October 25, 2008

Sunday, 10/26

PI 9:58
BG 8:54
LAT 8:15
NYT 7:33
CS 4:05

Next Saturday is All Saints' Day, so Daniel Bryant's "All Saints' Day" New York Times crossword appears the Sunday before. The abbreviation for Saint, ST, gets added to the beginning of a word in eight phrases:

  • EXCHANGE OF STRINGS is [Switch in an orchestra section?].
  • HOLY STROLLER is a [Pilgrim?].
  • STONE-ARMED BANDITS are clued as [Neolithic outlaws?]. This one feels a bit off, as people in the Stone Age were not themselves made of stone.
  • ULTRAVIOLET STRAYS are [Invisible lost dogs?]. I might've gone with lost dogs working at a tanning salon.
  • GOES ALL STOUT is clued as [Gets fat?].
  • WHERE THE BOYS STARE is a [Go-go club?]. What, not Fire Island?
  • PUT ON STAIRS is [Add new connections between floors?].
  • STARCH ENEMY is a [Dieter?].
The trickiest crossing for me was in square 125, where the [Old Indian V.I.P.] meets the [Key of Bach's best-known Mass]. As far as I know, there are seven letters that could work for the music clue (A through G), and NAWAB is better known in the corrupted form, nabob. Do musically inclined people remember things like "Oh, yeah, Bach's Mass is in B MINOR"?

Here are some clues I think people might be Googling this weekend:

  • [African nation founder Jomo ___] KENYATTA founded Kenya.
  • [Franz who composed "You Are My Heart's Delight"] is LEHAR. Raise your hand if you wanted Franz L. to be LISZT.
  • [Curly conker] is MOE of the Three Stooges. Earlier today, I'd been reminded of a [Curly poker] clue for MOE, highlighted as Crosswordese.com's Clever Clue of the Month.
  • [Costume designer Danilo ___] is DONATI.
  • Full-name ALDO RAY is ["The Naked and the Dead" star, 1958].
  • [American suffragist honored with a 1995 stamp] is ALICE PAUL.
  • [Cowboy actor Calhoun]'s first name is RORY.
  • [Explorer Tasman of Tasmania fame] is ABEL.
  • [Genesis creator] is video game company SEGA. Did you get duped into thinking this was a biblical clue? I sure did.
  • To [Be Circe-like] is to ENTICE.
  • To [Do some tune-up work on] is to REOIL.
Places! (Sort of.)
  • 28-Across, [Union member since 1896], is UTAH, and [Another name for 28-Across] is DESERET.
  • [Kipling's "Follow Me ___"] is completed by 'OME.
  • [Rabbit's home, maybe] is the BRIER patch.
  • [Leman and others] are LACS. I just learned the other day that Lac Leman is the French name for Switzerland's (but not Wisconsin's) Lake Geneva.
And the catch-all, miscellaneous:
  • [Negative north of England] is the Scottish NAE. The clue had me seeing "negative north" as an entity.
  • [Traditional symbol of friendship] is TOPAZ. Really? I had no idea.
  • [Whistler's whistle, maybe] is a TUNE. I don't quite follow. Whistle as a noun refers to the tune one is whistling?
  • [PX users] are NCOS, or noncommissioned officers.
  • [Loaded with fat] clues LARDY. Lardy, lardy! Goodness gracious me!
  • I wanted [Force in the ocean] to be EL NINO, but it's ARMADA. [El ___] NINO appears elsewhere in the puzzle.
  • One kind of [Anatomical cavity] is an ANTRUM. A sinus is another.
  • For [Needing a lift?], I almost filled in CAR-LESS. Turns out it's BRA-LESS.
  • A Spartan [Serf] is a HELOT. One-word clue? Tough to Google this puppy if you don't know the answer already.
  • [Thrice, in Rx's] is TER. Except that nobody seems to know any doctors who are using that particular Latin abbreviation in their prescriptions.
Updated Saturday night:

Merl Reagle's Philadelphia Inquirer crossword, "Halloween Party Checklist," has another of Merl's punpalooza themes. Before I get into the theme, though, I must single out this clue: [Colon opening] is the clue for a 4-letter answer. Could it be...ANUS? No, Merl wouldn't do that. It's the prefix SEMI, as in semicolon. This one's my pick for gutsiest clue of the month.

There are 13 theme entries, with two pairs of Down answers running right next to one another.
  • ["Let's see...this is the tennis player's kid..."] clues RAY'S A RACKET (playing on the phrase raise a racket).
  • ["This is the mechanic's kid..."], VIC'S A TIRE. I don't know what this is a pun on. Fix a tire?
  • ["This is the caterer's kid..."], MEG'S A SANDWICH (makes a sandwich).
  • ["This is the soldier's kid..."], TY'S A YELLOW RIBBON (ties).
  • ["This is the Olympic star's kid..."], CARRIE'S A TORCH (carries). At last, a girl name.
  • ["This is the clam digger's kid..."], LUKE'S A LITTLE PAIL (looks a little pale).
  • ["This is the traffic cop's kid..."], RON'S A STOP SIGN (runs).
  • ["This is the Italian-restaurant owner's kid..."], PETE'S A PIE (pizza pie). My son likes the William Steig story, Pete's a Pizza.
  • ["This is the crossword guy's kid..."], SOL'S A PUZZLE (solves a puzzle, I think).
  • ["This is the pet-store owner's kid..."], PAT'S A PUPPY (pats a puppy). 
  • ["This is the dentist's kid..."], CHIP'S A TOOTH (chips).
  • ["This is the tailor's kid..."], LEW'S A BUTTON (lose).
  • ["This is the farmer's kid..."], SKIP'S A BEET (skips a beat).
My favorites are the PAIL and BEET ones, where the last word is changed to a homophone. Unfamiliar answer alert: DECRI is [Disrepute, to Depardieu]. Right next to that is HOBS, the [Pegs used in quoits]. (Anyone here ever play quoits?) ETERNO, presumably meaning "eternal" in Italian, is clued [Everlasting, to Enrico]. Its E crosses LEAL, which is an archaic Scottish word meaning [Faithful, old style]. For my generation, SHAZAM is forever enshrined as the Captain Marvel word, but my husband (betrayer of the generation!) also knows it as a [Mayberry exclamation] from Barney Fife.

