July 22, 2009

Thursday, 7/23

NYT 5:23
LAT 4:00
CS 5:47 (J—paper)
Ink Well untimed

Gary & Stephen Kennedy's New York Times crossword

All right, I'm gonna have to piece together this theme while blogging about this 15x16 puzzle. I see that Baha Men's overplayed [Hit song from 2000...and a hint to 10 symmetrically arranged Across answers], WHO LET THE DOGS OUT, pertains to some "___ dog" phrases. I see two of the five pairs of symmetrical entries, and expect to encounter the rest by eyeballing the grid. Oh! I see now. The 10 extra answers need to include the DOG in order to match up with their clue. Give a solver enough wine and she will only notice one of the 10 clues doesn't quite work for the given answer.

  • 1A, 74A. If you're a HOT dog, you're a [Show-off]. I had HAM and let the crossings change it to HOT without paying attention to the clue/answer mismatch. 74A is EAT, or [Cutthroat]—dog EAT dog, with two missing dogs that have been let out. The unanswered question, of course, is "Who let the dogs out?" I blame the Kennedys.
  • 9A, 72A. A [U.S. Marine] is a DEVIL dog, and an [Old sailor] is a SALTY dog.
  • 34A, 47A. A dog CATCHER is an [Animal control officer], while a dog BREEDER is a [Person who raises and sells pups].
  • 15A, 70A. [Leader of the pack] is the ALPHA dog, and a LUCKY dog is [One falling into good fortune].
  • 36A, 46A. [Folded corner] of a page is a dog-EAR, and a DOG tag is a [G.I.'s ID].

Now that's I've scrounged up those 10 answers—nine of which I did not look askance at while solving but certainly ought to have!—I'm ready for bed. What a workout! Before then, 10 clues:
  • 42A. [Alexander ___, Russian who popularized a chess opening] is PETROV.
  • 20a. MAGLEV, short for magnetic levitation, is a [Bullet train type].
  • 25A. [Innards] are VISCERA! I love both words.
  • 3D. [Kraft Foods drink] is TANG, which I absolutely loved as a kid. Is this a bonus tie-in to the moon landing anniversary, what with the astronauts supposedly drinking Tang back in the day?
  • 4D. [With "the" and 32-Across, describing an old Matryoshka doll] clues MADE IN / the USSR.
  • 10D. [The 31st vis-a-vis the 1st, e.g.] is an EVE, as in New Year's Eve.
  • 11D. [She-foxes] are called VIXENS.
  • 21D. [Super Bowl of 2023] will be numbered LVII, or 57.
  • 23D. Mount Everest is the world's highest mountain, and #2 is K2. The [K2 locale] is the KASHMIR, which might also be clued by way of the Led Zeppelin song.
  • 37D, 48D. [With 48-Down, for example, south of the border] clues POR / EJEMPLO, or literally "for example."
Updated Thursday morning:

Patrick Blindauer's CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, "Metal Detection"—Janie's review

Patrick tests our mettle today by filling his puzzle with 60 squares of theme fill―six words and phrases each containing the name of a familiar metal. Ready? There's:
  • 18A. MARIGOLDS ["The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon ___" (Pulitzer-winning play)]. No one less than Shelley Winters starred when this played on Broadway in 1978; and Carol Kane was in the cast as well. This play received the Pulitzer mind you. How long did it run? 16 performances! While its Broadway run was seriously truncated, it's had a healthy afterlife in regional theatre and as a film. But can you say "tough business"?! In the grid, notice how the first five letters of MARIGOLDS sit atop the last five letters of
  • 20A. PHIL SILVERS [Top banana of "Top Banana"]. Well, this one ran for just under a year in the 1951-52 season and won a Tony Award for its leading man. Score was by Johnny Mercer (he of yesterday's "I'm an Old Cowhand..." fame). "Top banana" is a theatrical term that's derived from vaudeville and refers to the starring act in a vaudeville performance.
  • 38A. REMINGTON STEELE [Pierce Brosnan project of the 1980s] which is crossed at center by 30D. IRONY [Literary device in "The Gift of the Magi"]. Now that's just lovely, the way those two cross.
  • 58A. COPPERFIELD [David in Dickens]. And here again, this fill's first five letters sit atop the last five letters of
  • 65A. BRASSERIE [Tavern that serves beer and food].
Not only has Patrick given us a lot of fresh theme-fill (marigolds looks to be a CS debut, and Phil Silvers and Copperfield major-puzzle firsts), but look how he's paired the precious metals gold and silver; the ferrous metals (iron-containing) iron and steel; and the alloy brass with its major component, copper. Additionally, note the bonus fill we get with of RUST [Oxidize]. Those ferrous metals especially are subject to oxidation. All of which is to say, between the quality of the fill and the placement of the fill in the grid, this is one tightly executed theme.

