July 23, 2008

Thursday, 7/24

NYS 5:15
LAT 4:45
NYT 4:01
CS 3:01

(post updated at 1:25 p.m. Thursday)

Matt Ginsberg is back with another New York Times crossword, this time taking the Jacqueline Susann novel ONCE IS NOT ENOUGH as the starting point. [...The problem with some of the answers in this puzzle] is that once is not enough—that the first word needs to be used a second time in order to be correct. DUM BULLETS are [Hollow-point projectiles]? No, dumdum bullets are. A [Mutually beneficial interaction] should be a win-WIN SITUATION. The [Puerto Rican-born P.G.A. star] is Chi CHI RODRIGUEZ. And the [Child's fair-weather wish] is the sing-songy "Rain, RAIN, GO AWAY, come again another day." With some 8- and 9-letter answers in the fill and a total word count of 72, there's a Thursdayish touch of themelessness—but then, the theme square count is a hearty 69. Clues and answers of note:

  • ALEX and HALEY are cross-referenced as the full name of the [writer of "The Autobiography of Malcolm X"].
  • Holy schnike, Leonhard EULER is clued as the [Originator of the equation e to the power (pi * i) + 1 = 0]. Wikipedia tells me that's called "Euler's identity," and it's frightfully popular among math geeks, some of whom apparently have a crush on the equation.
  • I like the words [Bazaar] and EMPORIUM. So much pleasanter than, say, "strip mall" or "big box store."
  • CROSSE is a [Roughly triangular racket]. Is this about lacrosse or some other crosse-bearing sport?
  • I misread [Follows temporally] as [Follows temporarily], fresh on the heels of reading Ben Zimmer's Language Log post about exactly that conflation. (Click through to see photos of entertainingly wrong signs.) The answer is POSTDATES. 
  • THE is an [Order at a French restaurant] if you add an acute accent: thé is French for "tea."
  • "MY, MY" is clued as ["Really!"]. Wait, what's this doubled-word business? No soup for you!
  • [Synthetic] could be FAKE, FAUX, MOCK, SHAM—or MADE, as opposed to natural.
  • I love seeing OXBOWS ([River bends]) from up in a plane.
  • [Like a leopard] is simply FELINE, not spotted or wild or predatory anything else.
  • [Incense resin] is ELEMI, not to be confused with the Nicholas Gage book/John Malkovich movie Eleni.
  • The opposites WELL-TO-DO and DIRT-POOR are clued as [Rich] and [Impoverished], respectively.
  • FLYNN gets a non-Errol clue: [One of the Mudville players on base when the mighty Casey struck out].
  • The verb [Dice, say] means CHOP.
  • [Preschoolers?] are fish ROE, not yet in a school of fish.
  • [Mass dismissals] are PURGES. Of what or whom, I don't know.
  • [Duke Atreides in "Dune"] is LETO. I haven't the foggiest idea why.
  • [___ Weasley of Harry Potter books] could be Ron or his older brothers, whose names I forget, as well as his younger sister GINNY, who...no, no spoilers here.

Mark Sherwood's New York Sun puzzle is called "Location! Location! Location!" because location is key. Each theme entry removes a preposition and conveys its meaning by way of words' location. The [1953 Ira Levin novel] A Kiss Before Dying is presented as A KISS DYING—A KISS before DYING. The opposite of before is after, and Dog Day Afternoon ([1975 film set at the First Brooklyn Savings Bank]) is NOON DOG DAY—DOG DAY after NOON. The Down theme entries are MIND MATTER, or MIND over MATTER, a [Phenomenon exhibited by psychokinesis], and GROUND WENT, or WENT underGROUND, clued as [Disappeared, maybe]. In the grid's center is HACUTLF, or CUT in HALF—[Divided fifty-fifty]. I do like this theme a lot—a batch of wacky wordies, sort of, amid our crossword.

