The Messrs. Q (Brendan Emmett Quigley and David Quarfoot) have teamed up on a 72-word themeless puzzle for the New York Times that exemplifies what a Saturday NYT crossword should be: gobs of lively and fresh entries, seasoned with uncommon letters and unusual letter patterns, language the way it's spoken, clues that make us think, and some straight-up tough stuff. The spoken-language category is well represented by Y'ALL, SCREW IT (probably making its mainstream newspaper crossword debut here), HOOEY, PODUNK, and IS THAT SO. Unexpected letter sequences are found in NFL DRAFT (7 consonants to 1 vowel—SCHWAB and BURNT also have but a single vowel), PVC PIPE, and XTERRA. Brendan's one of the contributors to the crossword in THE ONION ([Paper that calls itself "America's Finest News Source"]). Scrabbly answers include KUWAITI, TIME ZONE, JANE DOE, and NETFLIX. Interesting answers include PACE CARS, EAU DE VIE ([Brandy] is "water of life"? Bleh. I mean, Riesling I could see. But brandy?), FEVERFEW, and LUMIERE (clued here as [Early filmmaking brothers Auguste and Louis ___], but I prefer the indelible candlestick character in Beauty and the Beast, voiced by Jerry Orbach).
Favorite clues/entries: [Atkins diet no-no] for BUN; DRACO Malfoy, the arrogant twit in the Harry Potter series; [Pitch problems?] for BALKS in baseball; [Ruffles] for TEES OFF; ["Oh, I give up!"] for SCREW IT; [Rot] for HOOEY; [Minus sign equivalent] for EN DASH (those of you who just use a hyphen for minus, knock it off! your hyphen is too short to stand up to those digits); [Reunion gatherers] for the doesn't-end-in-S CLAN, and the does-end-with-an-S LEES from [Refuse]; [Part of "the many," in Greek] for HOI (polloi is the other part); plain and simple [Some] for A COUPLE; [Mountain, e.g.] for TIME ZONE; [It's far from a metropolis] for PODUNK; [Black, say] for BURNT; WAR CRIES in the same puzzle as CRUSADE; [Dialectal contraction] for Y'ALL; and [Like some books] for COOKED.
Toughest answers: ["No god but God" author ___ Aslan] for REZA; [German city where Napoleon defeated the Prussians] for JENA (also a town in Louisiana much in the news of late); [Fractional currency] for SCRIP; [Apollo's birthplace] for DELOS; and [Zoological cavity] for CLOACA (possibly the raciest and most scatological word ever included in a Times puzzle—Wikipedia just told me that some turtles breathe through the cloaca while diving).
My family has chanced upon three different Indy 500 PACE CARS, and I photographed my son beside the cars twice. I tried posting one here, but Blogger's being uncooperative.
All right, I'm practically falling asleep, but I want to get through the other Saturday puzzles since they're available and I won't have time in the morning. Will be heading up to Wisconsin for the weekend, and may tote my iBook to solve/blog from the BP gas station. It's less than a block from my in-laws'—is it kosher to walk to a gas station, park oneself on the couch, and make use of the wi-fi?
The Newsday Saturday Stumper by "Anna Stiga" (Stan Newman's alter ego) is good. Moderately Scrabbly, a great trivia factoid in the clue for MOTOROLA ([Name first used for car radios], hence the "motor" part), great letter sequence in NCWYETH, a crazy Trekkie ROMULAN, and more. Probably not as hard as my relative times indicate—as I said, I am sleeepy. But I liked the puzzle.
I also liked Doug Peterson's LA Times puzzle. Highlights, briefly: [Secret spot?] for ARMPIT made me laugh. URBAN LEGEND, AMOS N ANDY, MNEMONIC DEVICES, and I'M A LITTLE TEAPOT are terrific entries. Some crosswords with triple-stacked 15s can feel like slogs, but this one was as refreshing as a pellet of cool mint chewing gum. (Which I like.)
Martin Ashwood-Smith's CrosSynergy puzzle must have a theme. I didn't notice one while solving (and nearly dozing). Let's see: I did notice that after all. Each theme entry is a contrived phrase containing three O's in the middle(ish).
October 06, 2007