Patrick Berry's second Sunday variety puzzle 9:49
Patrick Blindauer and Andrea Carla Michaels' New York Times crossword, "Made for TV-Movies"
The title monkeys with the usual hyphenation of made-for-TV movies because each of the five 21-letter theme entries is a mashup of TV and movie titles (Jeopardy! "Before and After" category style), clued accordingly:
The theme didn't resonate much for me, but I liked a lot of the fill and I wasn't in the mood for a tough puzzle that worked my head so Andrea and Patrick's easy offering was right on target. Before moving along to the highlights, allow me to grumble about 93D: [Something you love to play with]. NEW TOY feels like a contrived phrase rather than a solidly in-the-language term. And now, on with the show:
A couple other comments: 124A: TANAKA is the answer to [Tomoyuki ___, creator of Godzilla]. I'm sure some of you comic/sci fi nerds knew that one, but I didn't. I'm talking about the folks who instantly knew that AQUAMAN was the 14D: [Superhero with an octopus named Topo]. 118D: [Stumblers' sounds] clues ERS, and I just grumbled about that in the Saturday LAT. When is there ever a reason to pluralize "er"? "Wow, that was a lot of ers in your lecture. You should have practced more"? Er, no. Sure, I'm used to this in crosswords, but "ambulances take people to ERs" seems like a more natural plural, doesn't it?
Updated Sunday morning:
Henry Hook's Boston Globe crossword, "Grad Tidings," in Across Lite
The most impressive part of this puzzle—in which 12 recipients of an HONORARY HARVARD DEGREE are presented—is the upper right corner where SEIJI OZAWA is stacked atop VACLAV HAVEL. Can you believe Hook found workable fill that crossed those two answers? Some of the crossings were know-it-or-you-don't stuff, like TRECE (Spanish for "thirteen," or [Unlucky "numero"]) and KAZAN (["On the Waterfront" director]), that won't give much help to solvers who can't spell SEIJI OZAWA or VACLAV HAVEL without blinking.
My toughest crossing was where CANIO meets OH KAY—one ["Pagliacci" role] I don't know crossing a [1926 Gershwins musical] I've never heard of. Second gnarliest crossing was [PCS file suffix] EPS providing the P in RIPSAW, clued with [It cuts with the grain]. I don't know what the EPS file type is.
INCAN is clued as [Vintage Peruvian]. I read at the Library of Congress's Exploring the Early Americas exhibition that the Incan Empire occupied a larger swath of land than any other empire in history, but the map here shows much less territory than the British Empire had in its heyday.
Merl Reagle's Philadelphia Inquirer crossword, "Truly Cheesy Puns"
Merl unleashes his inner punster (and his outer one) with a set of cheese puns:
Favorite clue in the fill: [Life partner?] for LIMB, as in "life and limb."
Edgar Fontaine's syndicated Los Angeles Times crossword, "Initial Exposé"
Fontaine takes seven famous people who use initials in lieu of first and middle names, assigns them familiar phrases that could be expansions of their initials, and clues them accordingly:
Moving beyond the theme, I raised an eyebrow at 6D, ["God Bless America" inning]. That's the SEVENTH, but at Wrigley Field, the seventh-inning stretch is when we sing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game." Is this an L.A. or New York thing? The DIK-DIK (39D) is an [Antelope named for the sound it makes when frightened]. Anyone hit the skids where OTHO the 19A: [Emperor aftr Galba] met SHOGI, which is 3D: [Chess, Japanese-style]? There's a G-STRING at 9D: [It doesn't conceal much]. And in the category of Old-School Crosswordese, we have the THOLE, or 82A: [Pin on a rowboat]. My Mac's dictionary tells me THOLE is also a Scottish or archaic verb meaning "endure (something) with without resistance or complaint; tolerate." I thole crossword fill like THOLE.
Martin Ashwood-Smith's themeless CrosSynergy "Sunday Challenge"
The king of triple-stacks ponies up a pair of triple-stacks in today's relatively easy puzzle, with the following 15-letter answers:
Five quick hits from the rest of the puzzle:
Patrick Berry's variety crossword, "Ringing Endorsement"—the NYT's second Sunday puzzle
I hope the Magazine section made space for this puzzle because it's brilliantly conceived and executed. If the millions of people who get the Sunday Times but wouldn't bother to dig around online for a puzzle miss out, they're...really missing out.
The 15x15 grid has no black squares separating the answers in a given row or column, and sometimes the crossing answers have a conflict because a square needs a different letter in each direction. How clever is it to have those intersections marked by the always-there letter O as a ring around the other letter? And how on earth did Patrick Berry manage to not just fill the grid with workable answers but also get those O-plus-another-letter crossings to fit just so and to get the circled letters to spell something out AND to include theme entries as the first and last Across answers? The mind, she boggles. And then the title is "Ringing Endorsement," a familiar phrase—and the theme is "an endorsement of sorts." This puzzle is so elegantly wrought.
Will Shortz, please beg Patrick Berry to make a bunch more of these and publish them in the Times. Patrick Berry, please get to work on a sequel to Puzzle Masterpieces and include more of these puzzles. I recognize that the "Ringing Endorsement" title wouldn't necessarily be an apt description for other puzzles in this vein, but that's OK—I just want more of these challenges.
The [Speaker of this puzzle's endorsement] is O. HENRY, and [What this puzzle's endorsement refers to] is NEW YORK CITY. The circled squares spell out this: "It'll be a great place if they ever finish it." I found I'd missed a couple of the ringed O crossings when I was reading the circled letters, having not checked every crossing clue, but it all came together in the end, wrapped up in a bow.
August 08, 2009