April 04, 2008

Saturday, 4/5

Newsday 9:05 (in the Newsday applet)
NYT 5:35
LAT tba
CS tba

I liked Rich Norris's Saturday New York Times crossword. The three 10-letter answers stacked across the upper left corner start all with adjectives—SHORT STRAW, MEDIUM RARE, and TALL...no, wait...IRON MAIDEN. I couldn't believe that last one—an early '80s music clue ([Band with the 1982 platinum album "The Number of the Beast"]) I needed a bunch of crossings to get. Metal is not my genre. All righty, let's get straight to the business of the trickiest clues:

  • [Not a very good drawing] is a SHORT STRAW.
  • [A little red] means MEDIUM RARE (hmm, maybe OIL PAINT shouldn't be clued as [Medium in a tube], even though they're different senses of the word?).
  • The [View from the back seat?] is the NAPE of the neck of someone sitting in the front seat.
  • The vague [Certain code] is TAX LAW; April 15 is 10 days off—if you haven't filed your tax return yet, get a move on!).
  • [Get ready to take off] means STRAP IN, as a pilot or airline passenger might do, while [Connecting flight] involves STAIRS rather than air travel.
  • [When Arbor Day is observed: Abbr.] is SPR, short for spring, rather than APR, short for April.
  • The seemingly plural [Recent developments] is the LATEST.
  • [The other shoe, e.g.] is a MATE, not just something that's expected to drop.
  • [Bean product?] is a BRAINCHILD.
  • [Upsetting types] are DARK HORSES in the race.
  • [Twist things] is the plural noun, RINDS (as in "a twist of lemon") and not a verb, while [Saves, e.g.] is a baseball STAT and not a verb ending in S.
  • The vague [Test] is a TRIAL RUN.
  • [It's hard to do this barefoot] is WATERSKI, but my first thought was TAPDANCE.
  • [Fountain requests] are WISHES when you throw a coin in, and not soda fountain orders.
  • A [Standard] is a YARDSTICK you measure something against.

These ones are "just the facts, ma'am" clues—straightforward factual clues you may or may not know the answers to, many of 'em interesting:
  • [Da capo ___ (Baroque piece)] is filled in by ARIA (solo singer plus instruments).
  • The [River past the ruins of Nineveh] is the TIGRIS; across the river from Nineveh is Mosul, Iraq.
  • A [10th-century exile from Iceland] is ERIC THE RED.
  • [Bygone New York daily, with "the"] is HERALD.
  • From the land of math and science, we have RADIXES ([Base numbers, in math]) and TRIVALENT ([Like some chromium and arsenic]).
  • DEPAUL University's team are [The Blue Demons of the N.C.A.A. Big East], and I can't believe I waited for crossings to reveal...my parents' alma mater.
  • Lake TITICACA is the [Two-part lake connected by the Strait of Tiquina], and it's everybody's favorite body of water from Trivial Pursuit.
  • [1996 Emmy-winning role for Alan Rickman] is RASPUTIN; totally forgot this, though I feel like I saw part of it on TV a couple years ago.

[Question answerer] is a POLLEE—I don't recall seeing the word before, but it is a valid noun derived from the verb poll. My eyeballs want this to transfigure itself into actress and director Sarah POLLEY or POLLEN, but then we'd lose the DARK HORSES.

The first name of [Choreographer Lubovitch] is LAR—this is the second time I've seen his name and I hadn't remembered him, so it was time to read up. He's a couple weeks younger than my mom (like her, born in Chicago), founded his own dance troupe in '68, and choreographs ballets, Broadway shows, and ice-dancing routines. Maybe I'll remember the name now.

I don't get why [Thai relative] is VIET. According to the Wikipedia articles on those languages, they're in different language groups, and the countries are separated by Laos and Cambodia. Is this clue akin to cluing ITALIAN as [German relative] because they're both European? I await enlightenment.


Barry Silk's LA Times crossword has a lot of good stuff in it, but alas, I am running out of blogging time this morning (the subsequent paragraphs were written first). Favorite bits: [Dutch for "hidden river"] for SCHUYLKILL (crazy letter sequence + Dutch etymology = winner); IRAQ is followed by IRANIAN OIL ([Japan and China are its biggest importers]); [Mass transit unit] is both a TROLLEY CAR ("Clang, clang!" It's Mister Rogers' Neighborhood!) and a TRAM; [Settler, sometimes] is a CREDITOR; [Capital east of Bangor] is HALIFAX, Nova Scotia; [Where pa'anga are spent] is TONGA; and Christina AGUILERA ([2000 Best New Artist Grammy winner] crosses EGG SALAD ([Sandwich spread]), which amuses me for some reason.

Eww, I don't care for the Newsday crossword applet one bit. I did the "Saturday Stumper" by Stan Newman (writing as "Anna Stiga") on it, which I never do, and when you start in the middle of a word and reach the end...it just leaves you there. I like to be delivered promptly to the first blank square from the beginning of the word. And using the arrow key to change directions also moved me one square over in the new direction, which I'm not used to. Moreover, in my browser, not every clue was entirely visible, so the ROLEX clue was [BusinessWeek's #1 brand in ']. So! Next time, I will wait as long as it takes for the printer to function before I give up and use that applet. EASY RAWLINS looks terrific in the grid, but ["Cinnamon Kiss" hero] didn't tap anything I know. [Ilene and Rosanna, to Strait] are the EX'S in the George Strait song, "All My Ex's Live in Texas" (I know it only from crosswords). [Coke product] is TAR, from dirty industrial settings, and not TAB soda. The surprise [Romance language] is ARAGONESE...which I do not speak. [Fixin' to] means GONNA. I got DIVESTURE ([Shedding]), but prefer divestiture. As always in the themeless Newsdays, there are some vague short clues, such as [Flights] for AIR TRAVEL—not stairs, flights of fancy, lams, wine flights, or anything to do with birds, but any of those would be a plausible interpretation of the clue.

Martin Ashwood-Smith's CrosSynergy crossword, "Set Piece," is Monday-easy. The three theme entries have the same clue, [SET]. Set is one of those words with a zillion dictionary definitions and multiple etymologies—two theme answers relate to verb definition 1 and noun definition 9 for set with an Old English derivation; a set of items or a musician's set come from the Latin secta instead. The third theme entry is Set, the EVIL EGYPTIAN GOD. According to this, it sounds like he wasn't so evil—just the victim of a smear campaign.