NYT 4:06 by the time I found the typo
(updated at 10:30 Wednesday morning)
Hey! I just reserved my room at the Brooklyn Bridge Marriott and booked my flight for the 2009 American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. The Friday evening program includes a panel about crossword blogging. Listen, don't ask me hard questions if you want me to look smart, okay? (Ridiculously hard questions for the other folks are fine, of course.) Thanks. I hope to see many of you in Brooklyn!
Tim Wescott's New York Times crossword has a foursome of 15-letter entries, but those aren't exactly the theme answers—rather, the theme lies within the first letter of each and a trio of letters in the middle. The center of the grid has a WWW, [Letters after two slashes]. The first letters of the four 15's spell out HTTP, or hypertext transfer protocol. The circled letters within each 15 are a web domain:
I like the visual twist of the theme, but would be happier if the 15's were more unimpeachable as crossword fill and if the 3-letter domains were all split across answer words.
I blew a half minute or so in the applet by typing DUKE instead of [Dick Van ___] DYKE. Dang those adjacent-key typos that yield plausible words in one direction! Toughest answer in the grid: YAKUT, or [Native of NE Siberia]. Those Yakut folks are thousands of miles from the URALS, a [Range extending south from the Kara Sea]. Biggest duplication: ONE P.M. is a [Common lunch hr.], while U.S. ONE is an [Auto route from Me. to Fla.]. Tastiest answer: GUMBO, clued as [Okra stew]; my husband just polished off the last of Sunday's carryout gumbo from Heaven on Seven. Favorite answers: SKORTS are [Women's hybrid clothing], the spork of fashion; and SCREWY means [Off the wall].
Do you know how many 4-letter words there are for your rear end? In Patrick Blindauer's Sun crossword, "Rear Ends," he's taken six 4-letter rears and split them in half, putting 2 letters at each end of a longer phrase:
The British prat and arse are left out, as are the assorted 3-, 5-, 6-, and 7-letter synonyms. Twenty points to Patrick for working in six theme entries without forcing untoward compromises in fill. A bonus of 5 points for BUMPPO, or [Natty of literature]. I don't know what James Fenimore Cooper was thinking when he came up with that character name for The Last of the Mohicans. (You're picturing Daniel Day-Lewis in his flowing locks promising "I will find you!" now, aren't you?)
This is the week for butt themes, apparently, because Ben Tausig's Ink Well/Chicago Reader crossword, "Bum Deal," is also fixated on the hindquarters. The term ASS BACKWARDS holds the key here: The other three theme answers contain synonyms for your rear end (or maybe somebody else's) backwards. To wit: (Whoops, that's last week's puzzle, and Angela blogged it last week, and I did actually read that post.)
ASS BACKWARDS is definitely "in the language" these days, but would be verboten in your standard daily crossword puzzle. I'm glad we have these other indie xwords opening up new angles in puzzling.
Highlights in the clues and fill:
Deb Amlen celebrates New Year's Eve in her Onion A.V. Club crossword. Deb groups four staples of the evening, pairs them with various beginning words, and gives them holiday clues. You have a toast at a party, the Waterford ball drops in Times Square, and people make resolutions for the coming year:
Ben Tausig's Ink Well/Chicago Reader puzzle for this week is called "Chasing Out the Rats." 2008 was the Year of the Rat, and 2009 will be the YEAR OF THE OX. That joins six other theme entries that end with OX:
Other good stuff:
Pamela Amick Klawitter's LA Times crossword has APB'S, or [Emer. broadcasts (and this puzzle's hidden theme)] parked within the four theme entries. I was led astray by the theme answers all starting with S, though SNAP, SOAP, SCRAP, and SAP don't rhyme and have varying letter counts, so I was confused. The theme entries are:
Who doesn't love those [Mythological vengeance deities] known as the FURIES? The [Rodent yielding the fur nutria] is, as luck would have it, called the nutria. It is also called the COYPU. The scientific name of this "large semiaquatic beaverlike rodent" is Myocaster coypus. The word coypu is from the Araucanian (an Indian language family from Chile and Argentina). [Hawaii's "Gathering Place"] is OAHU.
Randolph Ross's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Count Me In," counts in a ME to change each theme entry's base phrase into something new:
This theme type isn't an innovative one, no, but I admire the deft execution of a standard theme variety. The crossword is improved further by lots of longist fill—a NERF BALL crossing SELF-HELP, DODDERS crossing Lou DOBBS, a TANGRAM [Puzzle with geometric shapes], and a STOGIE, for instance. I'm also partial to the [German name for Cologne], KOLN (Köln, actually). I appreciate it when those high-school German classes come in handy.
December 30, 2008