March 22, 2007

Friday, 3/23

NYS 13:41
NYT 5:02

Would you believe the electricity went out before I started packing Thursday evening? I gathered up most of what I needed by flashlight...and then the power came back on. But hey, what else was I going to do in the quiet dark? I've got a morning flight from O'Hare with Nancy Shack (ACPT/Cru photographer extraordinaire) and Tyler Hinman (sometime documentary film star and my chief rival for the ACPT's Midwest region trophy). If that plane goes down, the Midwest trophy is up for grabs. And even if we arrive in Stamford without incident, who knows how many hotshots there are among the 200 or so rookies competing this year?

Those of you who are going to the tournament, I'll see you Friday! Those staying home, I encourage you to solve online or, at your leisure, play by mail. Either way will let you solve the always-excellent tournament puzzles and give you an idea of how you'd place in the standings. I'll try to steal some time in the wee hours to blog.

Two terrific puzzles to launch the weekend: Pete Muller's themed NY Sun crossword and Manny Nosowsky's themeless NYT.

Pete Muller's Sun crossword, "Paws," is one of those masterful puzzles with a twist. In this one, the solver must swap (anagram of "Paws") some clues. As 17- and 59-Across instruct, FIND ANAGRAMS FOR / ALL ONE-WORD CLUES. Aptly, the central entry, REARRANGEMENT, means permutation, which is an anagram of [Importunate]. It took me far too long to figure out what the gimmick was, despite having used the crossings to fill in RASPS for [Flies] (files) at 1-Across, and then some of the anagrams stumped me, and then I wanted 59-Across to be SINGLE-WORD CLUES. The other 21 one-word clues, their anagrams, and their answers are, in clue order but unnumbered, [Compliant] (complaint) BEEF; [Lead] (deal) AGREEMENT; [Ratchet] (chatter) YAP; [Rifles] (lifers) INMATES; [Sienna] (insane) BERSERK; [Omits] (moist) WET; [Mashes] (shames) DISHONORS; [Phat] (path) AISLE; [Gulp] (plug) SEAL; [Delis] (idles) LOAFS; and moving to the Down clues, [Sire] (rise) STAND; [Ride] (dire) FEARSOME; [Twits] (twist) WRINKLE; [Bud] (dub) NAME; [Gum] (mug) STEIN; [Interims] (minister) REVEREND; [Equals] (squeal) RAT; [Course] (source) SEED; [Snail] (nails) BRADS; [Provides] (disprove) BELIE; and [Diapers] (despair) WOE. The straight clues didn't make the puzzle much easier—[Leaves alone] sounds more like "lets be" than MAROONS, for example. And I neither read nor saw The Da Vinci Code, so the role of NEVEU was a mystery. [One by one?] is ELEVEN, and [Set up, as chairs] iS ENDOW. And one of Los Angeles's MLS soccer teams is Chivas USA; the team that signed David Beckham is the Galaxy. ROOTLE is apparently a variant of "root," as in what a pig does with its snout. The Rutles, on the other hand, were a Beatles parody co-created by Eric Idle.

And so Pete Muller continues his streak of cool crosswords that bend the conventions.

Manny Nosowsky's Times puzzle is a delightful soup of colloquialisms—"WHAT'S THE PROBLEM?" is joined by plenty of other bouncy phrases. These include WHIM-WHAM (meaning [Gimcrack] or whatzit)—I didn't know the term but it's got a good story. {Vikings, e.g.] are an NFC TEAM. The NEUE Galerie is an NYC museum of German and Austrian art. I may live near Wrigley Field, but I can't say '50s-'60s Cubs pitcher Don ELSTON is familiar to me. (Also did not know The Da Vinci Code's Priory of SION). RETRONYMs—words that become modified when newer versions arise, like "cloth diaper")—are fun; here's a list. Favorite bits: [Teacher, in dialect] for MARM; the two white wines, MOSELLE and MUSCATEL; [Not hear a single word?] for LIP-READ; [Parlor piece, for short?] for TAT (as in tattoo parlor); and [Relative of Sven, possibly] for INGMAR (generally not kosher to clue a name without reference to an actual person or character, but this was gettable).