards in front of a fan. There was one completely unfamiliar word: GAVI, the [Wine made from Cortese grapes]. It's an Italian white, and it's said to pair nicely with fish.
Henry Hook's online Boston Globe puzzle this week is "In the Material World." It's a quote puzzle (meh) that works toward the punchline at the bottom: a ZERO MOSTEL quote about JIM HENSON: "He has the best possible / actors. / If you have a disagreement with / them, you can / always / use them to wash your car." Said actors, of course, are the Muppets. I took some judicious guesses in a couple spots, starting with 1-Down. The [Crust-mantle link] is MOHO, short for the Mohorovičić discontinuity (more info at that link if you're geologically inclined today). If I ever knew the name Michael ANSARA, I forgot it. He is the Syrian-born actor who played Cochise on the '50s TV show, Broken Arrow. Middle Eastern, Apache...what's the diff? (Mel Gibson may be nuts, but at least he cast regionally appropriate actors in his Apocalypto movie.)
Merl Reagle's Philadelphia Inquirer puzzle, "How To Talk to a Caveman," cautions the solver against using certain terms when conversing with a caveman. The funniest: ["On weekends, don't ask him to"] GO CLUBBING. Loved the clue for HARASS, the misleadingly animal-oriented [Badger or hound]. Merl's note with with puzzle (in the Across Lite Notepad) says: "With the GEICO cavemen possibly getting their own TV series (ABC has ordered a pilot), I thought a little sensitivity training might be in order."
In Randall Hartman's Washington Post crossword, "Where Are You Employed?", six theme entries play with multiple meanings of key words. Why work at a pizza place? THE DOUGH (pizza dough and cash) IS GOOD. Why work at Michelin? I NEVER TIRE (car tires, get tired) OF THE JOB. Pretty easy, and fun.
Vic Fleming's LA Times syndicated crossword, "Plenty of Pop," evokes his Wall Street Journal puzzle from two days ago. The WSJ puzzle featured phrases with the DAD letter string inside, in rebus form, while this one has eight phrases like that with the DAD spelled out in three squares. This one probably went a little faster for anyone who'd already solved the WSJ puzzle (there can't be too many of us, can there?), as a couple of the theme phrases were the same.
June 16, 2007