June 17, 2008

Wednesday, 6/18

LAT 12:42
NYS 8:54
NYT 7:17
CS 6:25

Okay, I know what you're thinking. "Oh my God -- someone call 911! Orange has obviously fallen on her head and lost the ability to solve crossword puzzles!" Don't fret. Orange is off enjoying some quiet time for a few days. And I mean quiet like very little Internet access and no television in her room. Makes me hyperventilate just thinking about it. In the meantime, you're stuck with me, PuzzleGirl. Let's just try to make the most of it, okay? Obviously it takes me quite a bit longer than Orange to solve the puzzles so I just hope my kids don't expect me to, ya know, pay attention to them, make them food, take them places -- stuff like that, for the next few days. Onto the puzzles....

Alan Olschwang's New York Sun puzzle, "Atom," has some fun long answers:

  • [The Golden Globe lifetime achievement award is named after him] is CECIL B. DEMILLE. I was poking around on imdb.com yesterday looking at some awards stuff and came across this fact, so it was a gimme for me today. Speaking of gimme....
  • ["Mamma Mia!" song] is GIMME GIMME GIMME. How do I not know this song? I clicked over to YouTube to find it, expecting that once I heard it I'd go "Oh THAT Gimme Gimme Gimme." But no. Never heard it. Maybe because it's … not a great song.
  • [Peggy Parish protagonist] is AMELIA BEDELIA. My 7-year-old daughter read the part of Amelia Bedelia in a school read-aloud play and tells me she is very funny. When Mrs. Rogers tells her to dress the chicken, Amelia puts clothes on it. And that's where my daughter says she had the opportunity to use expression: "You told me to dress the chicken! So I dressed the chicken!"
Okay, this is embarrassing but it's definitely not the first time and I'm sure it won't be the last, so I'm just going to own up to it: I have no idea how the title relates to the puzzle. I'd be grateful if someone would please explain it in the comments for those of us who are clearly not smart enough to keep up with Peter Gordon. (It's not just me, right?) Thanks.

Other interesting stuff: [It has two lameds in its name] is the Israeli airline EL AL. The lamed, Wikipedia informs me, is the 12th letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Thank goodness for crosses with two ungettable (for me anyway) names right next to each other. [2005 NBA Rookie of the Year _____ Okafor] is EMEKA and [2003 Peace Nobelist Shirin _____] is EBADI. Note to self: memorize Peace Nobelists. Seems like I DIG [Beatnik's expression of understanding] has been popping up quite a bit recently. I can't see a reference to beatniks without picturing Mike Myers in "So I Married an Axe Murderer." Nice echo in a couple clues: [Guy's female friend], meaning Guy like a French guy named Guy, leads to AMIE. Later in the puzzle, [Guy's female friend], referring to just any old ordinary guy, leads us to GAL. Nice.

In the New York Times puzzle, Adam Fromm added the letter L to some familiar phrases to come up with some amusing entries. [Appetizer, entrée or dessert?] is DINNER PARTLY, [Bonbon and how it should be divvied up?] is SUGAR PLUM FAIRLY, and [Doubting apostle? Not by a long shot!] is THOMAS HARDLY. So I hate to make this blog all about me right on the first day and all, but wow! Lots of gimmes for me today. I grew up in North Dakota so Lawrence WELK, [Lawrence of the North Dakota Hall of Fame], was a no-brainer. And does anybody remember that 80's band the Jets? The band, which had a couple of hits in "You Got It All" and "Crush on You," was made up of brothers and sisters in a large Mormon family (at least they all claimed to be brothers and sisters -- I had my doubts, but that's not really important). Before they hit the big time, such as it was, they performed poolside at a Holiday Inn in Moorhead, Minnesota, every weekend, where they were called the Polynesian Pearls. After the Polynesian show, which featured their mother singing and I'm pretty sure one of the boys ate fire at some point, the kids would come back out and sing covers for the rest of the night. I lived in the next town over at the time and I'm not really sure how it started, but a friend and I were there to see them pretty much every weekend. We got to know them and I even sang with them a few times if you can believe that (I can't). So that's a pretty long story just to tell you that they were originally from TONGA, an [Archipelago known as the Friendly Islands], which comes up in crosswords from time and time and makes me think of them fondly. And now that I've babbled on so long about, basically, nothing, I'll leave it to all of you to discuss the puzzle in the comments.


Doug Peterson's LA Times puzzle offers some fun wordplay:

[Good place for a split] = STOCK MARKET PAGE
[Bad place for a split] = BOWLING ALLEY
[Good place for a split] = SODA FOUNTAIN
[Bad place for a split] = SEAT OF ONE'S PANTS

I love starting off with a gimme at 1 Across. I've been doing some work for a RABBI [Temple leader] the last couple days so the word was right there for me. Unfortunately, as you can tell from my time, everything pretty much fell apart after that. I spent the last two minutes or so on the Northeast corner where I couldn't get "Here Comes the Judge" out of my head, though the puzzle wanted ["Here Come the COEDS": 1945 college comedy]. SO AM I ["Likewise"] was overshadowed by ditto, me too, and same here. [Little, in Livorno] was looking for POCO. Livorno is, of course, not in France so peu and petite were getting me nowhere.

Other stuff: For [Lovey-dovey letter] I was searching my brain for a word that I still haven't been able to come up with. It's a strange word, it means "love letter" but doesn't seem like it should mean "love letter." Anyone? I'm glad it wasn't that word though, because MASH NOTE is pretty fun. I had a friend once who referred to "making out" as "mashing." Me: "Did you have fun last night on your date?" Her: "Yeah. We mashed." I know that [Calgary's prov.] is ALTA but, seriously. What's up with that abbreviation? Shouldn't there be a B or an R in there somewhere? I also liked seeing the reference to the ARK [Place of refuge] today. I thought we were going to need one here in Iowa these last few days.

The theme of Sarah Keller's CrosSynergy puzzle today is HEAD START [School readiness program and a hint to this puzzle's theme]. All the theme answers start with words that can precede the word HEAD to make another familiar word.

[Touchy topic, so to speak] = HOT POTATO =>HOTHEAD
[Smack-dab in the middle] = DEAD CENTER =>DEADHEAD
[Inflatable sleeping surface] = AIR MATTRESS => AIRHEAD
[High-speed transporter] = BULLET TRAIN =>BULLETHEAD
[Seamstress's accessory] = PIN CUSHION => PINHEAD

There's another kind of HEAD that would have been funny to include, but I guess this is a family show. I hadn't heard of "7 Faces of DR. LAO" [1964 title role for Tony Randall]. Wikipedia tells me that in that film, Tony Randall "also appears as Pan, Apollonius of Tyana, a borderline-senile Merlin and even Medusa and the Abominable Snowman." Talk about range. BRAGS, [Toots one's own horn], reminded me of Dizzy Dean's line: "It ain't bragging if you can do it." I said that to my sister one time and I recall she responded with, "Except that, well, yeah, it is." Interesting that BETTE is pronounced two different ways to fit the clue, [Midler or Davis]. Happy to see the [1992 presidential also-ran] Ross PEROT in the puzzle. He's from Texas, you know.