July 19, 2008

Sunday, 7/20

NYT 9:58
PI 7:58
BG 7:31
CS 4:04
LAT untimed

I may or may not be able to get to the other Sunday puzzles. I'm at my in-laws' using Dad's PC, and it seems like it would be rude to download Across Lite onto someone else's machine. I've got AL on my laptop, but there's no wireless in the house and I'd have to go around the corner to the lounge at the gas station. (Curses! Should've pre-loaded Across Lite files on the laptop before I left home.) If Ben and his cousins resume shrieking like particularly energetic banshees like they were while I was solving the NYT crossword, though, I just might run away from home and go to the BP.

If anyone else feels like stepping in and writing at length about the other crosswords in the comments, please don't hesitate! Kick off that conversation if you'd like to.

Barry Silk's Sunday New York Times crossword is called "Across the Board" and the board in question is a chessboard. There are circled squares in the theme entries, and those circled squares spell out the KING, QUEEN, PAWN, KNIGHT, ROOK, and BISHOP as well as CHESS, the game that features these pieces. Listen, I'm used to having two visible windows open, one with the blogging screen and one with the puzzle. I don't know the ins and outs of Windows machines so I have no idea how to get a screen capture of my solution grid. And I printed out the applet page, but that lacks a full list of clues, and the screen's not big enough to show me two windows at once. (Grumble, mumble.) Moving on: The full theme entries are unrelated--they're just here to contain the chess words. Was there a clue somewhere that wrapped them all up in a bow? If so, I missed it during the banshee recital.

Interesting entries and those that might be a tad obscure:

  • SKIRR is to [Go rapidly]. I'm not sure in what setting.
  • DUANE EDDY with the full-name treatment. He's the ["Forty Miles of Bad Road" guitarist].
  • OTWAY is the ["Venice Preserved" dramatist Thomas]. Hmm, my college curriculum didn't include this. I have no idea what era it's from.
  • OBOLS are [Ancient Greek coins]. Am I the only one who puts OBOLI when a crossword is looking for OBELI, just because years of doing crosswords have plunked the obol firmly in some part of the brain? This answer crosses SMEWS, or [Eurasian ducks]--a word I've known from crosswords as long as I've known the OBOL. SMEWS crosses SNEES, [Bygone blades] or old-timey daggers--still another crossword stalwart we don't see as often these days.
  • OPERE [___citato] is a Latin phrase that means something along the lines of "work cited." In bibliographies, it's abbreviated as op. cit., isn't it? Specific explanation welcome in comments.
  • TOE TO TOE means [In direct opposition]. I pondered MAN TO MAN before the toes wiggled themselves.
  • CHINESE MUSTARD is one of the theme entries (with CHESS spaced out within its letters). It's clued as [Egg roll topping, perhaps]. Without reading the clue but having a lot of crossings, I made it CHINESE CUSTARD, which probably would not much enhance an egg roll.
  • SUMOS is clued as ["Super Duper ___" (anime series)]. I've got zero familiarity with this show.
  • OBVERT is a weird-looking word. It's clued [Flip over], as in "flip over a coin to see the obverse." You can also flip over something you really like, so there's a hint of mislead to the clue.
  • PASHA remains my favorite of the Mideastern honorifics. It's clued as a ["Doctor Zhivago" role], and I don't know whether it's a Turkish sort of pasha or a Russian named Pasha.
  • LIMAOHIO looks like a dreadful internet abbreviation. "Laughing in my ass off hilariously in opinion"? Actually, it's LIMA, OHIO, a [City 70 miles SSW of Toledo].

My favorite clue is [Flies over the Equator] for TSETSES. Lame ol' answer, salvaged by a tricky clue--I always appreciate that approach. It's too much of a hassle to toggle back and forth between windows to find other good clues, so that's all I've got tonight. (Windows and Explorer, grr.) Feel free to give a shout-out to your favorites in the comments, though.

Updated late Sunday night:

Many thanks to Tony Orbach for stepping up to comment-blog about Rich Norris's CrosSynergy "Sunday Challenge." Lots of good fill and fun clues, as Tony said. No point repeating what Tony said, is there? Yep, it's all there in the comments.

Thanks to Joon, too, for comment-blogging the syndicated LA Times Sunday crossword by Ray Hamel. I solved this one in the Milwaukee newspaper, so I don't have a screen-grab for you. I guess the constructor needed another 10, so the MORSE entry wasn't Samuel, telegraph inventor, or Robert, star of "Tru" on stage, but BARRY MORSE, whose name was completely unknown to me. I dunno—this sort of theme, the "last word can precede the word ___ in established phrases" thing, is a little arid on a Monday. I don't know that it's got enough zip to carry a Sunday puzzle. SNICKERS BAR is terrific, but most of the other "___ code"-based theme entries left me uninspired.

Merl Reagle's Philadelphia Inquirer puzzle this week is called "Q and A, Sort Of." The theme entries all complete various sarcastic questions, such as "What are you waiting for, AN INVITATION?" and "What are you, AN EXPERT ALL OF A SUDDEN?" Rows 3 and 4 and rows 18 and 19 of this puzzle are filled with stacked theme entries, which is cool. Overall, the fill didn't do much for me, but I enjoyed some of the clues a lot—[Waits onstage?] is singer TOM Waits, ["Happy colon" dishes] are SALADS (blowing the breakfast test out of the water), and [Run out of clothes?] for STREAK. The last square I filled in was the intersection between the [Flagstaff sch.] and [Point]. NAU, I'm guessing, is short for Northern Arizona University, and point and USE are equivalent in the "What's the point/use?" sense. Sure, guessing a U for the end of an abbreviated school is often a safe bet, but the I was blanking on the [Point]. [Actress Lee] is RUTA? She has a website, but I still don't recognize her. Apparently she used to be a regular on some game shows.

Henry Hook's Boston Globe rerun crossword in Across Lite, "A Case of the DTs," changes a word's final D sound to a T sound. "Wide-open spaces" become a crossword's WHITE OPEN SPACES, for example. Plenty of interesting fill in this grid—the verb ATTRIT, clued as [Reduce the enemy's numbers]; JIM BOB Walton; SLOVAK; Robert BROWNING, a reporter's FIVE W'S, the KLIBAN cats. There was one word that jumped out as an oddity—GRUE, or [Shudder, to Scots]. That word may be obsolete, but it lives on in gruesome.