October 04, 2008

Sunday, 10/5

NYT 10:53
PI 9:34
LAT 7:12
BG 6:21
CS 4:14

WIJ's answers to Silvestri's NYT Second Sunday cryptic crossword are here.

Well, I didn't get around to the Newsday "Saturday Stumper" before I left for the day (accompanying someone on her kitten adoption outing—four-month-old tortoiseshell cat who was an excellent car passenger). I got home mid-afternoon, but just when I was ready to settle in with the crossword, a friend called and we spent three hours on the phone. And now it's time to move on to the Sunday puzzles before I go in reverse to finish up Saturday.

The Sunday New York Times crosswordis a jumbo (23x23 vs. the usual 21x21) puzzle by Byron Walden. The title is "Fault-Finding," which makes it sound custom-made for nitpickers. (But I don't think it is.) 117-Down is TYPO, [What each starred clue — and its answer — contains]. I could identify the typos in the clues, but when I finished the puzzle, the theme answers still looked kosher. "Where are the typos?" I wondered. Finally they jumped out at me:

  • TWENTY-POUND NOTE, like the other starred answers, contains the letters TYPO within it. Its clue, [Common Guernsey bull], has its typo near the end; the note is a common bill in British currency.
  • PRETTY POISON is a [1968 firm featuring a murderous cheerleader], with firm standing in for film.
  • CITY POLICE are clued as an [Urban farce] but are an urban force.
  • CELEBRITY POKER is clued as [Where stars can be seen fluffing and folding]. I love the clue because it sounds like the answer should be LAUNDROMAT OF THE RICH AND FAMOUS, but change fluffing to bluffing and it all makes sense.
  • DIRTY POOL isn't really [What theaters play], but rather, what cheaters play. I didn't figure out this clue typo until blogging it just now.
  • A dean is typoed into a [Bean, e.g.], cluing a UNIVERSITY POST.
  • TREATY PORT is clued [Onetime regal status of Shanghai or Canton]. I think the clue typo is regal for legal.
  • [Get blankets] clues those wet blankets, PARTY POOPERS.
  • A [Novice in an ad campaign] is a PUBLICITY POSTER. Hmm...must be novice for notice?
  • Terrible drivers rack up penalty points on their insurance, so PENALTY POINTS is clued [Bad drivers back them up].
I like the theme concept of having a typo in each clue that changes the clue's meaning. Having a hidden TYPO embedded in each theme entry elevates the puzzle's coolness. In the fill, there are 36 answers that are 7 to 9 letters long, so it's a bit like having a themeless Byron puzzle gift-wrapped in a themed Sunday puzzle. My favorites among the non-thematic answers:
  • PRO FORMA means [Perfunctory].
  • I like SECONDO, or [Lower part of a duet], because that was the name of Stanley Tucci's character in Big Night. (Tony Shalhoub played his brother Primo.) Speaking of musical terms I know little about, my third-grader just learned about allegro, presto, and largo and now understands more about music than his mother.
  • KETCHUP is a [Whopper topper].
  • The speaker of a very recent crossword quote, Albert EINSTEIN, appears at 56-Across cross-referenced to 47-Down, as he was a PATENT examiner.
  • SNOG is British slang for "make out," so it's clued [Kensington kiss].
  • I didn't know that the [Region including Texarkana] was called the RICE BELT.
  • U.S. TROOPS makes a nice entry. They're clued as [G.I.'s], though I think the term also includes the Navy, Air Force, and Marines who aren't, I don't think, called G.I.'s.
  • BEHOOVE! I know Byron likes tennis, so [Serve well] made me think of tennis rather than behooving.
  • I like [Pulitzer-winning journalist Seymour] HERSH, whose name doesn't show up in crosswords much.
  • STOP YELLING is clued ["Pipe down!"]. Maybe it's not a classical sort of crossword entry, but if you have a kid in the house, you probably find this phrase to be a natural, "in the language" phrase.
  • SPATLESE! Yum, make mine a Riesling. Spätlese is a [German wine made from the late harvest].
  • IN CLOVER means [On easy street]. Am I the only one who thought of "sittin' in butter" first? What movie or TV show taught me that one?
  • I don't recall seeing the verb phrase SERVE OUT in a crossword before. [Complete, as a Senate term] is the clue.
  • Oh! Here's BUSTA RHYMES, clued as the ["Pass the Courvoisier" rapper]. Best entry in the puzzle, unless you hate contemporary pop culture references in your crosswords.
  • DUE EAST is clued [How the Great Sphinx looks]. That clue made me think in all sorts of wrong directions.
  • I always like OGPU, the [Forerunner of the K.G.B.], because OGPU just looks and sounds so silly.
  • THE CELL was that bizarre [2000 Jennifer Lopez thriller] in which she's a psychologist or psychiatrist who taps into the hallucinogenic dreams of a deranged killer. It's also what people call Cellular Field, where the Chicago White Sox play. I'm not sure if there are bars on The Cell.
I don't like PRERINSE ([Make ready for the dishwasher]), because what we're doing is rinsing those dishes. (The answer crosses two theme entries.) SCAREY is clued [Chilling: Var.], and that spelling variant doesn't appear in my Random House Webster's Unabridged. It does cross three theme entries so I won't give Byron too much guff for that.

