(updated at 10:20 Thursday morning)
Dang. I lost 56 seconds to a typo in the New York Times puzzle by Sheldon Benardo. (The Z in the [Hot strip?] called GAZA and the noun sense of DOZE, or [Siesta], got entered as a neighboring S. D'oh!) The theme plays on "an eye for an eye," changing it to AN EYE FOR AN "I" and altering three phrases that contain the first person singular pronoun so that they have EYEs instead. The theme entries are clued without allusion to the switch:
The EYE/I swap didn't feel particularly satisfying or clever to me, and there were a few things that made me cranky. I have seen [___ light: Var.] for KLEIG before, and it grates. A Klieg light, from the German name Kliegl, would be pronounced "cleeg." Following German pronunciation, the misspelled KLEIG would be "clige" with a long I. ANIGH sounds like "an eye," but its inclusion as [Close, old-style] didn't seem cute at all. Furthermore, both OLEO ([Stick on a dish]) and OLEIN ([Liquid fat]) in the same puzzle? Too close for comfort, etymologically. Two more O*EO answers are here—OREO and OSTEO.
I did enjoy SPONGEBOB, the [Title TV character in Bikini Bottom], opposite DESI ARNAZ, the [1940s-'50s film/TV star with two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame]. My favorite clue was [Washington has some big ones] for EGOS. Isn't it apt to have the clue [One of the "Brady Bunch" kids] immediately followed by [Cold-blooded killers]? (PETER and ASPS.) Clues that may stump folks:
I think Tony Orbach's first themeless was the NYT one with that ill-fated (for me, anyway) CUCHIFRITO/ORFE crossing, and that this New York Sun "Themeless Thursday" is his second. After this one, Tony? All is forgiven. There's much to appreciate:
The [Cyrillic alphabet letter] isn't such a fun clue. The answer is TSE. Wha...? Let us Google. The tse looks like a squared-off U and represents the ts sound. The Wikipedia article says, "Russian words starting with ц, such as tsar, are rare, and almost none of them are of Slavic origin." Did you know that SISTINE means [Pertaining to any of five popes] named Sixtus? I started out guessing LEONINE, which is wrong, wrong, wrong.
Randall Hartman's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Course Objective," sounds like it's got a back-to-school theme, but golf is the star. Four places a golfer might hit the ball begin the theme entries: the GREEN BAY PACKERS, HOLE IN THE WALL, ROUGH AND READY, and BUNKER MENTALITY. The central Down entry is related; TROON, as in the Royal Troon Golf Club, is the [Site of eight British Opens]. The week after that Rosenbaum piece in Slate mocking puzzlers facing down a [Mauna ___] clue, Hartman serves up the complete MAUNA KEA, a [Dormant volcano of Hawaii]. Mauna Loa is active, but quite shallow in slope. Mauna Kea gets its name from the Hawaiian for "white mountain," which I knew (from crosswords!). What I didn't know is that the white is its snowcap in the winter.
Bruce Venzke and Stella Daily's LA Times crossword would've gone over better if I'd been at all familiar with the base phrase lurking behind one of the theme entries. The theme has four phrases that include a metallic element as a word or part of a word, and that element has been replaced by its chemical symbol:
There were some non-theme clues that also kept me wondering until the crossings revealed the answers: [GM's old electronics subsidiary] is DELCO, and JIBE is not just an insult, it's also a [Sailing maneuver]. I figured out the [Decorative alloy] PEWTER easily enough—its elemental makeup is mostly tin with a little copper and antimony (which sounds like it has to do with antipathy and matrimony, or an opposition to alimony).
August 27, 2008