February 26, 2008

Wednesday, 2/27

NYS 6:05
CS 3:42
LAT 3:37
NYT 2:49

Heavens to mergatroid! Just two more days before I pack my bag and head to Brooklyn for the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament! Puzzle-related blogging will be light this weekend, and ACPT-related blogging will probably be light until after it's all over, when presumably I'll have a long-winded wrapup.

The Wednesday New York Times crossword writeup will be late—pub trivia intervenes tonight.

The New York Sun crossword by Gary Steinmehl, "Throw in the Vowel," adds a vowel inside a 7- to 9-letter word, turning it into a two-word phrase with a markedly different pronunciation. A porpoise turns into POOR POISE, for example, and a tormentor into a golf TOUR MENTOR. Not knowing that [Paul McCartney's first name] was actually JAMES, I moved far away from 1-Across and worked this one from the bottom. When I made it back up to the top, the [Fall faller on an Italian island?] really threw me. CAPRI*CORN, but what fills in the asterisk? I was trying to change the central vowel sound, but in this entry, the added vowel adds a syllable (CAPRI ACORN). Grr! It didn't help that I blanked on the [GM subsidiary] and had no clue who ['30s and '40s pitcher Newsom] was (BOBO, crossing SAAB). On the plus side, 17 fill answers are at least 7 letters long.

Updated later Tuesday night:

Lee Glickstein's New York Times puzzle gathers the NUCLEAR FAMILY in the exact center of four theme entries: SKEDADDLE and THERMOMETER, PAWNBROKERS and SUBSISTED. (Side note: Some two-parent families have two moms or two dads.) Favorite entries: FRITOS clued as [Chips that one might "muncha buncha"] (ah, TV commercial nostalgia); "I WOULD"; DOTS clued as [Movie theater candy] (Sno-Caps kick Dots' collective sugary ass); ONE A.D. clued as [I, historically]; "BLESS YOU" (I prefer to say "Gesundheit"); and TRIBE clued as ["Survivor" team]; DEAD ON. I didn't know that BREF was the French word for [Concise, in Cannes], and the Hopalong [Cassidy portrayer of TV and film], William BOYD, was only faintly familiar.


At first I thought Randolph Ross's CrosSynergy crossword, "Word Oddities," was rehashing the double-letters theme, starting with BOOKKEEPER, the only (?) English word containing three consecutive pairs of double letters. The other four theme entries were different sorts of word oddities, and not all were ones I'd heard before—so it turned out to be an entertaining theme for this word geek. FIVE THOUSAND is the longest number spelled with no repeated letters. RHYTHMS is the longest word lacking the standard five vowels—didn't know that, but it was easy enough to guess. A prior crossword had, I think, demonstrated that STEWARDESSES is a left-hand-typed word, but I didn't know (a) that SOUPSPOONS was the longest word made of letters from only the second half of the alphabet, nor (b) that SOUPSPOONS wasn't two words.

I just finished Doug Peterson's LA Times crossword and have no idea what the theme is. Let's have a look-see. Oh. Books of the Bible, I think. Meh. Major props for including the Ali/Foreman/Rumble in the Jungle documentary, WHEN WE WERE KINGS, as a theme entry. (The others end with ACTS, JUDGES, and NUMBERS.) The fill sparkles in places—THUMBS UP, ROB LOWE, ELVIRA, a PLAYPEN, MACARONI with a "Yankee Doodle Dandy" clue, COSMO as the mag. I don't mind a TSAR at AGRA when there's no OLIO/OLEO/OREO action.