October 11, 2008

Sunday, 10/12

NYT 34:15
LAT 32:23
BG 25:57
CS 23:54
PI 22:42

Updated 12:30 pm Sunday

Surprise! It's me, PuzzleGirl! Wait, what? You knew it was me when you saw those huge numbers at the top of this post? Well aren't you observant! Amy's spending some time with her mom tonight and checking out the Chicago Marathon tomorrow morning, so she asked me to fill in which, of course, I'm thrilled to do. I do so love to ramble on and on about crossword puzzles. So let's get to it!

Rich Norris's New York Times crossword, "Change of Heart," takes a familiar three-word phrase and anagrams the middle word to create a new phrase which is then clued. (I can use anagrams as a verb, right? I didn't just make that up?)

  • [Low-budget films about hearty European meals?] turns the Dutch West Indies into DUTCH STEW INDIES.
  • Hermit painters retire not in Texas but in the LONE ARTS STATE.
  • For kitchenware, you wouldn't go where you mail your letters -- try the GENERAL POTS OFFICE instead.
  • The doctrine of in loco parentis allows a non-biological parent to have legal rights and responsibilities of a biological parent. It follows, then, that IN COOL PARENTIS is how beatniks raise kids. Ya dig?
  • An [Étagère with a single tiny shelf?] is a ONE-THING STAND.
  • And THREE LIME ISLAND is [Where citrus trees grow in small groups?].
I really struggled through this puzzle. On both Friday and Saturday this week I was totally on the constructor's wave-length so I guess I was due for a tough one today. Looking back on it, nothing really jumps out at me as particularly difficult. I just wasn't clicking I guess.

Three-letter fill I like:
  • PuzzleHusband and I play this game when we're on long car trips where we switch the radio from station to station and we each try to be the first one to identify the artist of the song that's playing. We both have wide gaps in our knowledge of certain genres, so we have ready-made answers for when there's no chance we actually know the correct one. If it's a guy singing an "alternative" sounding song we shout out "Beck!" If it has sort of a Pearl Jam feel to it but we know it's not Pearl Jam, we shout out "Nickelback!" or "Creed!" Any contemporary female country artist is "Mindy McCready!" to us. Male rappers are "Nelly!" or "50-Cent!" and female rappers -- you knew I'd get to a point sooner or later, didn't you? -- are "LIL' Kim!"
  • When I see the name "Eva" in a clue I think of (1) PuzzleDaughter's best friend, who's probably not going to be in a puzzle anytime soon, (2) the "Locomotion" singer, and (3) the character in Uncle Tom's Cabin. I never -- ever -- think of Eva Gabor. In fact, the only time I think of Eva Gabor when I'm doing a puzzle is when Ava Gardner shows up and I have to ponder the spelling. I guess what I'm trying to say is that using [Eva's half sister?] as a clue to get ZSA is tricky even if you think of Eva Gabor. Which I didn't. Until I got the Z from [13-time Golden Glove-winning shortstop] OZZIE SMITH.
  • [Be in a cast] doesn't refer to broken bones, but to ACTors.
  • [Semi-attached compartment?] is the CAB of a semi-truck. Again with the tricky!
Longer fill I like:
  • When I think of SPATS [Fancy footwear], I think of three bands: Morris Day & the Time, Kid Creole & the Coconuts, and Little Charlie & the Night Cats. The funny thing is, I don't think a single one of these guys is wearing spats in any of these videos. But it looks like they should be, doesn't it?
  • ONE MORE can mean ["I'm not quite done yet"]. It can also mean, "Yeah, I know I've been saying it for three hours, but there's no way I'm turning this computer off until I win this freaking game!" Not that I know anything about that.
  • I was in a bowling alley in Hyattsville, Maryland, one time in, oh, let's say, 1990. I was just minding my own business when I heard a woman calling to her daughter, who was probably four at the time, "SADE! Come here!" It had never occurred to me before that moment that someone other than the [Nigerian-born singer with five Top 40 hits] would have that name. Also reminded me of the last episode of "Mad About You" where Paul's brother is married to Cyndi Lauper and their kids' names are Shania and Beavis.