Byron excels at writing clues, if you ask me. Among my favorites:
  • [Socrates or Pythagoras, e.g.] clue the noun ANCIENT.
  • [What "matar" means on an Indian menu] is PEAS. For example, aloo matar (spellings vary) is potatoes and peas in yummy spices.
  • U NU is a [Bygone P.M. with a palindromic name]. How can you not love a palindromic leader?
  • [Old car with the slogan "We are driven"] was DATSUN. Why did I have Mazda in mind?
  • [Sunroof and spoilers, e.g.] are OPTIONS on a new car.
  • Two clothing terms are practically neighbors: [Short jackets for boys] and [Short jackets for women] are ETONS and BOLEROS, respectively. [Jacket material?] is a BLURB on a book jacket, though.
  • [Snaps back] means HIKES if you're talking about what happens to a football.
  • [The fifth element] on the periodic table is BORON. Have you seen the movie, The Fifth Element? I liked it.
  • [Weekly with 30+ million circulation] is PARADE magazine. Mind you, that's not 30 million readers. Some people probably toss it with the other parts of the newspaper they don't read. If Parade's Marilyn vos Savant irks you, read this.
  • [1977 flick with the tagline "Terror just beneath the surface"] is ORCA. I saw it in the CINEMA ([Showing concern?]) and I think it was bad.
Some of the tougher clues:
  • [West Flanders site of three W.W. I battles] is YPRES. That's one of those European war place names that pops up periodically in crosswords.
  • [Stainless steel, for one] is an IRON ALLOY.
  • PETIT GRIS is a [Snail variety whose name means "small gray"]. I'm not up on my snail nomenclature, but the French isn't too hard.
  • [Pizzeria chain, familiarly] is UNO'S. UNoS is the United Network for Organ Sharing. Don't mix up your .com and your .org, or you may end up with a deep dish pepperoni when what you needed was a new kidney.
  • [Fixed motor parts] are STATORS. Nope, I don't know what they do.
  • [Sport for rikishi] is SUMO. 
  • [Strongly green] is VIRID. Not a common word, but if you've taken an oil painting class you probably remember viridian as a vivid green color.
  • A [Terse order] might be "DO IT."
  • TOMTITS are [Small birds, in British lingo].

