September 04, 2008

Friday, 9/5

NYS 9:00
NYT 6:17
LAT 4:28
CHE 4:10
CS 2:41

WSJ 8:32

(updated at 10:15 a.m. Friday)

Am I coming down with a cold? I hope not. Maybe it's allergies, even though I suffer from seasonal allergies only when in England? I said to myself, "Self, just in case it's allergies, you should try an antihistamine." Well! I was sleepy already (went to the store to buy bread...forgot bread), but with a Benadryl in me? Considerably more so. "Self, you may be too tired to blog about both the NYT and Sun crosswords tonight. You should get ahead by doing that Sun puzzle early and get half of the post drafted."

And so it came to pass that I solved Byron Walden's New York Sun "Weekend Warrior" and had it take considerably longer than the last "W.W." Is it just me, or is it really among the hardest handful of crosswords this year? These ones were my favorite parts:

  • "OH, YEAH" is the goofy [Yello song heard in the closing credits of "Ferris Bueller's Day Off"]. Here's the video.
  • RUSTLE means to [Grab someone's else head?]—of cattle.
  • A [Locale of a rank with medallions] is a CAB STAND. Readily available taxis are one of the things I love about dens city living.
  • [Stuff, e.g.] is a LAD MAG. Anyone else approach this one with the LAD in place and think of lading?
  • EGADS gets a clue I've never seen before: [___ button (malfunctioning missile destroyer].
  • Medical knowledge! I didn't know that the [Disease for which riluzole received FDA approval in 1995] was ALS, but I know how to spell Lou Gehrig's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. (It starts with "amy.")
  • A recent [Brad Pitt title role] is JESSE JAMES. Anyone see the movie? Speaking of good-lookin' guys, Ty TREADWAY is the [TV host whose first name is spelled by the first and last letters of his surname].
  • [Hardware acronym] had me thinking of hardware stores and DIY (do-it-yourself), but it's computer hardware and ROM.
  • I'm still waiting for SNARK to be clued slangily rather than literarily, as a Lewis [Carroll creature].
  • I saw the movie, sure, but that didn't stop me from entering RAY for the [Romano who voiced Linguini in "Ratatouille"]. It's the less-known LOU Romano, though. (Ray did cartoon voice work for the Ice Age movies.)
  • PENCIL IN looks too much like PENICILLIN with no word space. It means to [Enter tentatively] on your calendar.
  • [Hung cover?] refers to William Hung, the young man with the dreadful cover of the song "SHE BANGS" on American Idol.
  • SKUNKY means [Foul-tasting], like beer that has gone just plain bad.

Odd stuff includes PENSTOCK, a [Pipe to a waterwheel], and ROSIN with a mystifying clue, [Soldering flux material]. Now, I took a metalsmithing class in college, and we soldered with little strips of solder and a drop of flux, but I don't recall getting any details about what the flux was made of. Apparently ROSIN is used with tin; I worked with copper.

I'm rambling now. I'm tired. I'll set this to post automatically, and we'll see if I'm still awake at NYT crossword time.


Dammit! I had written four paragraphs this morning, and Blogger just ate them all. Summary: Went to bed at 8 last night. Feel lousier this morning. Am mad at Blogger. Will provide abbreviated discussion of puzzles, even shorter than what Blogger ate. Grr! Cannot resist the siren song of the couch much longer.

Am feeling better intellectually to see that many others were also stymied by the Byron's Sun puzzle. It's not me, it's not the virus—It's the Byron/Peter Gordon combo.

Kevin Der's New York Times crossword gives Google not one, but two product placements: I'M FEELING LUCKY and GMAIL. MT. DANA, the [Peak on the eastern edge of Yosemite Natl. Park], and LARAS, or [Singer Fabian and others], were the only two answers I needed all the crossings for. Never heard of either, and European Lara Fabian's Wikipedia article sure seems like bloated overkill. Favorite entries: SEE A GHOST, or [Get spooked, maybe] (would be better in the past tense, though); STRIKE OUT, or [Whiff]; CRAZY TALK, or [Hogwash] (only the certainty of Laurence TISCH deterred me from entering POPPYCOCK with the Y and K in place); CURACAO, an [Ingredient in a Long Island iced tea], is near the clue [Cacao plant feature], or POD (how many words end in -cao?); and erstwhile Charmin spokesperson MR. WHIPPLE is the [Noted shopper scolder].

I like the theme in James Sajdak's LA Times crossword. The [Parking sign, and a hint to 20-, 26- and 48-Across] is TOWAWAY ZONE. It's a CAR that gets towed, and each of the other three theme entries has had a run-in with the tow truck:
  • Pink carnations become PINK NATIONS, or [Quasi-communist countries?].
  • On a magic carpet ride turns into ON A MAGIC PET RIDE, or [Like Jackie Paper sailing with Puff?] the Magic Dragon.
  • Upsets the apple cart becomes UPSETS THE APPLET, or [Causes a small program to crash?].

In the Chronicle of Higher Education crossword by Jim Leeds, "Bird Spotting" is what you do in the theme entries. Each one is a city name in which a bird is hidden (see the letters I've circled in my solution grid). The FIELD GUIDE is a [Useful aid for bird spotters popularized by Roger Tory Peterson (b. 8/28/1908)], so the puzzle's a centenary tribute to Peterson. In the fill 24 of the answers are 6 to 8 letters long, which makes for a more interesting solve than when the grid's packed with the sorts of 3- to 5-letter answers we see all the time.

Martin Ashwood-Smith's CrosSynergy puzzle is called "Epicenters" because the center of each theme answer is EPI, split across words: IN APPLE PIE ORDER means [Shipshape]. [Comprehended] clues GOT THE PICTURE. [Terminate, with "to"] is GIVE THE PINK SLIP. That last one sounds a bit off with the "to" shunted to the clue. And down the center, TIE PINS are [Neckwear accessories].

Randolph Ross's Wall Street Journal crossword, "Big-League Bargaining," gathers eight phrases from baseball that have found use in the business setting. Note that 22- and 26-Across and 101- and 110-Across are 17- and 20-letter answers that are stacked on one another—and with no questionable fill in their crossings. (Merl Reagle seems to pull that feat off more often than anyone else.) The 20s intersect the Down theme entries, which in turn cross the shorter Across theme answers. Impressive structure.