May 31, 2008

Sunday, 6/1

NYT 9:06
LAT 8:17
PI 7:42
BG 7:27
CS 3:27

NYT cryptic (Second Sunday puzzle) 10:40

Sorry that the HaloScan commenting function is out of order as of mid-day Sunday. Grr!

June at last! Chicago finally found solid May weather, just in time to usher us into June, glorious June.

All right, so, this Sunday New York Times crossword by Patrick Berry has such a cool theme, I had to read all eight theme entries to my husband. He laughed out loud at four of them, and had two questions:

"Who wrote those?"
"How does he come up with these??"

"Patrick Berry," I replied. "He's a geeenius."

In the "Extra Syll-uh-bles" theme, an uh sound is added within a word to radically change the phrase's meaning. Here are our favorites:

  • MORALLY SAFER, or [Wiser from an ethical perspective?]. This is a play on 60 Minutes' Morley Safer's name.
  • THE SALIVATION ARMY, or [Fighting force trained by Pavlov?]. Given that Ivan Pavlov's classical conditioning techniques are akin to training, the clue's especially apt. (The base phrase is the Salvation Army, of course.)
  • HUMMABLE BEGINNINGS, or [Catchy song parts heard on "Name That Tune"?]. My god, could that be any apter? The game show did indeed give the catchy and hummable beginning few notes of each song. This one plays on humble beginnings.
  • RENT-A-SENATOR plays the political corruption game, positing a [Store that peddles political influence?]. This one spins off the Rent-a-Center chain.

The other four theme entries are:
  • BUYABLE BELT, [Waistband sold in stores?], Bible Belt.
  • CORONER ON THE MARKET, [Freelance autopsist?], corner on the market. The verb phrase corner the market sounds much more natural to me, but the noun phrase including the on has appeared in an 1896 NYT headline.
  • RIOTING IMPLEMENTS, [Stones and brickbats?], writing implements.
  • RED SKELETON, [Boiled lobster's feature?], Red Skelton.

Because this is a Berry puzzle, there's also much to admire in the fill, and nothing to deplore. Well, OK, we can deplore 9-Down, ["___ the Wanderer" (1820 gothic novel)], MELMOTH. I'm pretty sure I've never heard of that, and not all of its crossings were easy. [Two points?] is a good clue for COLON, but the first O crosses MELMOTH and the C crosses CASS, [Buchanan's secretary of state]. MELMOTH's E crosses LEONES, [West African coins]. At the other end of the grid, HETTY [Sorrel, woman in a love triangle in "Adam Bede"], didn't ring a bell. (My favorite Hetty is Hetty Green, the "World's Greatest Miser." PINSK is a [Belarus port], and Minsk is the capital of Belarus. Fortunately, the map doesn't show any other major Belarussian cities ending in -insk.

Turning away from that gnarly MELMOTH concatenation, look at this good fill:
  • An [Issue to avoid] is a HOT POTATO.
  • [Wellborn folks] are the non-S-plural GENTRY.
  • SARONGS are [Skirts worn by both men and women]. It's a shame most Western cultures don't have men's skirts. So comfy, and cool on a hot day.
  • CLAUDIA, my mother's name, was also [Lady Bird Johnson's given birth name].
  • ERITREA, over there near Ethiopia and Somalia, is a [Country with a camel on its coat of arms].
  • ATTACK DOG? [Its bite is worse than its bark]. I was reading the clue backwards and relied on the crossings to tell me what sort of gentle but noisy dog this might be. (D'oh.)
  • ROSEY, [N.F.L. star Grier] and singer of "It's Alright to Cry."
  • ORANGE! A [Self-descriptive fruit].
  • HANS ARP, [Founding member of the Dadaists], also called Jean Arp.
  • BRING IT ON! Them's [Fighting words].

My favorite nonthematic clue here is [Think that might is right?] for MISREAD. Isn't that one perfect? A few other clues I liked: [It's in the spring] for WATER; [Alibi] for STORY; [Sound of a failure] for THUD; and [They may be big fellers] for SAWS used to fell trees.


This weekend's second NYT Magazine puzzle is a cryptic crossword by Fraser Simpson. Feel free to ask in the comments if you're looking for a hint or an explanation for any of the answers. This puzzle's cluing style didn't much grab me. The clue I liked best was 13-Across, [Power chosen by Rhode Island metropolis]. Chosen = the adjective elect. Rhode Island's abbreviation is RI. A metropolis is a city. Put 'em all together, and you've got some power.

The Across Lite rerun of the Boston Globe crossword for this week is "Laundry List," by the team of Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon. The ennead of theme entries are all puns incorporating laundry-related words. STARCH MADNESS, the [Laundry tournament?], plays on March Madness, for example. And FRANKENSTAIN is a [Monster of a laundry problem?]. Highlights in the fill: JOE BLOW, both PALOMA and PABLO Picasso, and both [Wife of Iago] EMILIA and [Marc Antony's wife] OCTAVIA. Now, the clue [Short, thick smokes] gives us BLUNTS. Wait: Can BLUNTS have tobacco, or are they strictly giant joints? The always helpful Wikipedia explains, "Blunt cigars are often utilized for cannabis smoking."

Updated again Sunday morning:

Patrick Jordan's themeless CrosSynergy "Sunday Challenge" is clued to be easy, but you know what? I really liked it anyway. It gave me the WARM FUZZIES, a ["Feel-good" sensation]. TORNADO WARNINGS, or [Some Weather Channel bulletins], makes for a good, fresh 15. [Due to] is BY DINT OF. The three-word phrase GET AN A, can be tough to parse; I'll bet somebody will Google [Do well in class] and GETANA in search of an explanation.

In Merl Reagle's Philadelphia Inquirer crossword, "Funny Business," Merl dispenses a batch of his trademark puns. This time the theme is punny store names, such as PARAFFINALIA, a [Name for a candle shop?], and THE MERCHANT OF VENUS, a [Name for a sex shop?]. I'm also partial to EVERYBODY LOVES RAIMENT, a [Name for a vintage clothing store?]. There are six other theme entries in the mix. Some of the fill is what only Merl can get away with, such as CABO SAN linked to LUCAS and a 6-letter partial, SO NEAR ["___ and yet..."].

Tom Heilman's syndicated LA Times crossword, "Abutting In," ADDS IN (11-Down) to seven phrases to make something new. Favorite theme entry: [Affair in the mountains?], or HIGH INFIDELITY. The other theme entries are [Completely turned around?] or WELL INVERSED; [Stir up some stoolies?] or INCITE ONE'S SOURCES; [Get upset over nothing?] or INVENT ONE'S ANGER; [Missing the point?] or a DECIMAL INFRACTION; [Do software uploads at a news magazine?] or INSTALL FOR TIME; and [Goal of deep breathing?] or OXYGEN INTENT.