August 14, 2008

Friday, 8/15

NYS 7:04
NYT 6:19
CHE 5:14
LAT 4:34
CS 3:17

WSJ 10:24

(post updated at 9:30 Friday)

My kid just coined a portmanteau word. Sporting a milk mustache, he announced that he would call it a "milkstache."

Barry Silk's byline has been popping up more often lately. This time, it's the Friday New York Times puzzle. The construction's salient features are five fairly Scrabbly 15-letter entries, one across the middle and four more in stacked pairs. Two Q's, an X, and two K's? Good stuff. More to come on this puzzle after my milkstachioed boy is asleep.

Okay, I'm back. The aforementioned long entries include an EARTHQUAKE ALARM, or [Detector of some potentially dangerous waves]; "ARE YOU DOING OKAY?" or [Question of concern after someone has had a bad experience]; an EXPONENTIAL RATE, or [Rapidly increasing pace]; CIA HEADQUARTERS, or [Where moles might be found] (THE DERMATOLOGIST'S won't fit); and an ATTORNEY GENERAL, or [Creator of big suits?]. The very toughest spots:

  • [Rail part] is a BEAK in that a rail is a kind of bird.
  • ERAT is in plenty of crosswords, but usually clued as part of Q.E.D. and not ["Sicut ___ in principio" (doxology phrase)]. Also from Latin, we have DEO ["___ vindice" (Confederacy motto)].
  • I have zero familiarity with [Sondheim's "Multitudes of ___"]—AMYS. If you ask me, one or two will suffice.
  • [Lumber features] are KNARS.
Other potential snags:
  • [Self-defense, e.g.] is a PLEA.
  • [Arizona's ___ Peak National Observatory] needs KITT to complete it. What, the Knight Rider car, K.I.T.T., is too easy for a Friday puzzle?
  • One [Juvenile development] is ACNE.
  • [Lids around lochs] are hats in Scotland, or TAMS.
  • [Michael who played Cochise on TV] in the 1950s is Michael ANSARA. He was born in Syria and later married Barbara Eden.
  • [Japanese pilgrimage destination] is MT. FUJI. Two answers later is the [Far Eastern affirmative] HAI, "yes" in Japanese.
  • [A famous one begins "How sleep the brave..."] refers to this ODE.
  • [Arab League member] is SUDAN. I had the S and first opted for SYRIA, not even knowing that ANSARA is of Syrian descent.
  • [Town near the D.H. Lawrence Ranch] is TAOS. Did you know D.H. Lawrence had anything to do with the American Southwest? I didn't.
  • [Like curious onlookers] is AGAZE, but AGAPE would work as well.
  • [Words before an attempt] are "HERE GOES..."
  • ONCE MORE is [Over] again.
  • Having ENCARTA as the answer to [Wikipedia alternative] made me laugh. Encarta's site says its encyclopedia has more than 42,000 entries. Wikipedia has more than 2 million.
  • [Soap staple] has me wondering for a while. A VIXEN is a standard type of soap opera character.
  • [You don't say it when you stand] is "HIT ME" in blackjack.
  • OCALA is a boring crossword city, sure, but I like this clue: [City just NE of Citrus County]. Why, I travel to Citrus County once or twice a year! My in-laws live there when they're not in America's Dairyland.
  • I like the play on Man of La Mancha in [Woman of La Mancha]—MUJER, Spanish for "woman."

The New York Sun crossword, 'Which Way Am I Going?," is a joint production from two guys fond of making twisty puzzles, Matt Ginsberg and Pete Muller. This one's a two-way rebus puzzle, with the four corners and the center square containing both UP and DOWN, it seemed—UP for the Across answer, DOWN for the Down. I couldn't for the life of me figure out what Across Lite wanted in the rebus squares—I tried UP, DOWN, UPDOWN, and UD. Then I told it to reveal the correct solution, and it showed me AcrDn in those squares. because guess what? It's an ACROSS and DOWN rebus, not an UP and DOWN one. D'oh! The theme answers are as follows:
  • [Like the U.N. headquarters, from Times Square] is [ACROSS] TOWN.
  • Crossing at the rebus square, [Depressed] means [DOWN]CAST.
  • In the northeast corner, [How the bangs are cut in a Dutch bob] is STRAIGHT [ACROSS]. Yeah, STRAIGHT [UP] made no sense there.
  • It crosses [DOWN]ERS, or [Ludes, e.g.]. Druggy crossword!
  • In the center, LAN[DOWN]ERS are clued with [They have titles], and a [Game with attackmen] is L[ACROSS]E. Not L[UP]E, no. L[ACROSS]E looking like a 3 but having 8 letters is a smart surprise.
  • At the lower left, [General] is [ACROSS] THE BOARD, and to [Fell] is to CUT [DOWN].
  • The final corner has GETS [ACROSS], or conveys, and SETS [DOWN], or [Places].