Gail Grabowski's syndicated Los Angeles Times Sunday crossword is called "Bad Guys in Hiding" and appropriately, a bunch of PERPs are hiding in the theme entries:
  • PEPPER POT is a [Highly seasoned stew].
  • SUPERPOWER is what [The United States, e.g.] is.
  • A [Search and rescue squad member] is a CHOPPER PILOT.
  • COPPER PIPING might be a [Plumber's order].
  • BUMPER POOL is a [Game with five red and five white balls]. When I was a kid, we used to play bumper pool in my grandparents' basement.
  • A DIAPER PIN is [not needed with Huggies].
  • An [Unrealized gain] is a PAPER PROFIT.
  • [Like Tylenol capsules] means TAMPER-PROOF.
Tying these all together is 101-Down, PERP. I'm not used to seeing SOUTHPAW used to describe athletes other than baseball players, but here the clue is [Jimmy Connors or John McEnroe]. Favorite answer: PLAY DUMB, or [Keep the surprise party a secret].

Merl Reagle's Philadelphia Inquirer crossword, "Pun Clearance," came with a Notepad annotation: "Puns kind of accumulate around my house, so I have to clear them out every so often." So the theme is unrelated puns that Merl hasn't been able to group with related puns. My favorite of the puns is MALLARDJUSTED, clued with ["I'm not a bad duck; I'm just ___"]. It's just goofy enough to work. The others are as follows:
  • [What even Paris's dad became when Helen of Troy was kidnapped?] was A PRIAM SUSPECT, playing on "a prime suspect."
  • REMEMBER THE A LA MODE (Alamo) could be a [Sign on an ice cream shop?].
  • "YOU OWE ME ONE, KENOBI" puns on you + Obi-Wan Kenobi. The clue is [Comment to a "Star Wars" character after getting him out of a jam?].
  • [What Nostradamus always said during roll call (to the constant irritation of his teachers)?] was PRESCIENT AND / ACCOUNTED FOR.
  • "Graft and corruption" becomes GRAFTON CORRUPTION, or [What goes on in Sue's books?].
  • THE FORD EXTRADITION plays on the Ford Expedition SUV and is clued as a [Vehicle of choice for transporting suspects?].
There's plenty of good fill in this puzzle—an ODD SENSATION, a MARIACHI, NEUROSCIENCE, P DIDDY, a HOMONYM, and GERONIMO. There was one answer I got completely from the crossings—["Ben-Hur" co-star Stephen et al.] clues BOYDS.

Liz Gorski stands in for Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon this weekend in the time-delayed Across Lite version of the Boston Globe crossword. The theme is described by the title, "They're Playing Our Song." Each theme entry is a song title clued as if it were a wedding song for a fictional character. For example, [Mr. Potato Head's wedding song?] could be I ONLY HAVE EYES FOR YOU, and [Humpty Dumpty's wedding song?] is I FALL TO PIECES. Was this puzzle surprisingly easy for others, or was I just tuned into Liz's wavelength? I believe we'll see one or two more Gorskis in the Globe, probably alternating with Henry Hook puzzles, before the Cox/Rathvon puzzles return. Is it selfish to hope that the others are tougher?

Randolph Ross's themeless CrosSynergy "Sunday Challenge" was about as difficult as the Sunday CrosSynergy puzzle usually is. There's just one word in it that I had to piece together from all the crossings—RIMOSELY is clued as [In a way that causes cracks and crevices]. All the Google hits on the first three pages were dictionary entries or word lists and not pages showing the word being used in writing. Eventually there were some scientific references with such phrases as "Thallus crustose, rimosely to verrucosely areolate" and "may be somewhat squamulose becoming rimosely cracked." So it's not a crossword-friendly word, but the crossings include a triple-stack of 9's and a 15-letter answer. My favorite answers and clues: A PROBOSCIS is a [Schnoz]. [King of pop music] is CAROLE King, with that concealed capital K in the clue. A [Title role played by Tommy Lee Jones] is a U.S. MARSHAL. First I racked my brain trying to think of Jones movies with a character's name in the title, not the character's job. [Cocktail with a kick] is the inedible and explosive MOLOTOV cocktail.