May 23, 2008

Saturday, 5/24

NYT 10:34
Newsday 8:15
LAT 5:05
CS 2:42

I am beat. Between five and a half hours of sleep last night and a delicious dinner out (with wine), I can scarcely keep my eyes open to type the proper keys. And yet! I went ahead and did the Saturday New York Times puzzle by Charles Barasch. Let's see how much I can say about the puzzle before I drift off to sleep.

Two 15s: MARRIED WITH KIDS, clued as [Like a family man], would resonate with me more without a man-specific clue. Does the family man LEAD A DOUBLE LIFE ([Be like Clark Kent])? Among the mid-range and short fill, here were my trouble spots and/or the spots that troubled me (but did not slow me down):

  • GUESSER is [One taking a shot]. Are you a guesser?
  • [Cy Young had a record 815] refers to STARTS. Alas, AT-BATS shares a few letters, which did slow me down.
  • I CAN SO is one of those playground retorts that more often pepper shorter fill; here, it's clued ["Just watch me!"].
  • [Slow runner in the woods] is SAP; I don't like the use of "runner" this way.
  • [Long gone] clues OF YORE; I started out with NO MORE, again sharing three letters. Hard to unravel that.
  • Who the hell actually eats HAM SALAD sandwiches? This has been in the crossword before, and I just haven't seen it on a menu. Is it a particularly New York kind of [Deli sandwich material]?
  • [Went (off)] is VEERED and [Went off] is ERRED; not wild about the latter clue.
  • [Girl with a future?] is a SEERESS. (1) "Girl"? Not "woman"? (2) SEERESS and ERRED along the bottom row are unexciting.
  • A [Certain Christian] is a UNIATE. No idea what that means; am too sleepy to look it up.
  • [Restaurant business bigwig] is Toots SHOR (Toots!), not Ray Kroc.
  • [Coll. entrance hurdle] is the SAT I test.
  • [Split is both REND and DASHED AWAY. DASHED AWAY feels not quite in-the-language; can we get a ruling from the judges?
  • A [Repeated musical phrase] may seem obstinate: OSTINATO.
  • [It's stuffed with dough] clues FAT WALLET. This one feels odd to me—do you like it as an entry?
  • [Super finish?] is IOR, the end of superior. Meh.
  • A SWAN is not a [Kind of song]. A swan song is a kind of song—a swan is a kind of bird.
  • [Area of interest to Archimedes] is PIRSQUARED, or PI R SQUARED. I'm holding out for a spelled-out quadratic equation.
  • [Zoologist's foot] is PES, though really, that's not the zoologist's foot—it's a beastie's foot. The zoologist herself has just plain feet.
  • SCHAEFER is a [Beer brand since 1842]. Last time I saw a can was in a jigsaw puzzle when I was a kid; the can label/design was clunky and outdated even then.
  • [Prefix with calyx or thalamus] is EPI.
  • No idea what [Song from Bernstein's "Wonderful Town"] is—"IT"S LOVE was pieced together from the crossings.
  • MAFIAS is clued [They have family units]; meh.
  • Never heard of [Gulf of San BLAS (Caribbean sea inlet)]. I have heard of the [West African capital] LOME, next to it. Togo!


Brad Wilber's LA Times themeless crossword is a fun one. The fill spins out from twp 15s that cross in the center square: the FERNWOOD FLASHER, an [Eccentric in the soap parody "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman"], and POISONED CHALICE, a ["Be careful what you wish for" gift]. Is the latter a Snow White reference? The "Mary Hartman" clue didn't really narrow it down much, as about half the characters on the show were eccentrics. (Season 1 is available on DVD.) Each quadrant of the puzzle had stacks of 8- or 9-letter entries. My favorites among them:
  • TALE OF WOE: [Stereotypical country song]
  • ["Pure as the driven slush," in Bankhead's words] for UNCHASTE (Tallulah Bankhead)
  • Golfer MIKE WEIR, [2003 Masters champ]
  • Thomas EAGLETON, [McGovern's 1972 running mate before Shriver]
  • [Spaghetti, perhaps] for SIDE ORDER
  • [Cut back] for ECONOMIZE
  • FLEABAGS, [Run-down hotels]

There were some fun shorter words (or clues for them), too:
  • [Argentine "Hey!" that became a noted nickname] for CHE—interesting trivia bit
  • [Scratch] for the verb CLAW
  • French ETAT ([Louis XIV, to himself?]) crossing ECLAT ([Razzle-dazzle])
  • More names, includign Dave EGGERS and Kato KAELIN
  • CHURL, or [Boor]—I need to use that word more
  • The verb [Race] for TEAR
  • [Stable element?] for HAY
  • Christian Dior's A-LINES cross-referenced with FLARED

Doug Peterson's Newsday "Saturday Stumper" was tough without turning to obscure words. Here are my favorite clues and answers:
  • The makeup cases called COMPACTS are [Foundation holders]—this works for powder or cream foundations, obviously, not for liquid.
  • The noun [Stir] is a SPLASH.
  • I had no idea who the [Groom in '52 headlines] was and tried to think of historical figures—but it's LIL ABNER.
  • The two-word MT. IDA answers [It was sacred to Rhea].
  • FISHPONDS, or [Landscaping options], have a nice SHP pile-up in the middle.
  • Did you know Chicago's Al CAPONE was a [Brooklyn-born bad guy]?
  • [Digital bands] go on the finger: ENGAGEMENT RINGS.
  • Crossword clues like [Hearts, e.g.] often seem to pertain to playing cards, but not this time—they're ORGANS.
  • [Ports, but not harbors] are RED WINES.
  • Larry [Bird, notably] was a Boston CELTIC.
  • [Bean player] means Mr. Bean—Rowan ATKINSON. My kid finds Mr. Bean's antics hilarious.
  • [Pet peeve, perhaps] is a pet peeve for pet owners: SHEDDING. Terrific clue!
  • [Saturn section] has nothing to do with a planet's rings but rather, a rocket's NOSECONE.
  • [Fermion family member] is a PROTON. I've never heard of fermion, but there's Enrico Fermi and the Fermi Accelerator Laboratory, makes sense.
  • [King maker] is mattress manufacturer SERTA.

Sarah Keller's CrosSynergy puzzle is an easy themed one—in "Ladies Last," each theme entry ends with a word that can be followed by lady. NATIVE LAND, or [Country of one's birth], yields a landlady. [Standard file cabinet color] STEEL GRAY produces the Gray Lady, a nickname for the New York Times. HEAD-FIRST, or [Impetuously], yields a First Lady. And the [Travel accessory] called a GARMENT BAG gives a "bag lady," which is a bit of a bummer.