June 30, 2007

Sunday, July 1

(updated 9:30 AM Sunday)

Hi, Evad here, quickly jumping in for the traveling Orange,

with tomorrow's NY Times....a tribute to the "boys of summer," Diamond Jubilee.

(Right now our hometown Red Sox are trailing the Texas Rangers 5-4 in the 5th...I wonder if the game will be over before I finish this post?)

Constructor Bill Zais's name was new to me, but on Kevin McCann's cruciverb.com site, I see he's had many puzzles, some with his co-constructor today, the prodigious Nancy Salomon.

The circles in the center of the puzzle trace a baseball diamond, with four rebuses representing the four bases at the corners--HOME, FIRST, SECOND and THIRD.

Along the base paths, starting (of course) from HOME, our batter answers the clue (in the Across Lite Notepad) "Now I've seen everything!" with THAT'S A [FIRST] (maybe this is this batter's debut?). He then STEALS [SECOND]. The crowd roars! He then responds to the clue "Show" with FINISH [THIRD], rounding the base to STAYED [HOME], which he certainly is glad he did not, as he scores the run!

Other baseball puns pepper the corners of the grid--FIELD TRIPS is clued as "Cause of some baseball errors?", PARK RANGER is a Texas ballplayer (speaking of the Rangers, they're still leading our Sox, 5-4 in the 6th),
GRASS SKIRT is a "Diamond border" (skirt can be defined as the edge of the baseball playing field), and GROUND BEEF as a complaint on the field. Then there's the inclusion of the classic "Abbott and Costello bit," WHO'S ON [FIRST].

Other nice fill includes SLIPSTREAM, PIED-Á-TERRE, and MOBILE [HOME], clued as "Object of tornado destruction" (it does seem like they are tornado magnets, doesn't it?) There's also a definite druggy vibe with LSD and (Crystal) METH.

A couple areas I went astray: SEE YOU for SO LONG, TRY for SIP and BOO for COO (the last clued as, "Sound from the rafters"--I have to believe that misdirection was intended!) Also, LEHRS was new to me, but gettable from the crossers. And finally, [THIRD] ESTATE sounded only vaguely familiar. (The first are clergy, the second nobility, and the third, everyone left over. A cheer from the commoners!)

A home run from Nancy and Bill!


Deb Amlen brings us today's WaPo, with another baseball-themed idea. She starts 7 theme phrases with common baseball verbs, clued instead as a discussion between 2 baseball execs about signing a free-agent.
So PITCH, STEAL, HIT, THROW, CATCH, SWING and STRIKE move from the field into the back office. Fun idea which shows Deb can construct for the standard markets just as well as for the more edgy "Onion" readers. (Her most recent "Onion" puzzle featured a "Sopranos" theme with a definition of "Cosa Nostra" and other mafia-related entries.)

Lots of tea-related clues in the WaPo:
"Like some tea" was ICED, "Invited for tea, say" was ASKED IN, and "Pekoe holder" was a TEA CHEST. Also enjoyed seeing the "oldies" references to "Get Smart's" KAOS, "Three Stooges" Larry FINE, and a game of my childhood, "Operation" with patient Cavity SAM. Strange bits with HISN clued as "Nonstandard towel word," and the French king, Hugh CAPET.

Today's LAT breaks the string of baseball themes with "Home Remodeling," a puzzle by Dan Naddor. Ten theme entries take phrases with features of a home and anagram ("remodel") the "homey" word. Fave entries included: BOREDOM (BEDROOM) EYES for "Ennui indicator?" and RICKETY SITARS (STAIRS) for "Poorly built Asian strings?" (If you're playing from your own home, the other 8 anagrams are of DEN, STUDY, KITCHEN, CELLAR, DOOR, BASEMENT, POOL and ATTIC.) I liked the idea, and was impressed with two long theme entries running down the NW and SE only a square apart. The inconsistency of most (but not all) entries being names of rooms bothered me just a tad, but I quickly recovered.

As for the fill, I liked the clue "Revolution period?" for YEAR, the word CAVORT (does anyone CAVORT these days?), and the consonant-rich PRMAN for "Spin doc."
Things I learned: Merv Griffin was born in SAN MATEO, the Guardian Angels' founder's name was Curtis SLIWA (which crossed "ELIAS Sports Bureau," a tough intersection), THOR missiles, and New York Times film critic, BOSLEY Crowther. I thought the Tyson quote was going to be his more-oft quoted comment, "I guess I'm gonna fade into Bolivian" instead of "I was freer when I didn't have A CENT." Ahh, the perils and plights of the rich and infamous...

Now I guess I'll fade back into Bolivian myself...