March 07, 2009

Sunday, 3/8

LAT 8:39
PI 8:29
NYT 7:21
BG 7:05
CS 4:10

What do you write when you want to say just "One More Thing"? Zack Kushner's New York Times crossword adds a P.S. somewhere within a phrase or at the end of it to change the meaning. The hands-down winner, the theme entry that made me laugh out loud, was USE THE FORCEPS, LUKE, clued as [Advice to actor Perry when delivering a baby?]. I just picked up my son from a Star Wars: The Clone Wars-themed birthday party where there was a Yoda hippity-hop ball, so the 90210-ization of Jedi force was welcome. The other theme entries were pretty solid, but they didn't hit the funny bone like 47-Across did:

  • [Rachael Ray activity eliciting oohs and aahs?] is COOKING WITH GASPS. "Now you're cooking with gas!" is not something I've ever said, but it's a phrase out there.
  • [Prepared for heavy on/off traffic?] clues BUILT RAMPS TOUGH, playing on the Dodge ad slogan, "Built Ram Tough."
  • [Cleopatra's last request?] might've been ASPS FOR ME (as for me...).
  • [Travel is voted most popular?] clues GOING TOPS THE POLLS. Aw, travel? The GOING could've gone another way, absent the Sunday morning breakfast test.
  • LONG TIME, NO SEEPS is clued as the [Result of a good basement waterproofing years ago?].
  • [Unassailable beefs?] are BULLETPROOF CARPS.
We've got one of those roll-your-own words here—REGRAB, or [Get a better grip on]. There's a smidgen of blah crosswordese, like EBOLI, or [Where Christ stopped in a Carlo Levi novel] and SISALS, or [Rope fibers]. But there's also lively stuff like a PRETZEL, or [Ballpark snack]. [Steal from, as in Grand Theft Auto] clues CARJACK. There's a comedian's SCHTICK, like ["I don't get no respect," to Rodney Dangerfield]. H.G. WELLS is [The Father of Science Fiction]. Someone's HIT LIST is clued as [It's dangerous to be on this]. There's some pasta etymology: RAVIOLI means [Literally, "little turnips"]. And GEORGE is clued as [Any of boxer Foreman's five sons]; yes, George Foreman likes to name his sons after himself.


It took me a while to find the hidden word in Merl Reagle's Philadelphia Inquirer crossword, "See the Secret Word." In Across Lite, the note explaining the theme is appended to the first theme clue, 22-Across. And that note is long. As a Mac user, I can see the full clue only in teeny print with the Across Lite window components resized and stretched fully across a 21" screen (there's no mouse-over pop-up unless you're in Windows)—I don't know why the note wasn't moved to the Across Lite Notepad, where such things usually appear. Annoying. Anyway: The note says that the same six-letter word is hidden nonconsecutively within each theme answer, and it's left to the solver to figure out that the hidden word is...hidden. To wit:
  • [Really resentful] is what IN HIGH DUDGEON means.
  • [Godforsaken place] is in THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE.
  • [Top Ten hit of 1964] is THE LITTLE OLD / LADY FROM PASADENA. The two parts of this answer are stacked together in the grid.
  • [Michael Collins' cause] was IRISH INDEPENDENCE.
  • [Source of bounty] is THE GOOSE THAT LAID/ THE GOLDEN EGG, again with those two parts stacked.
  • [Wreaths and such are HOLIDAY DECORATIONS.
  • [Clarke classic] is CHILDHOOD'S END.
Rich Norris, a.k.a. Gia Christian, constructed today's syndicated Los Angeles Times Sunday crossword (which isn't the puzzle the LA Times happens to run on Sundays). In "HR Derby," an H takes the place of an R in each theme answer:
  • Macroeconomics turns into MACHO ECONOMICS, or [The Governator's budget philosophy?].
  • Crap shooting—is this the same as shooting craps?—becomes CHAP SHOOTING, or [Casual London photo session?].
  • [Used marked cards against Godzilla?] clues CHEATED A MONSTER (created a monster). This is my favorite of the theme entries.
  • [Bell ringer's dream?] is committing the PERFECT CHIME.
  • [Butcher's finest?] is the CREAM OF THE CHOP.
  • WATER CHESS is clued as a [Game on a floating board?]. I'd rather have the water chess be played out à la water polo, with the board painted on the swimming pool bottom and the players combining chess with synchronized swimming's underwater movement techniques.
  • The old TV show Green Acres morphs into GREEN ACHES, or [Environmentalist's discomfort?].
The most interesting word in the fill is GYNARCHY, or [Government by women]. There is frightfully little of that to be found.

This weekend's old Boston Globe crossword in Across Lite is a savory treat from Henry Hook. In "Versatile Viands," each theme entry contains a word that's also a food. There's a HAM RADIO OPERATOR and KEVIN BACON, a Wisconsin CHEESEHEAD, and assorted veggies, like SERGEANT PEPPER, a MUSHROOM CLOUD, and the ONION NEWS NETWORK. There are two more theme answers stacked together to tie these all together—they are both OMELET FILLINGS and PIZZA TOPPINGS. Between the two-meal elegance of the theme, the stacking of theme entries, the sections of white space (look at the three sections running down the middle of the grid, with all those 6+ letter answers bunched together), and the overall smoothness of the fill, and you've got yourself a beaut of a Sunday puzzle. Really, the only thing I looked a little askance at was CAMIONS, or [Trucks]—it's a legitimate dictionary entry and all, but not a word I'd seen before. I wanted CAMINOS, as in the '70s car/truck blend, El Camino.

Bruce Venzke and Stella Daily's themeless CrosSynergy "Sunday Challenge" has an unusual-looking grid, with stacked pairs of 15-letter answers criss-crossed by single 15's going down. There are plenty of rather arid answers that look like the sort of things solvers will be Googling today:
  • [Song of warning for sailors] is ASLEEP IN THE DEEP. I've never heard of this.
  • [What it takes to make a thing go right, in a hip-hop song] clues TWO. I don't know this song either. So sea chanteys and rap, both not my forte.
  • [Mid-10th century year] is CMLI, or 951.
  • Never heard of [Venture capitalist John] DOERR, either.
  • The descriptive phrase [A recessed part of] clues SET INTO. As in "the blue tile is a recessed part of the mosaic"/"the blue tile is set into the mosaic."
  • [Extinct Indo-European language] is OSCAN.
  • The ISAR [River of Munich] is not among the most common crossword rivers.
  • [Where many recordings are found] is ON CD'S.
  • [Adds more lubricant] clues RE-OILS.
  • [Marilyn's "River of No Return" costar] is RORY Calhoun. I know Calhoun only from the cannibalism horror movie, Motel Hell, and a Simpsons reference.
  • There's an unexpected plural of an abbreviation in the answer to [Where to write GIs]: APO'S.