September 05, 2006

Wednesday the 6th

NYS 5:08
NYT 4:03
LAT 3:40
CS 3:26

Up first, a little game. Give me a headline containing two 8-letter words that are anagrams of each other, to accompany a story about a particularly hassle-filled commute for a driver.

The Sun puzzle by Gary Steinmehl and Manny Nosowsky's NYT are both roughly Thursday level in difficulty. (Of course, they're both Wednesday puzzles.) There's one entry in Manny's puzzle that left me wondering, and perhaps one of you can shed some light on that for me: I understand five of the six theme entries—places for a queen, places in Queens, the place where Queens is—but have no idea what "Queen's place, in fiction" and SPIDER NEST relate to. My Google search was unrevealing.

In the Sun puzzle, "Essex," an S becomes an X in each of five theme entries. I especially liked MARX BAR and PLANET OF THE APEX. My favorite clue was "Liberty, for example" for JEEP.

I'd write more if I weren't so sleepy...


Mel Rosen spiffs up his CrosSynergy quip puzzle with plenty of long entries. I have two questions about one clue, though: the answer to "Xena and Charon, as of August 16, 2006" is PLANETS. It was my understanding that they and Pluto are categorized as dwarf planets, and that although the key noun there appears to be planet, dwarf planets fall short of being planets. (1) Am I right or am I confused? (2) Are there any other terms in which a noun is negated by its modifier, but the modifier isn't something innately negative, like non or anti?

Cool link: This is actually not off topic because of the SPIDER NEST mystery and the fact that there's a picture of a the incredible shrinking man battling a spider in this article, "The Biology of B-Movie Monsters," from a University of Chicago professor—a crucial discussion of what would happen, physically and biologically, if people shrank or animals were enlarged to colossal proportions by, say, the effects of B-movie radiation. Issues of mass, surface tension, metabolism, biomechanics, oxygen requirements, and so forth explain why Mothra shouldn't be able to fly, why the giant octopus in It Came from Beneath the Sea surely suffered a cerebral hemorrhage, and why King Kong's cranky disposition might derive from achy feet.