October 17, 2008

Saturday, 10/18

NYT 7:08
LAT 4:38
Newsday 4:24
CS 2:50

Aw, not again? One of the 15-letter answers in Brad Wilber's New York Times crossword is a showy one, no doubt about it, but when an answer as memorable as that appears in multiple crosswords, it loses its surprise. Yes, GONZO JOURNALISM ([Writing that mixes reportage and fiction]) has that Hunter S. Thompson vibe and good Scrabble letters, but it's been done before. Here, it's stacked atop LOCAL ANESTHESIA, which has the great clue [It's not a total knockout]—technically, local anesthesia isn't any kind of knockout, but given that general anesthesia does totally knock one out, the clue's spot on. That pair of 15s crosses SKIRT THE ISSUE ([Equivocate]), which links to another pair of stacked 15s. The top stack consists of an OPEN AND SHUT CASE, clued as a [Court slam dunk] as in a trial court, not a basketball court, and GO TO RACK AND RUIN, or [Seriously deteriorate].

Favorite clues and answers:

  • [Precursor of Pascal] is ALGOL. My first guess was Cobol, but I like ALGOL because it's the name of my college yearbook (named after a star).
  • [It may be chain-linked] refers to SAUSAGE. Ick, sausage.
  • [Creator of a bathroom cloud] isn't what you might think. It's merely TALC.
  • To SNIGGLE is to [Fish by thrusting a baited hook into holes]. It's a shame such a great word has such a blah meaning. It should mean "to snuggle and giggle together."
  • FREESIA is a [Cousin of a crocus]. I like this sweet-smelling flower.
  • [Like Delftware] means CERAMIC.
Things that were less obvious:
  • [It's in the cards] clues TREY, as in the three of diamonds or three of clubs. That's not in the cards, it is a card.
  • SILT [builds up in bars], as in sandbars or taverns in particularly silty locations.
  • [With 44-Across, 1940 Laurel and Hardy film] clues SAPS / AT SEA.
  • [Makes grand adjustments?] clues RETUNES, as in making adjustments to a grand piano.
  • [Magnetron parts] are ANODES. I had no idea what the clue was getting at until a couple crossings whispered to me, "Psst, maybe it's ANODES. That's crosswordy enough."
  • [Much may come after it] clues INAS, as in inasmuch.
  • [Corporation allocation] means SHARES of stock, I presume.
  • PUNKY ain't just Punky Brewster, it's also [Very slow-burning, as a fire].
  • [Auto-rotating system] clues CARPOOL. Did you watch that show, Carpoolers? It was funny.
  • [Philosophical studier of the universe] is a COSMIST.
  • [Choir robe accessories] are STOLES? Okey-dokey.


Doug Peterson's Newsday "Saturday Stumper" (PDF solution grid here) struck me as much less of a stumper than most recent offerings. It helped that I was recently stumped by the [Soccer Hall of Fame city] in another crossword, because that experience scarred ONEONTA into my brain. An INSIDE JOB is a [Kind of crime]—and hey, this "kind of ___" clue actually has a noun for its answer, rather than having, say, SEA as a [Kind of anemone], when a sea is no kind of anemone at all. NITROGEN is a [Product of star fusion]? I know nothing about star fusion. I don't care for [Thoughts on paper] as the clue for an EEG, because electrical activity in the brain is not the same as thoughts. I do like [Be sedimental] for SETTLE; sounds like "be sentimental" spoken by someone with a stuffy nose.

Holy cow! Look at the theme entries in Paula Gamache's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Pre-tense." Why couldn't this puzzle have run a few days ago? Then I would have heard of PAST MASTERS before the word stumped me in the Friday NYT. The theme entries are phrases that begin with grammatical tenses, so of course PLUPERFECT JONES anchors the puzzle. No, wait, I made that up. The first theme entry is PAST MASTERS, clued as [Rembrandt and Picasso, to the art world], which doesn't quite convey the same meaning as in the NYT puzzle. The second one's the PRESENT MOMENT, or the [Here and now]. The third is FUTURE SHOCK, the [Result of "too much change in too short a period of time" (Alvin Toffler)].

Updated Saturday evening:

Barry Silk's themeless LA Times crossword seemed about as difficult (i.e., not very) as the Newsday puzzle today. It's late, so I'll just mention some of my favorite parts of this puzzle:
  • CIA AGENT, with its three vowels in a row, is a [Langley fed]. Why did I start with FBI first? That agency's apparently headquartered in D.C.
  • [Mercenary's workplace?] is just about ANYWHERE.
  • JOE FRAZIER was a [1964 Olympic boxing gold medalist].
  • PRAIRIE DOG is the [College of Santa Fe mascot]. How cute! I'll bet LYNXES ([1980s Mercury models] as well as big cats) could eat a prairie dog.
  • [Old-time double dealer] is an AMBIDEXTER. Apparently it's an old word and a slangy one at that. This word needs a new meaning so we can start using it again.
  • SINE QUA NON means [Essential].
  • A [Germanic water sprite] is a NIXIE. Mythical shape-shifters and mermaids and mermen, oh my!
In the "unfamiliar clues" category, we have [Cerussite or wolfenite], referring to LEAD ORE, and a quote: ["The even mead, that ___ brought sweetly forth / The freckled cowslip": "Henry V"] clues ERST. I originally had EXHALING instead of EXHALANT for the crossing, and thought I was contending with an E**G word. Eek!