October 03, 2008

Saturday, 10/4

Newsday 7:48
NYT 6:34
LAT 4:20
CS 3:15

(updated at 10:30 p.m. Saturday)

Would you look at that? Matt Ginsberg's New York Times crossword is a 68-word puzzle, so it must be themeless—except that three 13-letter answers spell out [an Einstein quote that holds true when solving clever crosswords]. That quote splits up into these three chunks: IMAGINATION IS / MORE IMPORTANT / THAN KNOWLEDGE. I've never heard the quote, and my typing was all bollixed up tonight, and I took the wrong road for 32-Down, so this puzzle didn't feel very easy. I had the R from STRESS ([Type A problem]), so I figured [One might refuse to shake hands] meant a variant spelling, GERMPHOBE. That's not a word, turns out. The answer is a SORE LOSER.

There are some fun clue pairs here. [Rover's watcher] is NASA, while [Rover's reward] is a doggie TREAT. Two answers share the clue [Burning]: RED HOT and URGENT. (I made a wrong turn with ARDENT there.) [R.S.V.P., e.g.: Abbr.] is an ANS. (answer), while [R.S.V.P. facilitator: Abbr.] is an SAE (self-addressed envelope).

The clues I liked best are these:

  • [Europe's third-largest island] is EIRE. Greenland and Iceland are bigger.
  • [Far Eastern capital] is YEN, Japan's currency, and not a capital city.
  • ERASMUS is the [Originator of the phrase "Pandora's box"]. Did I know this?
  • [Trix alternative?] isn't breakfast cereal, it's a suffix. If you're one to call a female aviator an aviatrix, you might call a female comedian a comedienne, and the answer here is ENNE.
  • The clue for BALD is inaccurate. Not all bald men are [Unable to part?] their hair. Sometimes they just happen to part it above the ear to make a combover.
  • [Pool openings] are BREAKS in that you "break" to start a game of pool.
  • [Esquire's plea?] is to RENEW the magazine. Did you think of lawyers first?
Other answers I was fond of are NARCISSUS, a specific [Self-absorbed individual]; chicken NUGGETS; and ON PATROL, or [Making the rounds], because I so enjoyed the SpongeBob episode in which he sings "I'm on patro-o-ol." Things I hadn't known:
  • That there's a team called the [North Dakota Fighting __] SIOUX.
  • That Golda MEIR was a [Head of state who resigned in 1974]. She resigned? I never saw the movie of her life, and I wasn't following international news when I was eight.
  • That boxer Gene TUNNEY was the [Writer of "A Man Must Fight," 1932].
  • That YMA Sumac was a [Singer who appeared with Charlton in "Secret of the Incas"].

Robert Wolfe's themeless LA Times crossword puzzle was a bit easier than other recent Saturday LA Times offerings. Here's some of what it contained:
  • CLEAN UP YOUR ROOM is an [Order-producing order].
  • To [Get happy] is to BREAK INTO A SMILE.
  • WHO'S GONNA MAKE ME? is a [Bully's challenge].
  • ST. PETER was a [Witness to the Transfiguration of Jesus] in the Bible.
  • [Does, e.g.] are DEER. I wonder how many people read that as the third person singular form of the verb do.
  • IRONS are [Restraining rings] in a dungeon, as in leg irons.
  • OSTER is the [Blend-N-Go Cup maker].
  • ANKARA, Turkey, is the [Atakule Tower city].
  • To be [Stuck at Buffalo Niagara Airport, perhaps] is to be SNOWED IN.
  • [School with a Panama City campus] is FSU, or Florida State.
  • OSHA is a [Group concerned with asbestos stds.].
  • [Eucharist plate] is a PATEN. This one I learned from crosswords.
  • [Bon Jovi bassist ___ John Such] is named ALEC. 
  • I'm not sure why [Revolution victim] is an EMIGRE. There was a revolution and their side came out on the bottom, so they emigrated?
  • [Treaty of Berlin (1899) subject] was SAMOA.
  • [Places for criers: Abbr.] is TNS. What is that, an abbreviation for towns? Apparently so.

Tom Schier's CrosSynergy crossword, "Directional Humor," spells out a quip with zero Google hits, so I suspect the quip's of Schier's own devising. The [Comedian's quip] is "A STRAIGHT LINE IS / THE / SHORTEST / DISTANCE / BETWEEN TWO JOKES." That THE segment breaks the symmetry of the theme layout, but that's remedied by placing GAG, or [Comedian's offering, such as this puzzle's quip], opposite THE in the grid. The first three answers I filled in, 1- and 2-Down and 1-Across, were SPAS, WASP, and SWAPS, so for a moment I envisioned a puzzle filled in with only the letters found in those answers—but no. That wouldn't work. Who knew an INGATE was a [Molten metal channel]? Not I. The [Long-armed ape] or ORANG appears in both this puzzle and today's LAT.

Updated Saturday night:

Stan Newman's alter ego, Anna Stiga, constructed this week's Newsday "Saturday Stumper." It's got 72 words, the max for a themeless puzzle, so it's got pretty smooth fill. The difficulty arises in the clues, not the answers. (Complete solution grid is here in PDF form.) It's late, so allow me to intermingle my favorite clues and answers with some tough stuff:
  • [Black diamonds] are ANTHRACITE coal, not just challenging ski slopes.
  • [It might be a lot] clues an ACRE.
  • PAPER PLATES are a [Party purchase]. If there's a potluck and you sign up to bring PAPER PLATES, you are lazy and you stole the offering I wanted to sign up for.
  • GNAT is clued ["Gnorm ___" (Jim Davis strip before "Garfield"]. I'll bet it was not good.
  • [Extraordinarily] is an AWFUL misleading clue for that answer.
  • I should use the word DASTARD more often. It's a [Sniveling sneak].
  • [One or two] is an INTEGER.
  • [Fire sign] is ashes if you're talking about campfires, or ARIES if you're talking about the zodiac. Leo and Sagittarius are also fire signs. Am I dynamic and ingenious? Do I view life as a competition?Hmm.
  • PRESTOS are [Fast movements] in music. My 8-year-old was just informing me about this and other tempos.
  • A [GPS ancestor] is a SEXTANT. I want a GPS doohickey for Christmas this year, because the sextant just isn't cutting it on those suburban roads.
  • PICCOLO means [Little, literally]. Makes sense.