But all metal-work and no play makes Patrick a dull boy. Happily, with Patrick's puzzles, play is usually not far behind. Today's is no exception. In addition to the thematic "...MARIGOLDS," we also get HAMLET [Play set in Denmark] and ["It Might as Well be Spring" musical] STATE FAIR, which came into being as a movie and was later adapted for the stage. Another movie in the mix is ["Cat] BALLOU" [(1965 Fonda/Marvin film); and while the clue doesn't reference this small-screen series, [Top guns] does yield (The) A-TEAM.

Where there are plays, there're gonna be players. Joining PHIL SILVERS in the spotlight are ["Amadeus" star Tom] HULCE, [Actor Milo] O'SHEA, [Raymond ...] BURR, and LON [Chaney of "The Monster"].

You may recall that yesterday's puzzle also featured singer/actor Olivia Newton-John. Now just take a look at the nifty way Patrick's clued that old stand-by SIR: [Title for Olivier, Newton or John]. Love it. (For the uninitiated, that's Sir Laurence Olivier, Sir Isaac Newton and Sir Elton John.)

Btw, our prolific constructor references his own puzzle (yesterday's NYT) not only with OXIDE but in spelling out the first name AES, ADLAI [Ike's opponent, twice]. Of course, that's Ike as in "I LIKE [___ Ike" (campaign slogan)].

And, goin' out on a limb here... ASIAN for [Like some elephants] reminded me of the joke about a particular post-bank robbery exchange:
Detective: Can you describe the robber?
Teller: Like I told you—it was an elephant!!
Detective: Okay. Okay. So—was it an Asian elephant or an African elephant?
Teller: Wuh...?
Detective: Look—the Asian elephant has small ears; the African elephant has big ears. So...?
Teller: How would I know?? He had a stocking over his head!!

Dan Naddor's Los Angeles Times crossword

My full writeup is across town at the other blog. No time this morning for more than a sentence:

The theme is phrases that you wouldn't necessarily expect to see in a crossword grid that can be clued with [Take___], where the blank is filled with in/out, on/off, and up/down; 72 theme squares have, alas, forced some compromises in the fill.

I'll be back this afternoon to talk about Ben Tausig's Ink Well puzzle.

Okay, so I lied. It's Thursday evening, not afternoon. Long day.

Ben Tausig's Ink Well/Chicago Reader crossword, "J Play"

The theme: H changes to J in six phrases. A blanket hog becomes BLANKET JOG, or [Run taken in the extreme cold?]. I'll take the blanket, hold the jog. Playing on Hot or Not, we have JOT OR NOT, [Rating site that asks users whether they would use a given notepad?]. A group hug turns into a GROUP JUG, or [Big wine vessel passed around?]. The funniest-sounding theme entry is JELLO DOLLY, or [Hand truck for carting around a certain no-bake dessert?]. Remember Carol Channing in Hello, Dolly!? It was just in the news that Johnny Depp wants to play Channing in a musical biopic, and that she's given her blessing. It's the natural evolution for him, going from Willy Wonka to the Mad Hatter to Carol Channing. Anyway...back to the puzzle. The two Down theme answers are JAIL SATAN, a [Chant from a crowd angry at the Antichrist?], and ICE JOCKEY, [One who plays music at skating parties?].

Ben likes the concept of the word at 12-Down, but boy, that one is tough. I needed all seven crossings and still didn't recognize it as a word. PANEITY is [The state of being bread (!)]. A television has much less PANEITY than a bagel, but does the TV have more PANEITY than air does?

Top answers and clues:
  • BEER NUTS are [Bar freebies] and [Rolls at a bar] are SUSHI.
  • Speaking of edibles, CHAI TEA is widely available in the U.S. now, but it's clued as a [Punjabi breakfast beverage].
  • Brand spankin' new clue for ETON: [English college with a recent swine flu outbreak].
  • The [Well-to-do Southern California town] LA JOLLA is near San Diego, I believe. I fervently hope the local high school has a team called the La Jolla Hoyas.
  • In the category of "infelicitous associations," we've got SUNDAE clued as a [Fudge-drenched treat, often]...right next to POO.

The tough stuff is concentrated in the PANEITY corner. We get the E-less spelling variant ABSINTH for [Wormwood plant product now legal in the U.S.: Var.], [Challenger passenger Judith] RESNIK, arbitrary ABAA for [Simple rhyme scheme], ETHYL [___ alcohol], and Sen. KYL, the [Jon who's junior to John McCain, in Arizona].