November 04, 2009

Thursday, 11/5/09

NYT 3:41
LAT 2:58
Tausig untimed
CS untimed

Patrick Blindauer's New York Times crossword

I didn't read the Notepad entry for this puzzle, and it's just as well or I would have been sidetracked from the task of answering the clues. I finished the puzzle, then read this: "When this puzzle is completed, one letter of the alphabet will appear 22 times. Shade in its square everywhere it appears. The result will be an image suggested by 36-Across." 36A is INVISIBLE MAN, so there's a hidden drawing somewhere...and look, his torso is at 25D: SSSSSSS, the [1973 horror flick about a doctor who turns his assistant into a cobra]. I should've known SSSSSSS was there for a grander purpose! This now-visible man seems to have a freakishly long torse relative to his limbs. Poor guy. Must be impossible to find jackets that fit.

I'm tired and distracted, so let me resort to a scarcely annotated list:

• 16A. [Canine care grp.?] is ADA, canines being teeth and the ADA being the American Dental Association. I used to freelance for them, you know.
• 18A. ROSES ARE RED is the [Start of a lover's quatrain]. ...Irises are purple. If you're ill-bred, you call it a nurple. Is that how it goes? Looks like a theme entry because it's long, but no. All that's thematic are those symmetrical-in-the-grid Ss.
• 33A. Why isn't this clue [___ wazoo]? UP THE [___ ante] is boring.
• 34A. OSTIA, [Port of ancient Rome], crosswordese, an S where Patrick needed one for the drawing.
• 55A. MONKEES was the [#1 album for 13 weeks in 1966-67, with "The"]. I had BEATLES. Seriously.
• 60A. [Eliminates undesirable parts]...hmm...CIRCUMCISES fits. So does CLEANS HOUSE. "Parts" is a dangerous word.
• 64A. Are you kidding me? [Panties, old-style] were called STEP-INS? Never heard that term before. The Ss are the man's feet.
• 65A. LAE is the [Pacific port where Amelia Earhart was last seen]. I hear Amelia is a boring movie. LAE I know from Kevin Der's record-breaking grid, where it was perhaps the ugliest answer.
• 2D. Robert Randolph and the Family Band miss out here. RANDOLPH is clued as [Air Force base near San Antonio].
• 6D. [19th-century James] is vague. First name? No, last. JESSE James. He should've known better than to rob the Northfield, Minnesota, bank.
• 8D. [Filly] clues LASS. Gag me. "Filly"?
• 21D. RISHI is a [Hindu sage], and the S is the man's hand.
• 38D. ENATE means [Maternally related]. Hoary crosswordese.
• 45D. Showtime at the APOLLO! [New York theater on the National Register of Historic Places, with "the"].
• 51D. MENSA, [Indicator of brightness]. Is there a reason it's not clued [Indicator of social skills]? I don't get Mensa. I liked the newsletter when my mom was a member for a few years in the '70s, but since then? Nah.

Okay, so I lied. That was more than scarce annotation.

Good night!

Updated Thursday morning:

Raymond Hamel's CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, "For Your Protection"—Janie's review

For a puzzle that yields theme-fill of a highly industrial nature, this puppy sure has a lot to recommend it. Each of the five theme-phrases is clued identically: [It's worn for your protection]. The five theme-answers are:


But look how nice and scrabbly the fill is. And there's a lovely assonance thing going when you say the words aloud: mask, hazmat, pad, crash, flak jacket. You can also hear it as well in such non-theme fill as CACKLE [Witch's outburst], AT LAW [Words on a shingle] and the cleverly clued CLARA [Bow on the screen] (so that's a long "o" in "Bow").

I think this may be the first time we've seen E-BOOK clued as a [Kindle download] in a CS puzzle. And it looks like this is the first time ROZ has been clued as [Cartoonist Chast] here. Love Roz Chast's observations on the details of everyday life.

Also love such lively fill as SCHNOZ (with it's lively [Honker] clue), which shares that "Z" with TABRIZ [City in Iran]. Tabriz is Iran's fourth largest city, and Iran sits right across the Persian Gulf from SAUDI Arabia (though today Saudi comes to us by way of the clue [Arabian leader]). Lotta desert land in that part of the world, so thank goodness for the OASES [Places for camels to drink].

