September 06, 2008

Sunday, 9/7

NYT 7:53
BG 7:15
LAT 7:10
PI 6:55
CS 3:05

Will Shortz's Spiral 4:54
"Fashion Sense" suite of puzzles in the NYT untimed...and not finished*

*Hallelujah! Eric Berlin made a multi-page PDF of the "Fashion Sense" puzzles and it's confirmed at Eric's blog that "The New Season" puzzle has errors both online and in the newspaper. The shark and glove shirts should each have one black circle
and no white circle.

Randolph Ross's New York Times crossword is called "Pun-ditry" because the theme entries are puns on the titles of TV shows political pundits may appear on. The first theme entry involves a show I hadn't heard of, but the rest are familiar:

  • RELIABLE SAUCES might be a [Program on which pundits talk about marinara and such?]. CNN's Reliable Sources delves into how journalists do their jobs.
  • FAZE THE NATION plays in CBS's Face the Nation and is clued, [Program on which pundits say dumbfounding things?].
  • The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer is on PBS. THE NOOSE HOUR is a [Program on which pundits talk about hangings?]. Yeesh.
  • [Program on which pundits express indignant surprise?] is THE "OH, REALLY?" FACTOR, playing on Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor. (Here's Jon Stewart's look at some O'Reilly inconsistency.)
  • BEAT THE PRESS, riffing on NBC's Meet the Press, is a [Program on which pundits slug it out with reporters?].
  • CBS's Sunday Morning becomes SUNDAY MOANING, a [Program on which pundits kvetch?].
  • [Program on which pundits deride the power of the federal government?] is WASHINGTON WEAK, punning on PBS's Washington Week.
  • KNIGHT LINE (playing on ABC's Nightline) is a [Program on which pundits talk about Camelot?].
  • The Today Show isn't heavily pundited. TWO-DAY SHOW is a [Program on which pundits talk for 48 straight hours?].
Clues and answers that I deem blogworthy, based on liveliness, cleverness, difficulty, or relative obscurity:
  • A [Control surface on a plane's wing] is an ELEVON. Quick: lively or obscure? I vote obscure. (One lone obscurity is not so bad.)
  • [Kublai Khan and others] are MONGOLS. Gotta love an old-school horde, right?
  • TAPS IN means [Easily makes the hole with, in golf].
  • [Walloped, quickly] is KOD, as in KO'd, as in kayoed, as in knocked out. One of KOD's crossers, ODSON, can also be tricky to parse. [Has way too much of, slangily] means OD'S ON, as in overdoses on.
  • Iowa gets big play here: An IOWAN is a [Certain caucuser], ISU or Iowa State is the [Cyclones' sch.], and Iowa State is located in AMES.
  • Casinos also get in the game: [You might not be able to stand this] is PAT, as in "stand pat." [Passed out in a bad way] is MISDEALT. And the [Big winner at the casino] is the HOUSE.
  • Look behind you—ASSES are clued as [Buffoons] and a RUMPSTEAK is a [Cut of beef].
  • [All: Prefix] is OMN, which looks inadequate without its trailing I. Seven rows beneath that is OMNIS, clued as [Old Dodges]. Perhaps Dodge overreached with that car name?
  • I feel I should know IRMA [Thomas, the Soul Queen of New Orleans], but I don't.
  • NAVY SEALS are [Specialists in special ops].
  • POLO is a [Sport with a 4 1/2-ounce ball].
  • [Cut a cord, say] is SAWED because you'd use a saw to cut a cord of wood. I do not advise using a saw to cut an umbilical cord.


All right, time for more abbreviated crossword blogging than ever before! My cough and allied symptoms are making me whiny.

Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon's Boston Globe crossword in Across Lite is called "Obedience School" and the theme entries are all phrases that begin with commands one might give a dog. For example, the [Chuck Berry classic] "ROLL OVER, BEETHOVEN" begins with "roll over," and FETCH A GOOD PRICE starts with "fetch." Favorite non-theme fill" VIRGIN BIRTH, or [Parthenogenesis]. Last year, I visited the Chester Zoo in England, home to a Komodo dragon who laid a clutch of fertilized eggs without the hassle of having a boyfriend in the picture. Her offspring were severall months old when I saw them, in a separate enclosure from Mum since adult Komodos are wont to snack on the young.

Merl Reagle's Philadelphia Inquirer puzzle, "Are You Ready for Some Foodball?", takes 11 phrases that mean something in football and clues them as if they have something to do with food and eating. So [Add a little salt early before adding a lot of salt later?] is PRESEASON, and [Whip up some homemade Cheez Whiz?] is BEAT THE SPREAD. In the fill, one wrong turn caught my eye. At 1-Down, for [Arrest] I had CO**A* and I entered CORRAL—but the correct answer is COLLAR. Are there other word pairs where certain letters can be swapped like this, and the words could be passably clued the same way? The L/R, left/right swap is a bonus.

Updated: isn't loading right now, so I can't download the syndicated LA Times crossword.

Paula Gamache's themeless CrosSynergy "Sunday Challenge" hit a lot of my sweet spots and gave me perhaps my quickest themeless solve yet. Sure, a lot of people might read a clue like [Portrayer of Lila Quartermaine on "General Hospital"] and grumble, but ANNA LEE was a gimme for me. (She played the role for over 25 years. Lila was an unusual soap opera character in that she was always on the side of good.) Four interlocking 15-letter answers brace the grid and offer a leg up in each corner of the puzzle. Not much of a challenge, but it's always fun to get through a themeless puzzle faster than usual.

Will Shortz's second Sunday puzzle, Spiral, was pretty easy. The main reason I subscribe to Games World of Puzzles is because it's a regular purveyor of Frank Longo puzzles—including a spiral in the newest issue, the Jumbo Crossword (the current one features stair-stepped 7-letter answers occupying grand swaths of grid space), and puzzles with variety crossword grids.

I printed out the various pieces of today's NYT op-ed puzzle extravaganza, "Fashion Sense," by Mike Shenk, Robert Leighton, and Amy Goldstein of Puzzability. (It appears that the puzzles are all included in a single PDF, which would be teeny if printed on an 8 1/2 x 11 page. I used the Mac's Grab app to capture individual puzzles for printing.) Most of the puzzles weren't too tough, but "The New Season" stumped me (I blame the virus that has me feeling fluish), so I can't complete the final puzzle. Sigh.

Updated on Monday with one more puzzle:

Pamela Amick Klawitter constructed the syndicated Los Angeles Times Sunday crossword, "We're in Business." Although actually, the theme is better described as "Business Is in Them"—each theme entry hides an INC. A smooth puzzle...