October 29, 2008

Thursday, 10/30

Sun 4:54
NYT 4:37
CS 3:53
LAT 3:41

Chuck Hamilton's New York Times crossword has a solid theme, nothing gimmicky or wild about it:

  • What's the DIRECTOR'S SHOUT? "Lights...camera...action!" So the other three theme entries end with those words:
  • The NORTHERN LIGHTS are clued as [So-called "fox fires"]. Wow, really? I haven't heard that term before. Aurora borealis, sure, but not fox fires. I went to college in Minnesota, so I had a chance to see the Northern Lights once, but this clue hid them from me.
  • One type of [Recording device] is a VIDEO CAMERA.
  • A [Certain lawsuit] is a CLASS ACTION.
So, the theme doesn't shout "It's Thursday!" but the fill and clues let you know that the first half of the week is over. To wit:
  • The BOSC pear is clued vaguely-yet-specifically as a [Fruit variety with a sweet-spiced flavor].
  • Did you know that [Uruguay and Paraguay] are RIOS, or rivers, as well as nations? I did not.
  • Can you complete the Latin phrase, ["In principio ___ Verbum"]? The missing word is ERAT, and the phrase translates to "in the beginning was the word."
  • [___ Sailer, three-time 1956 skiing gold medalist] is named TONI. I have a faint memory of learning this in another crossword and then forgetting it.
  • ROMEO? Everyone knows ROMEO. The clue, ["See, how she leans her cheek upon her hand!" speaker] didn't ring a bell for me, though.
  • A final [Resting place] is a BIER. Don't go there for just a nap, okay?
  • [Stock holders] that hold livestock are BARNS. [Stock holder] that holds all the merchandise that's in stock is a STORE.
  • To [Get the point?] is to SCORE the point. My mind traveled in the wrong directions for this one.
  • I'm not familiar with ODOR used to mean [Repute]. Definition 6 bears it out.
  • [Take-home?] isn't referring to pay, but restaurant food—LEFTOVERS.
  • [Johnny with the 1958 hit "Willie and the Hand Jive"] is OTIS. Hey! A non-elevator, non-Milo and OTIS! Here's a video of Johnny Otis, his band, and his hand-jiving crew of women.
  • NED'S [___ Point Lighthouse, Massachusetts landmark since 1838]? Yes, that's correct. No, I never heard of it either. Once on an airplane, the in-flight magazine crossword's theme was famous lighthouses. Yeah, I worked the crossings for every last one of 'em.

Will Nediger's Sun "Themeless Thursday" was not too fearsome. My favorite answers and clues:
  • BEST WISHES always make for nice [Closing words].
  • LINE DANCE is clued as the [Electric slide, e.g.].
  • An [Inscrutable person] is a SPHINX.
  • SNL, or Saturday Night Live, is clued with [Chase scenes were often seen during its broadcasts]. Car chases? No: Chevy Chase.
  • BOBTAIL is a [Docked thing]. With the BO*T in place, I was first thinking of boats.
  • To DOZE OFF is to [Start napping].
  • SAME-SEX is [Like some marriages].
Oddball answers and clues:
  • [Colichemarde descendant] is an EPEE. Why not read up on the colichemarde?
  • [Castries is its capital] clues ST. LUCIA. I should know this, but I didn't.
  • [Holy Roman Emperor from the House of Welf] is OTTO IV. House of Welf is also known as House of Guelph.
  • ZIT is clued as [Pussy thing on a puss]. Nobody needs to see "pussy" meaning "filled with pus" in their crossword puzzle, do they?
  • An INK ERASER is a [Stationery store purchase]?


Dan Naddor drops nine (!) theme entries into his LA Times crossword. RR XINGS (railroad crossings) are exemplified in eight answers—two-word phrases (and one three-worder) in which adjacent R's end one word and begin the following one. The eight answers are placed in criss-crossing pairs that meet at the R's (I've added circles to highlight these)—so the RR entries are crossing, hence the RR XINGS in the middle of the puzzle. Two of the theme answers intersect with RR XINGS, so theme entries are traipsing all over this grid.
  • WIENER ROAST is a [Cookout with dogs]. It crosses WAR ROOMS, which are [Theoretical battle sites].
  • CESAR ROMERO, who [played Hernando Cortez in "Captain From Castile"], crosses a CAR RADIO, or [Mobile receiver].
  • BARRIER REEF is a [Lagoon border], and it crosses tracks with "LET 'ER RIP" (["Go for it!"]).
  • PETER RABBIT [snuck into Mr. McGregor's garden] and crosses rails with the [1984 Tommy Lee Jones film set on the banks of the Mississippi, with "The"], RIVER RAT.
I'm not double-checking my arithmetic, but I think that makes for a total of 77 theme squares. That's quite a lot. The surrounding fill doesn't fill me with awe (very few puzzles do that), but it's all solid stuff with no woeful obscurities or clunky abbreviations. Perhaps the worst entry, for my taste, is HEC ["__ Ramsey": '70s TV Western], but plenty of other crosswords have used HEC before. So the high theme-square count didn't force uncomfortable compromises in quality. Yay!

Two favorite parts of the fill actually introduce a clue/fill duplication, which I didn't notice while solving: [Congressional leader?] is a HARD C sound, and colorful BOOZE is clued as [Hard stuff]. I also liked it that [Peter or Paul but not Mary] didn't clue POPE this time—now it's APOSTLE. Have we seen that clue/answer combo before?

Today's CrosSynergy puzzle is by Bob Klahn, so you know it'll have more challenging clues than most CrosSynergy offerings. In the "Getting Approval" theme, three phrases ingest an OK and take on new meaning:
  • Guitar string + OK = GUITAR STROKING, or [Strumming?].
  • [Harnesses a Woolf?] is YOKES VIRGINIA, playing on "Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus."
  • A tenant farmer turns into a TOKEN ANT FARMER, or [Lone-minority bug breeder?].
The clues that stood out for me are these:
  • [Majority shareholder?] for LION, as in the lion's share being the most.
  • [Didn't go fast?] clues ATE, as in "didn't engage in a fast."
  • [Fly opening?] is the GAD from gadfly and has nothing to do with a zipper that's down.
  • [Place to make a splash] is for the child in all of us—a PUDDLE.
  • [It's south of SIBERIA] clues MONGOLIA. Anyone else try to fill that space with EAST ASIA?
  • [Will-gotten wealth] is OLD MONEY. Without the W, ill-gotten wealth is pelf or lucre.
  • SALSA is a [Dance or dip], and a dip's also a dance move just to muddle things for the solver.