Then there's VERDANT [Green] (to keep things fresh) and POOL TOY [Inflatable raft, say] (though I'm not sure a floating raft qualifies as a toy...). When you (or your raft) are [Drifting on the briny], you're ASEA, where "AVAST!" is a [Gob's stopper]. In addition to those two clues, I enjoyed [Not dis] for DAT, [Do a do] for PERM and [All you need, according to the Beatles] for LOVE. (And remember, they're the ones who declared "money can't buy me love!" For guys who sang that they "don't care too much for money," they sure managed to amass quite a bit of it. Ah, well, it was a dirty job and somebody had to do it...)

Xan Vongsathorn's Los Angeles Times crossword

Xan Vongsathorn's debut puzzle was in the New York Times, while his second puzzle (that I know of) comes to us from the West Coast. The theme hovers around four [Non-speaking line?]s, tied together by SILENCE IS GOLDEN, the [Apt adage for this puzzle]. The other four phrases are MY LIPS ARE SEALED, I'M ALL EARS, WORDS ESCAPE ME, and NO COMMENT. Now, they don't all mean exactly the same thing—I won't blab, I'm listening, I can't describe it, I refuse to answer—but they loosely fall under the SILENCE IS GOLDEN rubric. You'll note that although there's a MY, I'M, and ME, there are no repeated words in the theme answers.

TATTLE, or 21A: [Spill the beans], is practically the opposite of MY LIPS ARE SEALED. Any other talking answers in the fill? MEOW is a [Cat call], not a human word. "DUH" and "I'M GONE" are spoken language for people. And OBAMA is clued as [President with a Grammy], for his Spoken Word Book.

Ice cream! [Country where Haagen-Dazs H.Q. is] is, of course, the USA.

I guess we're still in the holding pattern waiting for Thursday L.A. Times puzzles to inch up in difficulty. Or maybe Thursdays will remain Tuesdays and only Friday and Saturday will be tougher? I'm not sure. I'm not finding much to talk about in this puzzle. Well, you know what they say—silence is golden.

Ben Tausig's Ink Well/Chicago Reader crossword, "Silent Treatment"

Ben puts a different spin on silence, adding a silent letter to each of five phrases to change the meaning but not the pronunciation:

• 17A. [Totally sweet depth-checking gadget?] is a SUGAR PLUMB. Have any of you ever had a sugar plum? I have not.
• 26A. [Architectural piece in "Where the Wild Things Are"?] clues MONSTER JAMB. What is Monster Jam, you may wonder. Monster truck derbies. I always call such events "Truckasaurus" after The Simpsons.
• 39A. Freestyle rap yields FREESTYLE WRAP, or [Improvise with some ribbons and bows?].
• 52A. [Olfactory reward for leading a good life?] is HEAVEN SCENT.
• 62A. A latex dental dam becomes DENTAL DAMN, or [The curse of the orthodontist?].

Miscellaneous fill and clues:

• AREPAS are [Some Spanish small-plate items]. I've never had arepas, but Chowhound knows a few places I might try in Chicago. More South American than Spanish, apparently.
• You gotta know your political figures to nail all of Ben Tausig's puzzles. Don NICKLES of Oklahoma was the [Senate Majority Whip before Reid] and after Lott. How would he fare in a battle with Don Rickles?
• [Soul backing band named for their singer] is the JBS, after James Brown. I did not know this one.
• [Bygone TV award] is the CABLE ACE Award. Didn't people joke about those during the Emmys this fall?
• [Macedonian city where Mother Teresa was born] is SKOPJE, Macedonia's capital. It wasn't called Macedonia when she was born. Ben's original clue, [Mother Teresa's birthplace, today] was impossible for me, so if you got this one, you can thank me. I was guessing KOSOVO based on the old clue. Wikipedia tells me that when she was born, it was called Üsküb, Ottoman Empire. Her family was Albanian, and modern-day Albania and Macedonia share a border.
• [Discount travel agency for students] is called STA. I don't think this existed when I was a student.
• [Tries to look bigger than one is, in a way] clues BSS, short for "bullshits."
• [Due times cinquanta] is CENTI. I gather cinquanta is Italian for 50?