September 14, 2009

Tuesday, 9/15/09

Jonesin' 3:54
NYT 3:18
LAT 3:03
CS untimed

Fran and Lou Sabin's New York Times crossword

Lou Sabin has been contributing crosswords to the NYT since 1950, so he's closing in on the 60-year mark as a Times constructor. He and his wife Fran cooked up a theme featuring THINGS WITH WINGS (38A: [What the answers to all the asterisked clues are]). Those winged things are:

  • 1A. MOTH is [One attracted to a flame].
  • 17A. [Bygone $20 gold coin] is the DOUBLE EAGLE.
  • 58A. The [President's ride] for longer distances is AIR FORCE ONE.
  • 69A. A [Pest you might slap] is a GNAT.
  • 12D. With a golden eagle on the badge, the RAF INSIGNIA is a [Mark on a Brit. military pilot's uniform]. Do the other non-badge insignia for the RAF have wings?
  • 24D. The NIGHTINGALE is a [Nocturnal songster].
It's mildly distracting that there's an ORIOLE'S NEST ([Spherical home in a tree]) running alongside the RAF theme entry, what with orioles having wings. And then opposite the ORIOLE'S NEST are some ENLISTED MEN ([Grunts]), who put me in mind of the RAF. These days, some of those grunts are enlisted women, no?

Old-time nostalgia clue for the day: 49D: [Old "You press the button, we do the rest" sloganeer] is KODAK, and that slogan was created in 1888. High-school nostalgia moment for me: 47A: ["To your health!"] clues PROSIT, the German toast. We learned German drinking songs in high school: Ein Prosit der Gemütlichkeit.

I'll leave it there and try to blog another puzzle or two tonight.

Matt Jones's Jonesin' crossword, "Dietary Restrictions"available now via Google Groups

The four 15-letter theme entries should really be longer, but Matt has lopped off the endings of these foods and reclued them accordingly:
  • 17A. [Guy who grows tubers in Tubingen?] is GERMAN POTATO SAL. Now, I'm guessing that very few, if any, German potato farmers are named Sal, but hey, it's German potato salad with the last two letters removed.
  • 34A. [Revolutionary fixing flats in California?] is MONTEREY JACK CHE, taking away the cheese end and swapping in Che Guevara and a tire jack.
  • 42A. [10-minute film about baseball's Darryl?] is a STRAWBERRY SHORT (minus -cake). Aw, I want the cake part.
  • 58A. [Yiddish outburst high up in Colorado?] is a ROCKY MOUNTAIN OY. Some might dispute the edibility of Rocky Mountain oysters.
Among the livelier or more unusual fill are these:
  • 33D. An [Adult shop purchase, perhaps], is a SEX TOY. But not in Alabama.
  • 32D. PHAROS is the [Location of the Lighthouse of Alexandria, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World].
  • 53A. CALYX is such a pretty word, isn't it? [Flower part] doesn't do it justice. The CALYX is made up of the leafy green sepals at the base of a blossom.
  • 10D. [Dish on a Chinese menu] is CHOW YUK. Say what? Never heard of it, but here's a recipe.
  • 4D. BOMBAST is a great word, but not a pretty one. It's [Speech full of hot air].
Updated Tuesday morning:

Randall J. Hartman's CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, "Flat Broke"—Janie's review

Take the word flat, and break it up into two unequal parts: fla and t. How many phrases are bookended with this particular combination? notes some: 344, in fact. How many—by length and quality—are puzzle-worthy? "Ay, there's the rub." I'm happy to say that Randy has found four prime candidates:
  • 17A. FLAK JACKET [Battlefield protection].
  • 10D. FLANNEL SUIT [Business wear]. As in the Sloan Wilson's 50s classic The Man in the the Gray....
  • 24D. FLAGRANT ACT [Intentional foul, in some sports]. Kept parsing this one as FLAG-RANT ACT. Citizens will be fined for criticizing Old Glory? Or citizens will be confined to criticizing Old Glory only on alternate Mondays in months ending in "-y"?
  • 55A. FLASHPOINT [Critical situation]. The best of four very vivid phrases. Cluing BOLT as [Flash of lightning] steals a bit of its thunder, so to speak, and I was surprised to see the repetition when it could have been avoided.
There are some fine clue/fill combos that contribute to this puzzle's lively feel, so let's take a look at:
  • [Something dug up at a dig]/RELIC. I dig the dug/dig duo.
  • [Bee's burden]/POLLEN. Hadn't thought about this for some time—the way bees collect and disseminate pollen, thereby giving us even more flowering plants. Who taught 'em how to do this?!
  • [Series of missed calls]/PHONE TAG. My friend Ruby and I were playing that very recently...
  • [Your of yore]/THINE.
  • [Air port?]/NOSE. Cute.
  • [Sweet-talks]/CAJOLES. Such a good word. I first heard it in the bridge of the lyric for "Many a New Day" from Oklahoma! (And look who makes an appearance...)
Never've I chased the honey-bee
Who carelessly cajoled me.
Somebody else just as sweet as he
Cheered me and consoled me...
  • The side-by-side Scandinavian duo: [Swedish auto]/SAAB and [Norwegian capital]/OSLO.
There are also some brow-raisers: DUANE [Chapman of "Dog the Bounty Hunter"], who is someone I've never heard of (nor any of his work); early 20th century ball player TRIS [Speaker of Cooperstown], who is someone I've encountered only in the puzzles but don't know in a more organic (or memorable...) way (not atypical of me 'n' sports figures, no matter what their contribution to the game); and TEE OFF ON for [Chew out]. When you're angry with someone, you're teed off at him/her. But until today, I'd never heard the expression tee off on, as in "I was so angry I really had to tee off on him." Are any of you familiar with this phrase? Is it maybe a regional thang?

I sure never heard of TEE OFF ON, but there it is in the Mac's Oxford American dictionary widget with an "informal" tag. One of the usage examples is "He will tee off on conservative politicians," and the other is "Chang teed off on his opponent's serve." With a definition of "sharply attack someone or something," I don't quite see that making sense in the second example.

Donna Levin's Los Angeles Times crossword

LOST IN SPACE premiered on this date in 1965, which was 44 years ago and not your usual big round number for an anniversary puzzle. Robby the Robot (that's right, yes? I never watched the show and tried to avert my eyes from the movie remake when it was on cable) was wont to say "Danger, Will Robinson!"—which feeds into the other three theme answers. DANGER MOUSE is a [Toon rodent who's a secret British agent]. I get this rodent mixed up with Modest Mouse, given my near-total lack of familiarity with both of 'em. WILL YOU MARRY ME at first made this look like a proposal puzzle, but the inclusion of I TOLD YOU SO and IN REBUTTAL elsewhere in the puzzle make that seem unlikely. It's clued as [Suitor's proposal]. The third robot word begins ROBINSON CRUSOE, a [Shipwrecked literary hero].

NIHIL, or [Nothing, in Latin], seems a little high-end for a Tuesday puzzle. [Mike Nichols's comedy partner] is not his wife, news anchor Diane Sawyer, but ELAINE MAY. Two German things today: BUND is a [1930s-'40s German-American political group], and KOLN (Köln, really) is the [German name for Cologne], the city. In the U.S., a trailer park is most often a community with smaller prefab homes and not where the RV'ER hangs out. I don't feel [Trailer park resident, for short] aptly describes RVers, who tend to drive their homes across the country, not live in stationary trailer homes.