July 18, 2008

Saturday, 7/19

NYT 7:41
LAT 5:53
Newsday 5:25
CS 3:29

Argh! You know when you have a tentative answer in place, and then you change one letter because you get one of the crossing words, and you leave the rest of the letters there, even though MNEA is clearly not a word? (I tagged the [Selective service registrant] as a ONE-A for some reason, but it's a MALE.) I made a few other wrong turns on Todd McClary's New York Times crossword, but managed to erase all the wrong letters when the time came. Like making the [Trattoria offering] into a meatball instead of OSSO BUCO, and [Menacing], that was sadistic instead of SINISTER, and [Exposed] was overt instead of OUTED. I liked the loser mini-theme, YOU CAN'T WIN 'EM ALL and MET ONE'S WATERLOO. But there was an overall vibe of "boy's club" that I found off-putting or, at the very least, not in my wheelhouse:

  • BB GUN is a [Plinking weapon].
  • MS PACMAN was an [Arcade star of the '80s]. A unisex classic, to be sure, but I'm not a fan of video games.
  • RAMPS are [Some pinball targets]. I like pinball all right, but it fits the "pubescent boy's leisure time" theme.
  • RANDA is a baseball player I've never heard of—[Joe ___, ex-Royals third baseman known as the Joker]. Having just seen Dark Knight this afternoon, I have an entirely different and much creepier Joker in my thoughts. I assume Joe Randa's less creepy than Heath Ledger's character, but since I know nothing about him I can't say for sure.
  • BIKINI TOP is technically not a [Cause of some tan lines]. The sun's ultraviolet rays bear the blame for that. No, boys don't generally wear bikini tops, but in the setting of all that other fill, it seemed a little Beavis and Butthead to have it here.
  • T-STOPS are [Braking maneuvers for skaters]. Sure, girls and women skate too, but I had no idea what this answer was going to be.
  • [Recording studio sound shields] are GOBOS? The hell? Never seen the word in my life. I Googled it, and everything I saw suggested it's a lighting thing and not at all a sound thing. Perhaps someone can explain a way the clue's valid? Oh, here we go—definition 1 is a light shield, def 2 is a microphone shield.
  • The teenage boy featured in this puzzle may also be on the debate team (knowing that OPEN FLOOR is a [Debate format]) and enjoy playing STRATEGO ([Game with 40 pieces per side]).

The crossings let me solve everything correctly, but it's not a good feeling to have two nouns and a name that are 100% unfamiliar to me. Are T-STOPS, GOBOS, and RANDA quite gettable for you, or were you also wondering what these random letter sequences were doing in place of actual words?

Favorite clues:
  • [Hero/giant created by Rabelais] for GARGANTUA—yay, literary reference!
  • [Sugarhouse stuff] is SAP, as in maple sap used to make tasty, tasty maple syrup. I never saw the word sugarhouse before, but I'd like to move in if that's all right with you.
  • [Its logo features a globe on a table] for MENSA. Mensa is Latin for "table," my high-school German teacher taught us. He was a creep who married a former student, but he taught us more about diagramming sentences than our English teachers ever did.
  • [Snowy locale of song] is OLD SMOKEY. I prefer the "On Top of Spaghetti" parody.
  • [Navigation figure] is LATITUDE, figure meaning a number rather than a person here.
  • [Quarter image] is a BALD EAGLE, obviously. And yet...I had a hard time thinking beyond George Washington and all the state quarters.
  • [Drug store?] is a STASH of drugs.
  • Thomas NAST, famed political caricaturist of yore, was the [Creator of 1867's "Grand Caricaturama"].
  • [Had an uneventful day] is SAT. Although...in the NYT crossword forum today, a poster boasted that she'd finally been able to sit up after four weeks flat on her fractured back. Sometimes sitting makes for a most eventful day!

Slow spots:
  • [Noah's grandson] is MAGOG. Is that Gog's brother or what?
  • [Operatic tenor Vickers] is named JON. 
  • [Language group including Hebrew] is CANAANITE.
  • [Rosa damascena product] is ATTAR, of course! Never saw the term in the clue before, but **TA* + something about roses = ATTAR.
  • What makes [Lies along the waterfront?] YARNS? I'm thinking that sort of lie is more a fish tale.


Yikes! I need to get moving here—am going to Wisconsin for the weekend, leaving later this morning, and I haven't packed at all. Must use blogular brevity!

In Patrick Blindauer's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Getting Quiet," the theme entries' original phrases take on a "SH." Thus, a roller rink becomes a ROLLER SHRINK, or [Skating psychiatrist?]. That was my favorite theme entry, with the SHRED ALERT (["Quick! Rip up the documents!"]) a close second. [Pre-flood ancestor of Jaws?] is NOAH'S SHARK, and [Bailiff's cry?] is SHOUT OF ORDER.

Barry Silk's themeless LA Times crossword was pretty smooth, but put up a fight in spots. Things I didn't exactly know:
  • [August commemoration that's a R.I. state holiday] for V.J. DAY.
  • [Arrives at home, e.g.] is SCORES. I started out with SLIDES, so I was on the right basepath.
  • [Route through Brooklyn and Queens] is the BELT PARKWAY.
  • [Letters on some three-pt. vocal music] is SAB. Soprano, alto bass?
  • [Princess Juliana Intl. Airport site] is the island of ST. MARTIN.
  • [Particle that causes secondary ionization] is DELTA RAY. Meh.
  • [Soprano Marton] is EVA. Hey, maybe she knows about SAB.

Favorite clues: [Took in a poor boy?] for ATE a sandwich; [Sierra Nevada unit] for a BEER BOTTLE; [There's a lot of junk in it] is SNAIL MAIL; [They're paid for services] for SALARIES; and [Penn and others] are IVIES, as in Ivy League schools.

Merle Baker's Newsday "Saturday Stumper" is the easiest Stumper in weeks, thanks to a more workable batch of crossings for the answers I wasn't going to get based on their clues. The tougher bits included:
  • [Oregon, since 1992] for BLUE STATE.
  • [Revokes, as a legacy] for ADEEMS. I don't think I've seen this one in any recent puzzles, but it's a word I know from crosswords.
  • [Rossini works] are ARIETTE. I first guessed that Italian plural was an I, but it's not.
  • [Cowboy's NFL Hall of Famer] is RENFRO. The late actor Brad Renfro's the only Renfro in my memory banks.
  • [Spot without over-the-air TV service] is a WHITE AREA. The term's new to me. Any of you live in a white area? Where are these white areas?
  • [One charged] a fee or fine is an ASSESSEE. One charged with a crime is something else.
  • The verb [House] can mean to STOW something.
  • [Baloney] is TRUMPERY. Coincidentally, many of Donald Trump's non-business remarks qualify as trumpery.
  • [Geologist's tool] is the geologic TIME SCALE, which is not a scale on which they weigh things.
  • [1950, in other words] is TEN TO, 1950 being equivalent to 7:50 p.m.
  • [Singer Adams] is OLETA. Who?