The Saturday New York Times crossword this week is from the atelier of Brendan Emmett Quigley. It's one thing to encounter an obscure name of a place or person and be stumped—but to have a 15-letter answer with a sensible clue like [Classic laugh-inducing parlor game with writing or illustrations] be utterly unknown is weird. Maybe you've all heard of EXQUISITE CORPSE, but I hadn't—if you're wondering what it's all about, Wikipedia's got a zillion links. That entry's sandwiched between two other 15s in the middle of the grid: COUNT ONE'S LOSSES, which seems like it's not quite an in-the-language phrase, and the READING RAILROAD we all know from Monopoly. Is "count one's losses" a phrase that emerged out of a mild mangling of "cut one's losses" and became about taking stock rather than minimizing damage?
Moving along to other clues, other answers: MARK CUBAN pops in at 1-Across, with a clue that reads [Billionaire sports entrepreneur who heads HDNet]; no idea what that means, as I know him as the Dallas Mavericks owner and the guy who was on some reality TV show giving away money or hiring someone Apprentice-style. (Speaking of pro basketball, [Court stuff] means DUNK here.) [Case made for a shooter] made me thing of guns and marbles (I think the only people who still play marbles are the magical ones who live in Crosswordtopia, with their agates and taws and immies, always talking about UTA Hagen—who, by the way, [played Martha in Broadway's "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"]), but the answer was CAMERA BAG. Whaddaya know? ROILY ([Agitated]) is in my dictionary, with reference to turbulent water. Anyone ever read [Dr. Seuss's "Too Many ___"] DAVES? I like to follow marathon action, so I liked HAILE clued as [Marathon runner Gebrselassie]; he's broken 25 world records and is damned fast. (Plus, his name ends with Lassie.) AOL is the [Name for Quantum Computer Services since '89]; I had no idea. There are a pair of 5-letter entries without vowels: NSYNC and RSVP'D. TOMATO RED is [What green might ripen into]; fair enough. Wait, RAMEN is a [Far East bowlful]? I dunno, it seems pretty Midwestern to me. Is it popular on all the continents, I wonder? And what [Some religious fundamentalists] did you think of? I started out with the Shakers and their fundamental wood furniture instead of SHIITES. Guess what? A [Connecticut city on the Naugatuck] is ANSONIA. Who wrote "The Mischievous Dog"? 'Twas AESOP (though I was willing to give the credit to Joseph Alsop instead.) More literature: GODOT is [One who's waited upon]—the other day I saw a car with a GODOT vanity plate and wished I could have been stuck in traffic behind it. "Let's go." "We can't." "Why not?" "We're waiting for Godot." C'mon, that's way funnier than [Ecuador's southernmost coastal province], EL ORO.
All righty, that's enough rambling for tonight.
A busy day for la familia Naranja! We arose early and cabbed it downtown and to the Bridgehouse Museum where Michigan Avenue crosses the Chicago River. We got to see the bascule trunnion bridge open up and witness the giant gears spinning beneath the bridge. Then we raced the sailboats upriver (or is it downriver? Hard to know in a river that's had its direction of flow reversed by engineers) as the Wabash, State, Dearborn, Clark, LaSalle, Wells, and Franklin Street bridges lifted. The Wells Street bridge is cool because it's got two-way car, pedestrian, and El traffic on it—when the bridge is opened all the way, the train tracks heading steeply upwards look like part of a fearsome rollercoaster. After the bridge adventures, we took the El up tp the North Side's mini-Chinatown and walked over to Pumpkinpalooza at a neighborhood park. Whew! Lotta walking today.
Back to crosswords:
In Daniel Stark's Newsday puzzle, some clues were good, hard, or good 'n' hard: [Stored, as chestnuts] for STABLED, chestnuts being chestnut-colored horses; [Franchise] for VOTE; [Capitol feature] for PORTICO; [Literally "little pan"] for PATELLA (I did not know that!); [Resistance reducer] for SIEGE (reducing political resistance rather than having anything to do with electrical current); and [Place for slides] for LAB (persumably glass slides to view under the microscope and not, say, water slides).
Highlights in Bob Peoples' LA Times themeless: TRANS AM clued as cheesy pop culture ([KITT of "Knight Rider" was one]); HOME ICE clued as [Edge for some skaters]; [Pinch] for SOUPCON; THAT'LL DO clued as ["I've seen enough"] rather than ["___, pig" (memorable line from Babe]; TIME WARP ([Fictional portal])—and we just heard the Rocky Horror Picture Show song, Time Warp, over at Pumpkinpalooza; and [Half a sleepless night?] for TOSSING (the other part being turning).
Thomas Schier's Martin Ashwood-Smith's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Triple Plays," concocts phrases with three N's in a row. I'm pretty sure there's no such thing as an INN NUTRITIONIST or JOHN GLENN NOVELS. Anyone know if there's a significance to the NNN trigram?
Edited to note: Tom Schier left a comment saying:
The "Triple Play" crossword which featured NNN was not constructed by me. The CrosSynergy files show that it was constructed by Martin Ashwood-Smith. I don't understand how my name was attributed to this crossword!
October 26, 2007