No way I can leave without mentioning:
  • [Richard : Moore :: Grant : _____] = ASNER. Man, I miss "The Mary Tyler Moore Show"!
The theme answers in Henry Hook's Boston Globe crossword are all clued with words that rhymes with stuff.
  • [Scruff] is the BACK OF THE NECK.
  • [Duff] is ACTRESS HILARY who started off as Lizzie McGuire.
  • [Fluff] is MARSHMALLOW SPREAD and if you don't mind the spread being super sticky and messy, you can just zap an actual marshmallow in the microwave for about 30 seconds. If puffs up to about five times its size. (Add graham crackers and some chocolate chips -- your kids will love it.)
  • [Ruff] is an ELIZABETHAN COLLAR like this one.
  • A [Scuff] is a TYPE OF SLIPPER that looks like this. I've had many, many slippers like these in my life and never knew they had a name.
  • You might [Huff and puff] to TRY TO BLOW DOWN those pesky pigs' houses.
  • [Bluff] is a POKER TACTIC that I must admit I'm not very good at.
  • [Buff] is YELLOW-BROWN.
  • To [Muff] is to DROP THE BALL.
  • And [Guff] is, of course,VERBAL ABUSE.
As usual, I got schooled by Henry Hook. Here's what I learned:
  • [Ruth] is another word for PITY.
  • Jean GENET was a contemporary of Jean-Paul Sartre. Sartre even wrote an introduction to Genet's first novel, Notre Dame de Fleurs, when it was translated into English (Our Lady of the Flowers) in 1963.
  • OMERTÀ is commonly known as a "code of silence." (It's a Mob thing. Shhhh! We probably shouldn't talk about it!)
  • [Cml.] means commercial, another word for advertisement or ADVT. Now that's just ugly.
  • AKIM Tamiroff was in the original "Ocean's Eleven" and, according to his Wikipedia entry, "his malapropistic performance as the boss in 'The Great McGinty' inspired the cartoon character Boris Badenov, the male half of the villainous husband-and-wife team Boris and Natasha on 'The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.'"
  • There may be more than three Furies, but Virgil and Dante recognized ALECTO, Megaera, and Tisiphone.
  • And I thought I was pathetic when it came to European rivers. At least I've heard of most of them. Not so with the UELE, which flows into the Congo.
  • Here's a picture of an ALSTON'S mouse opossum.
  • Ganache is a type of icing, pastry filling, or glaze that is often chocolatey and definitely CREAMY.
  • Actress KAY LENZ was once married to David Cassidy. I was more into Shaun.
  • Cape Wrangell is the westernmost point of Alaska. It's on the island of ATTU.
  • A TATTOO is a military drum performance I'd never heard of. Kind of interesting though.
  • A VERST is a Russian unit of length. It's equal to 500 sazhen, if that helps.
  • LITT. D. means "doctor of letters" or "doctor of literature."
  • [Grafting twig (var.)] = CION. My eyes started to glaze over when I looked at the Google hits for this one. It has to do with affixing the tissues of one plant to another plant. Way too sciencey for my brain. Especially at this time of night.
  • CETO- is a prefix meaning whale. (Also cet-; suffixes are -cete and -ceti.) Read all about it here.
Odds 'n' ends:
  • How many five-lettered James Bond portrayers have there been? Only two. Roger MOORE and Daniel Craig.
  • HOT, defined as [All the rage], can only mean one thing. Paris Hilton.
  • Possibly the only [Kingston trio classic] I could ever come up with is "M.T.A." Poor, poor Charlie.
  • [Muhammad or Laila] of course refers to the ALIs. What a coincidence! They're also in the puzzle Rex and I posted last week! What? You haven't heard about it yet? Well, it's ... all the rage. Click on over to the Crossword Fiend Forum or to Rex's blog and take a look. ;-)
I'll be back with more puzzles after I recover from these two. See ya later!

