I may or may not get to the non-NYT crosswords Thursday morning—those potatoes won't peel themselves, you know. And I'm plumb tuckered out from making the sweet potatoes and the pecan pies tonight.
Oliver Hill, Will Shortz's teenage neighbor, now has his second crossword published in the New York Times. This one bends the rules, sort of—you're not supposed to have unchecked letters, and here there's a quartet around the center square that look unchecked. Actually, they're all the same letter, and that letter is formed by the black squares radiating out from the center in a big X, and the two big theme answers are clued [See diagram]—referring to that big black X. Those long answers are the ADULT FILM RATING and the ROMAN NUMERAL TEN. It's a cute gimmick. Clue and fill APOGEEs (an APOGEE is a [High point]): [Crosses and such] for AWARDS (as in decorations such as the Bronze Cross); SNOWPEA; [Word with ceiling or football] for FAN (go, Packers!); [Wisconsin senator Feingold] for RUSS (yeah, I'll bet he likes the Packers too); ALDINE is the answer to [___ Press, classic Venetian printer that introduced italics] (the only Aldine I know is a street a mile away from me); [Thumb's end] for SILENT B; [What x makes] for PRODUCT (though the x should really be a × symbol, and maybe it is in the newspaper—and is this supposed to tie into the theme?); and two words ending with I crossing each other, STIMULI and WAPITI. Two names didn't readily come to mind: LEONORA ["Fidelio" protagonist] and the SYD [___ Lawrence Orchestra (British big band since the 1960s)].
Patrick Blindauer's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Turkey Shoot," has theme entries containing turkey parts at the outer edge of the answer. BREAK A LEG? My kid has been hankering for a chance to gnaw on a big turkey leg, Renaissance Faire style, for about a year. Today is his big day! Here, ORU is clued as [Sch. named for an evangelist]. Had you heard that ORU has been roiled in scandal of late? If you're in the mood to read about misappropriations of ministry and university monies and Oral's daughter-in-law keeping company with teenage boys, here are some details (alleged in a lawsuit) and here are some more.
The LA Times byline is another of Rich Norris's pseudonyms—Cathy Carulli is an anagram of "actually Rich." The first three theme entries are clued [Turkey], [Yam], and [Gravy]. The fourth one is an apt admonition referring to those three, split into DON'T and PLAY WITH YOUR FOOD. (That last bit is 16 letters long, so this is a 16x15 grid.) The clues were hard, or maybe I just lost sight of Rich's wavelength. Funniest misstep: Deciding that [Yam] was a CARB FOR POPEYE. No! He ate spinach! "Yam" is a VERB FOR POPEYE. I though [Educational tools illustrating everyday life] might be SCHEMA, but they're REALIA. My dictionary widget dates the word to the 1950s.
November 21, 2007