May 02, 2008

Saturday, 5/3

Newsday 8:05*
LAT 5:52
NYT 5:03
CS 4:03

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Hey! What unexpected fun! I mean, sure, I generally expect a Saturday New York Times crossword to be something I enjoy, but a gimmick theme in lieu of a themeless puzzle is a surprise. Patrick Berry still kept the word count to a themeless-level 72, but there are six short theme entries in which a word's replaced by the letter that sounds like it. For consistency, each theme entry ends with an S. The theme entries are:

  • [Nectar collectors] or HONEY BS (bees)
  • [Soup vegetables] or SPLIT PS (peas)
  • [Cunning in a practical way] or STREET-YS (wise)
  • [Recuperative drinks] or HERBAL TS (teas)
  • [Two, in a way] or SNAKE IS (eyes)
  • ["Mutiny on the Bounty" locale] or SOUTH CS (Seas)

Favorite clues:
  • [Slate alternative] for TILE; I went with TIME magazine at first rather than the flooring.
  • [Interestingly folded sheet] for ORIGAMI. I just saw a set of Flickr photos demonstrating how to fold a fitted sheet the other day.
  • [Still O.K. financially] for AFLOAT—and no, "O.K." doesn't signal an abbreviation because it's not an abbreviation.
  • [Right-leaning, you might say] for ITALIC.
  • [Heads] for TOILETS. Toilets! Usually the can has to be British to make it into the crossword.
  • [Ill-tempered] for ORNERY. Sometimes I am ornery. Especially if something must [Consternate], or DISMAY, me.
  • [Game played on a sloping field] for PINBALL.
  • [Goal-oriented grp.] for hockey's NHL.
  • [How one might stare into space] salvages EMPTILY—rather clunky words can be redeemed with the right clue.
  • [Amount expressed in K] is one's SALARY.

Clues whose answers I didn't know:
  • [Richard's love in "Bleak House"] for ADA
  • [Stinger?] is SALT. Why is that, do you suppose? I've got a mental block with understanding this one.
  • [Dead Sea scrolls material] is LEATHER? The crossings were fine, but...LEATHER? Not, say, papyrus? I had no idea.
  • The ["Where Have All the Leaders Gone?" author] is Lee IACOCCA. I don't recognize the book title, but a book with "leaders" in the title and an author starting with IA? Who else could it be?
  • CLEMSON is [Where William {the Refrigerator] Perry played college football]. Aw, why is the "college" part in the clue? Would it really be too mean to trick people into writing CHICAGO down here?


Brad Wilber's LA Times puzzle features a few titles. [Work that begins "Hail...blithe spirit!"] is Shelley's "TO A SKYLARK"; [Anne Tyler novel set partly at the Church of the Second Chance] is SAINT MAYBE; and the [1990 #1 rap hit] is the zero-rap-cred"ICE, ICE BABY." Favorite answers: REPLY HAZY, the [Magic 8-Ball words]; ACT FIVE, or [When "Alls Well That Ends Well Ends"], as a change from the usual Roman numeral acts; and SAL SODA, promoted beyond [__ soda] cluing with [Grease-dissolving cleanser], teaching me a fact about sal soda that might be used in a clue some day. I'm not crazy about another ENZO (["La Gioconda" tenor]); the [Siberian city established under Boris Godunov], or TOMSK (not to be confused with Russian city OMSK, which is not to be confused with Russian city OREL, which is not to be confused with Utah town OREM), or MEL clued as [Allen in the Radio Hall of Fame] (I swear I've never heard of him—and here's why. Yankees play-by-play? Pfft).

Stan Newman, using the "S.N." byline, constructed today's Newsday "Saturday Stumper." I thought I finished the puzzle in 8:05, but the asterisk is there because there was that one square I left blank but didn't notice. It's at the intersection of [MG F alternative] and ["Iliad" goddess]. I should've guessed that MIA*A was best filled with a T, but "MG F" didn't really shout "sports car" at me, and of all the clever ways to clue ATE, this way is just difficult. Favorite clues: [Invention patented in 1858] for MASON JAR (once you get enough crossings, it makes perfect sense, doesn't it?); [Captain Hook, for one] for ETONIAN (that's a new on on me!); [Word on some Euro coins] for SUOMI, or Finland; [Money from music] for EDDIE Money; Isaac Bashevis [Singer's tongue] for YIDDISH; [Literally, "resplendent land"] for SRI LANKA (geography + etymology!); ["Sorry"] for NOPE (pretty much the theme of missteps while solving this puzzle...); [Site of the World Islands] for DUBAI (here's an illustration of the man-made archipelago); speaking of islands, BIMINI is a [Pre-Columbian name for Florida], apparently, though it's not an easy factoid to track down; and a SARI is a [Dravidian outfit] (not to be confused with the R-less Branch Davidian sect). [Scouts, often] are TENTERS? Meh. TENTERS is an inelegant word. One last question about this puzzle before I head out this morning: Why is a MAP a [Face, so to speak]?

Mel Rosen's CrosSynergy crossword, "Supersize It!", has a quip theme: YOUR EYESIGHT / IS GOING WHEN YOU / NEED LARGE-PRINT / ALPHABET SOUP. I am not crazy about quip themes, as regular readers know.