If I had known Merl Reagle's Philadelphia Inquirer crossword, "Columbus, the Game," was going to show up today, I might have said no to this blogging gig. Wow! A lot going on here. Let's see if I can explain it coherently.

The note tells us that "Three famous names associated with Christopher Columbus are concealed multiple times on this page." He also clues us in that one of the words will appear 14 times, another 9 times, and the last one twice. Also, if you read the note, like, 18 times to figure out what the heck it's saying, it will finally dawn on you that some of the hidden words are in the clues not just in the answers. Merl, you are diabolical. Just in case you're not sure what the three words are going to be, he throws us a bone: [Artist Al] HIRSCHFELD is our hint. Hirschfeld is the guy who's known for those really cool black-and-white drawings of celebrities and Broadway stars. He always hides his daughter's name somewhere (sometimes several places) in each drawing. His daughter's name is NINA. Aha! I bet the three famous names are Niña, Pinta, and Santa María. So, where are they?

Niña (14 times):
  • 30A: cANINes
  • 74A: rAN INto
  • 105A: melANIN
  • 107A: KANIN
  • 118A: wANINg
  • 3D: cleANINg
  • 15D: borN IN A trunk
  • 34D: teN IN A row
  • 59D: mezzANINe
  • 64D: Anna KareNINA
  • 95D: zANINess
  • 43A: [LeANINg Tower city resident]
  • 102A: [Prefix meANINg 20]
The last NIÑA is hidden vertically in the clues for 4, 5, 6, and 7 Down.
  • 4D [Nickname in film]
  • 5D [In awe]
  • 6D [Novak's first]
  • 7D [Adam's madam]
Pinta (9 times):
  • 27A: cATNIP
  • 71A: PINTAil
  • Start with the P in 56A SPADE and go diagonally both up and to the left and down and to the left.
  • 83A: [ProP IN TAble tennis]
  • 31D: [High uP, IN TAmpico]
  • 61D: [Big helP IN TAx season]
  • 91D: [It may be on taP IN TAprooms]
  • 99D: [HalfPINT Around Mayberry]
Santa María (2 times):
  • 43, 45, and 46 A: piSAN TAM ARIAs
  • 131, 132, and 133 A: stAIR AMAT NASty
Obviously, there's a lot more we could talk about, but I'm afraid that talking about anything else would detract from this truly amazing work of art. Plus I'm exhausted. I'll be back in a few with the last two puzzles.
(See Merl's website for a visual of the hidden NINAs, PINTAs, and SANTA MARIAs.)

Dan Naddor's LA Times crossword, "On Finn Ice," has an awesome theme and it gave me fits the whole way through. Theme answers are familiar phrases in which a TH is changed to an F.
  • [Stop guests dead in their tracks?] = FREEZE COMPANY. I could Not get "Three's a crowd" out of my head on this one so it took me Way too long.
  • [Impulsive rat's act?] = QUICK FINKING. Kept thinking an actual rat, like the rodent. Maybe something from that Ratatouille movie? No.
  • [One wanting a little extra?] = FRILL SEEKER
  • [Downtown quarrel?] = URBAN MIFF
  • [Fund-raiser for the hearing impaired?] = DEAF BENEFIT
  • [Medeival mantra about child-rearing?] = IT TAKES A FIEF. I've never heard of the 1968 television series "It Takes a Thief." Or the 2005 reality television series of the same name that surprisingly only lasted two years.
  • [Reaction to the sweet smell of success?] = WHIFF PLEASURE
  • [Do pull-ups next to Flintstone?] = HANG BY A FRED. What a coincidence! Fred Flintstone also appears in the puzzle Rex and I posted last week. You haven't heard about it? Wow, have you been hiding under a rock? Check it out at the Crossword Fiend Forum or at Rex's blog.
  • [Hooded hood?] = FELONIOUS MONK
  • [Water?] = FIRST QUENCHER
  • [Workplace doofus?] = OAF OF OFFICE. Every office has one. If you haven't yet identified the oaf in your office, guess what.
Other stuff:
  • Isao AOKI of the PGA shows up in the puzzle quite a bit. For some reason, I thought he was one of the young guys out there right now, but PuzzleHusband tells me Aoki finished second to Jack Nicklaus in the 1980 U.S. Open. So that was a while ago.
  • Love ["The Shawshank Redemption" costar] Morgan FREEMAN. Also Tim Robbins, who I met last winter. I gave him a T-shirt. It's a long story.
  • The Pittsburgh Pirates now play at PNC Park. I love a good baseball clue, but I'm not loving the new names of the parks.
  • "IF A picture paints a thousand words" is the first line of the classic Bread song "If." I went looking for a video of it so you could have it stuck in your head too and found this spoken-word version. As if the song wasn't cheesy enough!
Rich Norris's CrosSynergy "Sunday Challenge" kicked. My. Butt. I couldn't get any traction anywhere. And it was a huge disappointment because I really expected to have a decent time on this one, which would redeem my pathetic performances on the last four. I even had a couple sentences written in my head: "Finally, a respectable time. I mean, I know Howard probably finished this puzzle in, like, 2:34, but my time is still pretty good!" But no. My time is not really very good on this one. I have no idea what kind of [Mil. groups] TPS are. Add to that the fact that I could think of ten ways to fill in the blank on [Golden _____], none of which were AGERS, and the PASY in P.A. SYSTEMS [Brief announcement medium?] looked all kinds of wrong -- well, yeah, I was stuck down there for a while.

Don't get me wrong though, I liked the puzzle.
  • [Wolf (down)] is a great clue for SCARF.
  • TSP. [Child unit (abbr.)] refers to the great Julia Child.
  • STREAKS is clued with some nice misdirection in [Runs without coverage?].
  • More Jimmy SMITS! [He played Detective Simone on "NYPD Blue."]
  • I have a wraparound skirt I wear at the beach that's called a pareo. I guess if it were Polynesian, it would be called a PAREU.
  • Used to love STYX but can only think Peter Frampton with "Show Me the Way."
  • FRIPPERY ([Gaudy attire]) is an awesome word.
  • "Sick as a dog" is a SIMILE. Also an Aerosmith song.
  • ["Her loveliness I never knew / Until she _____ on me" (Hartley Coleridge)] = SMILED. Anybody else think of some filthy possibilities for this one?
  • [D.C. title] = CIC. Anyone have any idea what this means? I'm running so late that I'm not going to look it up.
Had a blast as usual. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!