May 21, 2008

Thursday, 5/22

NYS 5:13
LAT 3:58
CS 3:57
NYT 3:40

Richard Silvestri's theme in the New York Times crossword is a little oblique—OMEN at 38-Down can also be parsed as "O men," and the six 9-letter theme entries are names of famous men that include no vowel other than O. There's BJORN BORG, the [Five-time Wimbledon winner]; ROB MORROW, the ["Numb3rs" star] and star of Quiz Show and Northern Exposure; JOHN BROWN, [Harper's Ferry raider]; TOM POSTON, ["Newhart" actor] and husband of Suzanne Pleshette; [Famed restaurateur] of crossword notoriety, TOOTS SHOR; and [Co-star of "The Andy Griffith Show"] and portrayer of Mr. Furley on Three's Company, DON KNOTTS. Thursdayish clues: [Misbehaves] for CUTS UP (not ACTS UP); [Stretches] for AREAS; [Be deceitful] for PALTER; [Catfish Row denizen] for BESS; [Perfect pitch] for a STRIKE in baseball; [Region of Israel: Var.] for NEGEB (hmm, that's a new one on me); [Vesta, Pallas or Hygiea] (which I want to be spelled Hygieia or Hygeia) for ASTEROID; [Orly : Paris :: Gardermoen : ___] for OSLO (airport names : cities); [Athletes on horses] for GYMNASTS, their kind of horse being a stationary piece of equipment; ["Sun Valley Serenade" sar, 1941] for Sonja HENIE; [Classic spy plane] for U-TWO (which, I presume, the military never spells out thus); [Yclept] for NAMED; and [Female whales] for COWS. Old-school fill includes "Dies IRAE," ["Socrate" composer] Erik SATIE, the [Priests' garb] called ALBS, and AROAR ([Bellowing]). (Edited to add: Also TUN, the [252-gallon unit], another word I learned via crosswords.)

Another late addition about the NYT: At the NYT's "Today's Puzzle" forum, native Spanish speaker Zulema wrote this about 2-Down, [Red, as a Spanish wine]:

I'll just begin by saying that before this puzzle goes further into print, the clue has to change. You need to find a subject (or object) that is of feminine gender as ROJA is, and definitely not wine, which beside being a masculine noun, is not ever called ROJO in Spanish but TINTO. Within reds there are CLARETES also, if one wants to get more particular.

How about the color of a torero's cape or a brightly colored rose in Spain, maybe? Notice I did not use the word WRONG, but oh is it!

Tom Heilman made the New York Sun "Themeless Thursday." I am far too sleepy to do it justice tonight. Lots of nice entries peppered with Scrabbly letters. The [President of the American League before Lee MacPhail] drew a complete blank from me—JOE CRONIN is the answer, but I've never heard of either guy and don't know when they served. More in the morning, perhaps—


Here's one other remark about the New York Sun puzzle: [Atomic ___ (Crayola color formerly called Chartreuse)] can't possibly be right. Atomic TANGERINE is a vivid orange, while chartreuse (which I don't remember as a Crayola color—perhaps it launched after my childhood but was replaced before my son's) is a yellow-green color. Crayola might've had atomic tangerine replace chartreuse, but it couldn't have been a new name for the same color. ...And now that I've said all that, I Googled chartreuse crayola and find a Wikipedia claim that Crayola had misnamed an orange-red crayon "chartreuse" between 1972 and 1989. Does anyone remember this? My peak crayon years were in that span, and I sure don't remember that at all. Okay, this link specifies that chartreuse was part of the fluorescent octad, and those ones weren't, I don't think, in the box of 64. What, was Crayola stupid?

Elsewhere in the Sun puzzle, I like the TACO SALAD and Maxwell Smart's SHOE PHONE (my kid's looking forward to the Steve Carell movie remake—and wait, why does my son know the name "Steve Carell"?); the tennis TOPSPIN that is Billie Jean [King's English?], I presume; NIM clued as [___ Chimpsky (chimp in a language experiment)], in the news recently when that talking bird died; [Chalazia] as the plural of chalazion, or STYES (I have a fontanel for medical terminology); [Jettisons] for DEEP-SIXES; CRYING JAG; and [Twist request] for MORE (Oliver Twist's request, not a bar order). Boy, ["The Voice of Bugle ___" (1936 Lionel Barrymore film)] sure is a bizarre clue for ANN, ain't it?

Moving on!

Ray Hamel's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Playing with the Detroit Lions: An Anagram Puzzle," is exactly as billed: The theme entries are anagrams of DETROITLIONS. ["Taxi Driver" star flipped?] is DENIRO LOST IT; [Tested some skin products?] is TRIED LOTIONS; [Dig up a treasure chest?] is DISINTER LOOT; and a [Soggy chip?] is a SILENT DORITO (eww...). (The PRINGLES in the grid have not been made soggy.) A few hits from the crossword past: ZEBU! A [Humped bovine]. SERE! [Like the desert]. Its anagram ERSE! An [Old World language]. OONA! [Geraldine Chaplin's mother]. And TRET! A [Weigh station factor] not to be confused with TARE; I think TRET is more truck-oriented. These were all pretty much gimmes for me—how about you?

Gary Whitehead's LA Times crossword kept me wondering until I reached the southeast corner of the grid and the explanatory entry WINE, or [Cellar supply, judged by the ends of 17-, 31-, 38- and 54-Across]. Those four theme phrases are GUEST APPEARANCE ([Talk show gig]), CROOKED NOSE ([One reason for rhinoplasty]), CLEFT PALATE ([Doc Holliday was born with one]), and SEMI-GLOSS FINISH ([Painter's option]). 1-Across, opposite WINE, is NAPA, an [Apt region for this puzzle]. Not crazy about LATIN I, [Introductory language course], or some of the other fill, but ZEALOTRY looks a lot better in the crossword grid than in the real world.