Favorite clues and answers and other items of note:
  • [Six-pack abs?] might be a BEER GUT. Heh. Good one.
  • GETS MAD clued as [Sees red]; the E-heavy SEES RED shows up in the grid more often, so moving it to the clue is fresher.
  • [White, in a way] can mean ANGLO or SNOWY depending on which part of the crossword you're in.
  • [Eating right?] means the rightmost part of the word "eating," or the letter GEE. The wording seems a big clunky to me.
  • CADGES means the verb [Bums], as in "bums a ride."
  • ["Help!" is one] clues an OLDIE, because that Beatles song is an oldie.
  • Potty humor: a LATRINE is [Head of the army?], "head" being slang for toilet.
  • Did anyone else want to squeeze ACTION into four spaces for the [1997 film title character surnamed Jackson]? It's Peter Fonda's ULEE the beekeeper.
  • I don't know a thing about TESS, the ["Murder by Death" character Skeffington]. Google will help me: It's a Neil Simon whodunit spoof, and Eileen Brennan played the role in question.
  • Baseball, schmaseball: TAKE is the [Third base coach's sign when the count is 3-0, typically].
  • [Glabrous] means SMOOTH, as in hairless skin. "My, your palms are glabrous."
  • MIT is clued as ["21" sch.] because the movie 21 features characters who are MIT students.
  • Corn's [Middle ear?] is the COB.
  • [Speedo product] ain't just teeny swim briefs—they also make GOGGLES.
  • Vague one-word clues starting with P: [Pull] can mean CLOUT, and [Paw] can be your DADDY.
  • [Peer group?] are EYES that peer. Meh.
  • I'm usually pretty good at the Filipino geography that shows up in crosswords, but Cagayan de ORO, a provincial capital of the Philippines? Had no idea. Wikipedia tells me "de Oro" was added in 1950.


Wow, Don Gagliardo's LA Times crossword has a lot of out-there answers and clues. The five theme entries are linked by the clues, which are all "___ line" phrases; the answers are spoken lines that might be associated with the ___ setting.
  • [Railroad line?] is the conductor's line, ALL ABOARD.
  • [Fishing line?] is the angler's exaggeration, IT WAS THIS BIG.
  • [Tag line?] is YOU'RE IT in a game of tag.
  • [Party line?] is TOGA! TOGA! TOGA! in the movie Animal House, most notably.
  • [Time line?] is MY, IT'S LATE.

[Box behind a painting, maybe] is a wall SAFE. This could be targeted by a THIEF, who might be described as [One taking things badly?]. I like this pair of clues. People in the grid include Phoebe CATES, ["Fast Times at Ridgemont High" actress]; LUISE [Rainer who won back-to-back Oscars]; [German fantasy novelist Michael] ENDE of The Neverending Story; actor ERNEST Borgnine (why wasn't he on Star Trek? The Borg, Seven-of-Nine, Borgnine...seems like a natural fit); Buddy EBSEN, a [Clampett player] on The Beverly Hillbillies; [Noted shoe collector] IMELDA Marcos; [Conductor friend of pianist Vladimir] is ARTURO Toscanini (Vladimir Horowitz married Toscanini's daughter); ["Dracula" director Browning] is named TOD, and he's the go-to one-D TOD in crosswords; and LOU Gehrig was a [Teammate of the Babe].

The oddball or obscurely clued stuff is as follows:
  • Mystery materials! [Golf ball covering] is BALATA, and [Matted woolen sheet] is BATT. There's also [Kid stuff] for SUEDE—common material, but a tricky clue.
  • ["M*A*S*H" ranks] is LTS, short for lieutenants. Now, I remember Major Houlihan, Captain Pierce, and Colonel Potter, and Radar was a corporal. I suspect the clue was chosen for its abbreviated nature, because lieutenants don't come readily to mind when I think of the TV series.
  • [In-state opponent of a 'Cane] is a NOLE. This one's new to me; I presume it's Florida's Seminoles and Hurricanes.
  • A MODEM is a [Digital interpreter] in some way.
  • OSAKA is clued as [Yodo River city], and that Yodo part didn't shout out "Japanese geography" to me.
  • The [Sugar Plum Fairy's instrument] is the CELESTA. Also from the world of music is YESTERME, [Beginning of a 1969 Stevie Wonder title] that rings no bells for me.
  • [Snippy retort] is "IS SO." A further slide down the slippery slope of "AM SO," "DO TOO," "ARE NOT" playground retort category of fill.

Randall Hartman's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Tiny Baubles," gathers three phrases that start with synonyms for "tiny." There's the [2000 Woody Allen movie], SMALL TIME CROOKS, a MINIATURE POODLE, and the LITTLE RIVER BAND. The latter is clued as ["Cool Change" rockers], and I don't remember that song at all. I still like "Reminiscing," though that video is an odd one. My favorite clue: [Speed reader?] for a traffic cop's RADAR. I wish I understood why PRINT is the answer to [Not stick to the script?]—anyone?