There's no shortage of yummy bits in this crossword:
  • The ROOT CAUSE of something is its [Origin]. Fresh phrase!
  • OYSTER BARS! That's [Where to order bluepoints]. Did you see the word "blueprints" first?
  • SIESTAS are clued as [Mediodia naps]. Mediodía, I presume, is Spanish for midday.
  • [Rerun's brother in the comics] is LINUS. The only Rerun I could remember was the one from What's Happening on TV.
  • The French phrase DE TROP means [Too much].
  • [Gave credit?] means LENT, if you're a banker in the lending division.
  • [Panegyrizes] means EXTOLS, but I always get the clue word slightly intermingled in my brain with paregoric.
  • [Radar, e.g.: Abbr.] is CPL, because Radar O'Reilly in M*A*S*H was a corporal.
  • [Wedding band, perhaps] is music, not jewelry—could be an OCTET playing at the reception.
  • We get ST. PAT in his shortened form in too many crosswords, so it's a treat to have ST. VALENTINE, the [Winter honoree].
  • ODIN [gave up an eye in exchange for wisdom]. Really? I wonder if Minnesota schoolkids learn more Norse mythology than Illinois kids do.
  • A MAST [passes through a lubber's hole]. Sounds vaguely raunchy.
  • [Title surname in a novel originally published under the name Currer Bell]: super-gimme! It's EYRE. Anne, Charlotte, and Emily Bronte's pseudonyms were Acton, Currer, and Ellis Bell.
  • [Its logo has an arrow pointing down and to the right] refers to gas station SUNOCO. Can you picture it? I thought I could, but this isn't what I was thinking.
  • The MAN BAG, as seen on Friends, is a handy [Metrosexual accessory].
  • [Cosmo alternative] made me think of magazines, but it's a cocktail clue. The answer's G AND T, as in gin and tonic.

Sigh. I can't believe I convinced myself the rebus was UP and DOWN. That solving time includes filling the grid correctly with the exception of having some wrongness in the five rebus squares.


Usually on a Friday morning, I'll start with the LA Times or CrosSynergy puzzle before I move on to the Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, so I was feeling comparatively dim when I forgot I was solving a CHE puzzle. Annemarie Brethauer's "Vice Squad" theme is historical trivia—in particular, the names of the first five U.S. vice presidents. When I see the name GEORGE CLINTON, I think of the seminal funk musician and not the nation's fourth and largely forgotten V.P. There were gnarly spots in the grid—[Fish also called a goggle-eye] is SCAD, even though SHAD's also a fish and SCAD's also a non-fish word. [Full-length] means UNCUT, as in a long movie. BLAINE is [Home to Washington's Peace Arch Park]. In D.C.? No, it's a border town in the state of Washington. Magician David Blaine was willing to appear, but was not asked. There's a [Christmas carol lyricist John Mason] NEALE. Isn't Zora NEALE Hurston much more important academically? [Novelist Marie Louise de la] RAMEE and EMU [oil (emollient used by Aborigines)] were the other mystery spots for me.

Donna Levin's LA Times crossword makes sport of Dutch-related puns:
  • HAGUE GOOD-LOOKIN' is clued with the plural [Netherlands knockouts?]. I guess they are the good-looking of the Hague. (Playing on "Hey, good-lookin', what you got cookin?")
  • Hall and Oates inspire HOLLAND OATS, or [Netherlands nosebag contents]. Do horsey types still use the word "nosebag"?
  • [Netherlands furrier] is THAT DUTCH OF MINK ("that touch of mink"). This one parses weird for me.
  • Gilded lily shifts to GUILDER LILY, an [Inexpensive Netherlands flower]. A guilder is (or was) a Dutch coin.
  • The House of Orange inhabits A CLOGWORK ORANGE (A Clockwork Orange), or [Netherland cobbler's fruit preference?]. Tortured puns have their place, and this crossword is it today.
Favorite fill: the HIBISCUS ([The yellow one in Hawaii's state flower]); SUKIYAKI, the [Japanese one-pot meal]; and the underused word HORRID, or [Repulsive].

Ray Hamel's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Luck of the Draw," is the easiest of today's offerings—I should've started with this one! The four theme entries are clued the same, simply [DRAW]. The four meanings of draw included here are GUNFIGHT COMMAND, DEADLOCKED GAME, MAIN ATTRACTION, and MAKE A COMIC STRIP. Least commonly seen answer: EFFENDI, [Literally, Turkish for "master"].

I had a sneak preview of Tyler Hinman's Wall Street Journal crossword theme a few months ago, and it still took me a good long while to solve the puzzle. In "Two for One," two letters (L and I) get squished together so that they look like one (a U). Tyler came up with eight theme entries in which a phrase that includes LI but can mean something else if the LI bcomes a U. City slickers who [play three-card monte?] are CITY SUCKERS, for instance. An elevator can provide UP SERVICE (lip service being the base phrase). Isn't that nifty? The Down answers that cross the two-for-one squares use the LI, not the U, as in [Barack Obama's home], IL[LI]NOIS.

No time for further blogging 'til tonight—ta ta.