April 29, 2008

Wednesday, 4/30

NYS 6:15
LAT 4:19
NYT 4:06
CS 3:10

Trivia tonight—will be out 'til 11-ish p.m. Central time. Discuss amongst yourselves in my absence. Last week's trivia contest demanded that we know a phone number that showed up in a Sun crossword this week—there's no telling how many of next week's crossword answers might stump our team tonight!

Hooray! We won tonight. After placing second last week, we're well positioned going into the last four weeks of the six-week cycle (knock on wood). We missed a question my son would've gotten—what was the name of the car in the original Speed Racer cartoon?—but we got a few that the other teams missed. In the spelling category, they finally used a tough word (last week's spelling question was playwright); we knew how to spell amanuensis despite the horrific mangling of its pronunciation. And in the crossword clues category, the question was not one that comes up in crosswords, really, but we got it anyway. (What's a group of giraffes called? Five letters, the fourth is an E.) In a tossup round, we deduced ourselves to Elvis's exact year of birth. What baseball player appeared in the movie Rawhide? We had no idea, but wagered zero points on that final question. What precious metal draws its name from a Spanish diminutive of another metal's name?

Henry Hook's New York Times crossword has three theme entries in which 8 letters are repeated. There are three popular song titles that end with ON MY MIND. The [1968 Glen Campbell hit] was GENTLE ON MY MIND, the [1960 Ray Charles hit] was GEORGIA ON MY MIND, and the [1982 Willie Nelson hit] was ALWAYS ON MY MIND. Ten answers in the fill are meaty 8-letter words or phrases. There's the ever-popular [Solver's online recourse], GOOGLING; the whuzza?-that's-a-word? DISSEVER (clued as [Cut into parts]); DWINDLED, or [Approached zero]; and [Put up], or NOMINATE. Favorite clues: [Till you get it right] for AGAIN; [Mouse who's always throwing bricks at Krazy Kat] for IGNATZ; [Hardly stuffy] for AIRY, as in an airy room; [Peace-and-quiet venue] for ARCADIA (also a Duran Duran spinoff); [Little fingers or toes] for the Latin plural MINIMI (not to be confused with Austin Powers' nemesis's sidekick Mini-Me); [What demonstrators demonstrate] for ACTIVISM; and [Senate tally] for both AYES and NAYS. Interestingly, this puzzle has 68 answers even though it's a themed puzzle (for which the maximum word count is often 78); themeless puzzles can go as high as 72. All those 8-letter answers surely help keep the overall word count in the impressive range.

I'm halfway through Lee ("Louie") Glickstein's New York Sun puzzle after nearly 4 minutes, but I keep dozing off. I'll have to finish in the morning—and I bet it's not so hard at all.


All right, I finished Lee's New York Sun crossword, "Ooh, Oui!" just now. The first half took about 4 minutes when I was somnolent, but the second half took about 2. As the "Louie Glickstein" byline suggests, the theme involves changing the "ee" sound to an "ouie" or "Ooh, Oui" sound. The South China Sea becomes SOUTH CHINA SOOEY, heehawing is HOOEY HAWING ([Pauses made while saying nonsense]), beekeepers are BUOY KEEPERS, and attorney's fee is ATTORNEY'S "PHOOEY." I like the variation in spelling for the sound (yes, English orthography is nuts). One of my trouble spots was [Exam for the college-bound]; dangit, "SAT I" didn't exist back in my day. I plunked in SATS, which made it difficult to extract the phrase IN THREE-D, [Like some films]. Plenty of high-Scrabble-value letters in the fill—SISQO crosses XENON, and there are Zs, Ks, and a J to boot. [Fashion designer Behar] is a new IKE clue for me; am making a mental note of the name now. Favorite clue, which wins for sheer weirdness: [Fighting ___ (unofficial mascot of Mississippi's Delta State)] is OKRA. Fighting Okra? I would do battle against the Fighting Okra.

Don Gagliardo's LA Times crossword begs "GIVE ME SOME SPACE," and includes spaces at the ends of four theme entries—e.g. KNOWLEDGE GAP, PEEPHOLE. There are two vertical 10-letter entries that aren't part of the theme despite their length—LOVE POTION and "CAN'T IT WAIT?"

Rich Norris's CrosSynergy puzzle, "TV Set," also has some long vertical answers that aren't part of the theme. Each theme entry contains a word ending in T followed by one starting with V, so a TV is hidden in each. The vertical fill was colorful—a JAM SESSION and BLOW A FUSE in one corner, a tasty CHEESE LOG and animator JOE BARBERA in the other. Overall, a good vibe to the fill.