June 09, 2007

Sunday, 6/10

NYT 11:44
LAT 10:13
WaPo 8:42
CS 5:56
BG tba?

(updated at 8:20 a.m. Sunday)

So, it appears the upcoming crossword game show has changed titles once again, to Merv Griffin's Crosswords or maybe Merv Griffin's Crosswords. There'd been early talk that it would tape in Chicago, but alas, it is a Hollywood show with Hollywood auditions. So if you're in Southern California or expect to be, give the show a call at (323) 762-8282. Or wait for the show to (1) catch on, (2) make big money, and (3) launch nationwide auditions à la Jeopardy!

I had a busy Saturday and didn't get around to solving the Sunday NYT until after 9, when I was growing sleepy. And then I crashed for a while when putting my son to bed, so we'll see how well I can recall what I liked best. The Bob Klahn byline generally means interesting clues that give your brain a workout, and if you didn't stretch first, you might feel a little strain in the brain. The "All About National Public Radio" theme means eight phrases with the letter string NPR embedded within them (HUMAN PRETZEL! MODERN PROMETHEUS! JASON PRIESTLEY!). That's a wordplay-free theme, giving the puzzle a bit of a themeless vibe (always a good thing in my book). The trademark Klahn difficulty (the sort of thing that evokes solvers to shake their fist and shout, "Klaaahn!" the way Captain Kirk yelled "Khan!") is embodied by knotty sections like the [K.G.B. predecessor] OGPU crossing four words (OMIT, GIGOLO, PENROD, UNPILE) with not-obvious-to-me clues (here is a chapter from Penrod—ach!). Or the word ENGLUT ([Consume piggishly]) crossing things like TSE and LONGBOW. Or the crossing of [Father of Henry II] with [Bridge supports]—the first is EDSEL from the Henry Ford family (rather than an English royal), and the latter is TEETH (rather than a civil engineering term). Or the [Subject of a Boito opera], NERO, crossing the OTSEGO River Lake OTSEGO. Or SION, the wee [Capital of Valais canton], crossing YAKUTSK, SHIISM, ONTO clued as [Mindful of], and IN PEN. And what's this Mount ELBERT that's the continental 48's second-tallest mountain? (Insert your own tough crossing spot here.)

Cleverest (or hardest) Klahn clues: [Doc bloc: Abbr.] for HMO (not AMA!); [Live in the past?] for DWELT; [World's biggest city built on permafrost] for YAKUTSK (Wikipedia reports winter temps averaging –45°F but July temps exceeding 90°F—how inhospitable! But the scenic Lena River of crossword fame passes through town.); [Short notes] for IOUS; [Batch of Brownies] for TROOP; [Words of endorsement] for SIGN HERE (Have you read the saga of a man who could not get stores to bother checking his signature on a credit card receipt? It's funny.); [Initial sounds of a relief effort?] for PLOP PLOP; [Good name for a minimalist] for LES (I feel like I've seen this clue before, but it still stymied me); [Kurt denial?] for NEIN; and [Social workers] for ANTS. All told, a lovely crossword and a worthy challenge.


Speaking of Bob Klahn, guess who constructed today's themeless CrosSynergy challenge? Man, he sure can write clues that are completely fair once you've correctly deciphered them, but completely opaque and misleading beforehand. The ones I liked best are legion: [Garfield's head?] for LITTERBOX; [Pants opening] for SMARTY; [Way to go] for APE; [Definite one, maybe] for ARTICLE; [Yo-Yo strings] for CELLI; [Horse fathers] for SIRES (my eye stuck an E in there to make "horse feathers," which didn't help); [21 words] for HIT ME; [Gave life to] for SENTENCED; [Freelance, e.g.] (as a verb) for GO IT ALONE; [Meet in Las Vegas or Atlantic City] for SEE; [Catches cold?] for NAILS; and [It's a lifelong process] for AGING. Plenty of interesting fill with more straightforward clues, too: ATHENAEUM, IPSE DIXIT, TOP DOLLAR, RHINOCERI, DELMONICO, STRONGMEN. A nice treat for fans of the toughest cluing, having two Klahns for the price of one. And for non-fans, well, tomorrow is Monday and the puzzles then will be far more pliable.

Randolph Ross's Washington Post crossword, "Middle Primates," puts an APE where Bob Klahn has NPR—in the midst of each theme entry. Good puzzle with no surprises and no deadly quagmires lurking in the grid.

The syndicated LA Times puzzle today is by "Nora Pearlstone" (a.k.a. Rich Norris). In "Ba Relief," BA has been removed from assorted phrases to generate the theme entries. My favorites were the first two, CANADIAN CON (bacon) and NANA SPLIT (banana); the others pushed it a little more and tended to elude me.