May 07, 2007

Tuesday May 8

Hello Orange fans:

My name is Barry Weprin and you may have noticed my posts here under the unoriginal ID “barrywep”. I have been doing the NY Times puzzle regularly for six or seven years now . Only in the last three years have I become really focused on the artistry of various constructors, which I largely credit to Amy’s tutelage on this blog.
I have been doing the NY Sun puzzles every day for the last year or two since this blog got me interested in them.

Today's NYT is by Sarah Keller, whose name I recognize, but it rings no bells as to style. This puzzle has a simple theme and few surprises.

Today’s NYS puzzle by Edgar Fontaine , whose work is also unfamiliar to me, has a neat three entry theme. Like most Peter Gordon edited puzzles it has loads of fresh cluing for old fill and a few overly complicated clues for simple everyday fill which are made complicated solely for the purpose of being original. These are what I refer to as “Peter Gordonisms.” A complicated clue that shouts out the answer to a crossword veteran is less enjoyable to me than a clever clue that may have been used before. Some simple fresh new clues that Peter uses are too hard for early week puzzles.
Now that I am in charge here (at least for today) I would love to hear others’ views on the subject.

On to today’s puzzles…

The NYT theme is found in 64 across: PHASES OF THE MOON. The three theme entries :


all start with words that are phases of the moon. Simple, huh? Not for me today.
Maybe it was the pressure of trying to finish in a hurry to blog before bedtime, but "Magazine with the recurring heading 'Onward and Upward with the Arts,'with 'the'" didn't say NEWYORKER to me even with ____ORKER staring at me and me searching for a phase of the moon. A Petergordonism (sort of). . . in the NY Times!
And I read the magazine! Sometimes, anyway.

Anyway the final indignation was taking a minute to realize I had keyed PHASESOFTHEMOOD (which crossed ADDS) thus giving me a ruinously bad time for a Tuesday.

MISSAL (clued as Catholic Prayer Book) joins REREDOS from the other day as punishment for not being a churchgoer. And no Hebrew words to balance it out this time.

Country/rock singer Steve EARLE was unknown to me. Blogging his work rang no bells, either.

LOLA ("Kinks hit with a spelled out name") I know, and like.

YOWLED was my third choice for "Cried out in pain" , after WAILED and HOWLED. My two answers seem better since YOWLED doesn't normally connote pain, only sadness: .

Cluing AFTS as "early p.m.'s" struck me as unnecessary crosswordese (partly because it took me a minute to get it even after it was all filled in). "Rears" would do as a clue for a Tuesday. CDI (clued as "401, in Roman times")is inevitably crosswordese.

Cluing constructor standby OREO as "Hydrox rival, once" , brought to my attention that Hydrox are gone and have been since 1996. Where was I?

SOFTSHOE (clued as "Quiet tap dancing"--an oxymoron?)was neat but the rest of the puzzle fill left me cold.

"Polish receivers" had me thinking of Danny Abromowicz :

but the crossings gave me the clever correct fill: NAILS.

Edgar Fontaine's NYS titled "Family Affair" has three theme entries consisting of the full names of four unrelated individuals: WILLIAM DAWES, DANIEL DEFOE, ALEC MCCOWEN, and STEPHEN CRANE, each of whom shares a first name with one of the infamous (at least Alec is infamous) BALDWIN BROTHERS (the answer to 6 down). I enjoyed this puzzle and like this type of theme more than most other early week themes. I had virtually solved the whole puzzle before the theme came to me from 6 Down.

Lots of good fresh fill, although I thought "creator of some banks" for SNOWPLOW, "trial associate" for ERROR and, especially "intaglio mineral" for ONYX were too hard for a Tuesday.
These types of clues should be saved for later in the week.

This puzzle features three of what I regard as classic Petergordonisms:

"Hawaiian island that has the highest population density" for OAHU;
"Earned run average times innings pitched divided by runs given up" for NINE; and
"He was elected to the baseball hall of fame the same day as Cy and Nap" for TRIS.

The only reason not to use "most populous Hawaiian island" or some variation thereof for OAHU is that they must all have been used before. Bringing in population density needlessly complicates the clue to no useful end. OAHU has 3/4 of Hawaii's population so no other response would even suggest itself.

While I normally don't object to baseball clues, these two were overcomplicated. When I saw the hall of fame clue for a four letter fill, my (and others who knew crosswordese) only question was ENOS or TRIS?
Someone who doesn't know crosswordese should have been given a simpler clue.
Here is Tris Speaker's Hall of Fame plaque:∫=1567&index=4

I had trouble following the ERA clue but knew the answer had to be NINE or ONE and only NINE fit. I am glad Amy wasn't around to see this clue. Talk about inside baseball, and she usually disdains regular baseball clues.

AVA, Linda G's favorite crossword actress, is not clued by a husbands' name this time. Indeed she is not clued as Ms. Gardner at all but rather as "palindromic girl's name."

To end on a positive note, I loved "major in astronomy" for URSA and thought it was Tuesday fair.
I liked "Impends as a storm" for BREWS, "____, Indiana (short lived NBC TV series of the 90's" for EERIE, and "drink by a dartboard, often" for ALE. Fresh clues for really stale fill.

The EERIE clue was too hard for a Tuesday but Peter provided lots of googling aid.

Other nice fill included NARCISSUS (clued as "self loving mythological character"), LOOSEENDS (clued as "unfinished business") and UNSCREW (clued as "turn to open). I think Peter is at his best when cluing this type of seldom seen fill.