October 10, 2008

Saturday, 10/11

Newsday 7:10
NYT 5:25
LAT 4:57
CS 3:54

Pete Mitchell's 70-word New York Times crossword is loaded up with juicy entries. What links WAYNE GRETZKY, the [Winner of eight consecutive M.V.P. awards], with JOAN JETT, who is [One of only two women on Rolling Stone's list of "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time"], and ENRIQUE IGLESIAS, the [Singer with the 2000 #1 hit "Be With You"]? Why, that would be EROTICISM, or [Steaminess], of course, along with their fondness for letters that score big in Scrabble. Other groovy entries:

  • SHTICKS is clued as [Routines], and my head was stuck in the "rut" sort of routine for far too long.
  • MAE WEST isn't too unusual as a first-and-last-name crossword answer, but I like the clue this time: [Who said "A man's kiss is his signature"].
  • NAIROBI gets an interesting geography clue: [The Green City in the Sun]. There's more African geography: ERITREA is [Where Arabic and Tigrinya are spoken]. And [It's north of Libya] wanders out of Africa and into the Mediterranean—it's MALTA.
  • That [Active Ecuadorean volcano] COTOPAXI is something I picked up a few weeks ago in a Sun puzzle.
  • SHRIMP SCAMPI is a [Garlicky dish], all right. I don't like shrimp.
  • STARDATE is [Detail in a captain's log], as in Star Trek.
  • JELLO is clued grossly as [It may still be moving when you eat it]. If only the MANTIS ([Cousin of a cockroach]) had used the same clue.
This grid has lots of shorter answers in it, but that doesn't make it much easier because there are still some tough clues.
  • ESSES, as in S's, are the [Outsides of sandwiches?].
  • Who knew WACO was the [Dr Pepper Museum locale]?
  • LAOS is [Where you might be among the Hmong]. What other place name ends with AOS? TAOS, a [Southwestern resort community].
  • KIDS are the [Swing-set set].
  • [Ballet dancer Bruhn and others] are ERIKS. Messrs. Estrada and Satie wish to inform you that they are those "others."
  • [Person in a tree, briefly] is a SIB on your family tree. I started out with REL. here.
  • NITS are [Small carps] of the non-piscine variety.
  • [First three-letter White House monogram] was JQA, for John Quincy Adams.
  • Old car alert! An REO is a [Runabout or Royale]. Can I get a Royale with cheese?
  • MR. LEE is a [1957 hit for the Bobbettes]. [Stagger] clues AMAZE. Stagger Lee does not enter into either of these answers.
  • SARA is clued as [Old-time actress Haden], and I can't say I remember seeing her name before. Not even in crosswords.


Leonard Williams' 68-word themeless LA Times crossword included a few names I needed every crossing for:
  • MAHAN is clued as the [Pre-WWI naval historian Alfred Thayer ___], and boy, I sure don't know any more contemporary Mahans.
  • WONG is clued as a [1960 title role for Kwan]. This refers to The World of Suzie Wong, but the Kwan/WONG connection wasn't one I knew.
  • LEHI is a [City NW of Provo]. Usually the 4-letter Utah city is OREM, but not this time.
There were other names and titles that came together more easily, but not because I actually knew the answer based on the clue. For example: ["Funny Face" stars, 1927] are ASTAIRES in the plural. WILD ONE is the [1960 hit with the line "I'm-a gonna tame you down"]. It was also a 1958 song, a 1964 song, and a 1993 song.

I did know that ESTELLE [Harris of "Seinfeld"] played George Costanza's mother, and that [Jack who played "the Man" in "Chico and the Man"] was Jack ALBERTSON. Turning off the sitcoms, RACINE was the ["Phedre" playwright], and I might have read that in translation. RUTH Bader Ginsburg was the Supreme Court [Justice appointed after Clarence]. ANNABEL LEE is the name of an Edgar Allan Poe [1849 love poem].

My favorite answer here was GINORMOUS, or [Totally big]. I liked the etymology in the clue for BALSA, [Spanish word for "raft"]—balsa wood does indeed float like a raft. A few of the compound or multi-word answers might snag some solvers: SKI RESORT is a [Gondola setting, perhaps]. Anyone else trying to think what sort of Venetian canals might begin with SKIRE? No? Just me? [Part of a credo] is a CORE BELIEF. [Very cold] clues LIKE ICE. I'm not sure this one rises to the level of "in the language," crossword-worthy fill. Same with RAGGED EDGE, which is clued with [Tear evidence].

The answer to Daniel Stark's 72-word Newsday "Saturday Stumper" is here. Some of the clues:
  • [County east of Ashtabula] is ERIE. Ohio place name, 4 letters? ERIE is often a safe bet.
  • [One of a human dozen] is a MOLAR, unless you've had your wisdom teeth removed and have only eight.
  • One of the footwear clues is misleading. [Winter footwear] = BOOTS, fine. But [Summer footwear] = a WATERSKI. Just one ski? You don't want a pair of them?
  • [Viewing aid] is a LOUPE that magnifies tiny things, not a scope that magnifies far-away things.
  • [Scotland Yard div.] clues CID. I don't read the British mysteries that might have taught me that.
  • "RIGHT ON!" is clued as [Hippie encouragement].
  • [Bubble-gum shapes] can be CIGARS. Yes, they still sell 'em.
  • [Caddy job] is a LUBE because a caddy on the golf course lubes his or her boss with whisky. No, not really—it's Caddy as in a Cadillac. 

Will Johnston's CrosSynergy crossword is "Steps on Broadway: A Jerome Robbins Birthday Celebration." Wow! A theme custom-made to delight you musical theater lovers, but that will leave me piecing the theme answers together with the aid of crossings. I swear I haven't even heard of TWO'S COMPANY, the [1952 revue with lyrics by Ogden Nash, featuring Bette Davis in song-and-dance routines]. I do know of THE KING AND I, but Across Lite cut off the clue in the clue list and made the letters teeny in the single clue box, so I worked the crossings for that one instead of getting it from the clue (but I would've gotten it from the clue if I'd read the full clue). I've also heard of MISS LIBERTY, GYPSY, and CALL ME MADAM, but the year, stars, and shows' writers didn't point me in the right direction at all. (Robbins did the choreography for the shows.)

I see in Robbins' Wiki write-up that HUAC, clued here as [Anti-Red gp.], figures into his biography: he named names and betrayed some friends, but later felt bad about it. Hmph! Highlights in the fill: the 10-letter STAR-GAZING and MASQUERADE; PYGMY echoing GYPSY as a two-Y, no-vowel word; THE TUBE, [London's underground, informally]; POTBELLY, or [Beer gut]; SHLEMIEL, or [Unlucky one]; and a CHILI DOG, clued kinda grossly as [Sausage topped by stew].