Henry Hook's Boston Globe crossword in Across Lite was originally published some weeks back. The Across Lite edition shows up the same week that Lynn Lempel used the same theme idea in her Tuesday CrosSynergy puzzle, and both puzzles have the title, "Popinjays," as the constructors have popped in a J. Hook has eight theme entries, some of which intersect other themers. My favorites:
  • BARBARY JAPE is clued as [Mockery in northern Africa?]. I like the word jape almost as much as jackanapes.
  • [Member of a swing-dance group?] is a JIVY LEAGUER, playing on Ivy Leaguer.
  • Loved ones add a J to become LOVED JONES, or [What many Monkees fans did?]. Who doesn't like Davy Jones? Or the movie Love Jones, which is also one letter off from this theme entry.
  • [Jack's relaxed partner?] is JILL AT EASE. (Seth, this one's for you. Don't worry about that Jack guy.)
  • SIX-PACK JABS are [Punches in the gut?].
Oddities in the fill include NICHEVO, or [Nikita's "never mind"]; ASOR, a [Bible-era lyre]; FASCIATED, or [Malformed, as plant stems]; and ILIESCU, the [1990s Romanian president]. And then there's the insane crossing between a [Small nautical rope] called a CABLET (which I'm guessing is based on the word cable) and actor [Brad of "General Hospital"], MAULE (he played Tony Jones, a character I'm familiar with, but boy, did I not know who played him). The crossing was an L, but I tried some other random letters there first. There's also some primo fill: B-COMPLEX vitamins, the song "GET A JOB," a JALAPENO pepper, DERRIERE, Rhett Butler's GIVE A DAMN, and some potent GANJA.

Updated on Sunday morning:

On Halloween last year, the holiday-themed LA Times crossword was credited to Ada Honeywell. This year, the pre-Halloween syndicated Sunday Los Angeles Times crossword is another Honeywell puzzle with a timely theme. In "Scared You!", each theme entry is made by adding BOO to an existing phrase:
  • BOOMING DYNASTY is a [Really loud regime?]. BOO + Ming dynasty is a good combo.
  • WEAPONS BABOON is a [Monkey in charge of the armory?].
  • BOOSTING OPERATION is a [Ring of shoplifters?]. I like that this one's built off of sting operation.
  • KICKING BOOTEE is clued as a [Bit of equipment for nursery football games?].
  • ATTACHE CABOOSE is the [Part of the train where briefcases are kept?].
  • The two Down theme answers both take phrases that begin with stand-alone letters and add the BOO. BOOK RATION is [Allotted reading?], expanding off a K-ration. And B movies turn into BOOB MOVIES, such as ["Dumb and Dumber" et al.?].
Seven theme entries is on the low side for a Sunday puzzle, and the result is that there's space for yummy fill:
  • ARGY-BARGY is a [Heated dispute in Halifax] or across the Atlantic. It's also (sans hyphen) the title of a Squeeze album.
  • OUT-AND-OUT means [Total].
  • "SO IT GOES" is clued with its French counterpart, ["C'est la vie!"].
  • EOHIPPUS takes me back to high-school biology. It's the [Dog-sized creature thought to be the horse's earliest ancestor]. Eo = early, hippus = horse.
  • MR. MAGOO is, apparently, [Waldo's uncle, in toons]. He had a nephew named Waldo? MR. SULU is a [Sci-fi character named for a Philippines sea]. Don't you dare complain that the MR. component is duplicated in this puzzle. These entries are terrific, and I like the juxtaposition. Imagine if they had swapped places. Old myope on the Enterprise's bridge? The starship surely would have crashed. And Mr. Magoo's Asian houseboy might have been treated more respectfully if the show's lead had been Mr. Sulu.
  • IN LIMBO means [Left hanging], and an ODDBALL is a [Weirdo].
I do wonder, when I see a constructor's work only in the LA Times and I like the puzzles (as I do this one), if the byline contains another pen name for editor Rich Norris or if it's just a constructor who isn't particularly prolific.

It's my impression that among the CrosSynergy team of constructors, the one whose themeless "Sunday Challenge" puzzles are most likely to contain triple-stacked 15-letter answers is Martin Ashwood-Smith. He's got another one today, with triple stacks at the top and bottom. Favorite clues/answers:
  • [11/5/08 headlines] are ELECTION RESULTS. For a moment, I thought the answer would be more specific and wondered who Ashwood-Smith picked to win the presidency.
  • Two consecutive "swing" clues are [Swing site], the PORCH, and [Swing players], or BIG BANDS.
  • Three things you don't want to be called wander aimlessly about the grid. DODO is clued as [Old fogy], CRETIN as [Hardly a brainiac], and NUTS as [Ding-a-lings]. There's also a NERD, clued as an [Unpopular sort], but true nerds don't care if they're not popular among the CRETIN jock crowd. The people who matter to them are fond of them.
  • BONGS! In the crossword! Water pipes for smoking dope? Uh, no. Just [Big bell sounds]. My favorite brunch place is right across the street from Cafe Bong.