April 09, 2008

Thursday, 4/10

NYS 5:00
NYT 4:23
LAT 4:15
CS 3:15

I am in a pet (in the "sulky and peevish" sense). It's that pesky sesamoiditis—"The pain usually begins as a mild ache and increases gradually as the aggravating activity is continued. It may build to an intense throbbing." Indeed. It was a mild ache a week ago, and has increased gradually each day. As far as health conditions go, it's not worrisome, I know, but it's still vexatious.

David Kahn's New York Times crossword summons up memories of his famous Al Hirschfeld tribute puzzle with hidden NINAs in the grid. This time, the theme is THE SECRET GARDEN, and A DOZEN ROSES are hidden, word-search style, throughout the grid. Man, it took me forever to find the twelfth ROSE! I even started looking for PETE Rose, to no avail, but finally found the last ROSE crossing some black squares and ending in square 63. (All 12 are circled in the grid here.)

Favorite and/or toughest clues: [Three short, three long, three short] for SOS in Morse code; [Spend the night] for ROOST ("Hey, cutie, wanna roost in my coop?"); [Everyday speech] for PROSE (I usually think of prose as written, not spoken); [Designer/architect Goldfinger] for ERNO (I know Erno Rubik of cube fame and Auric Goldfinger of James Bond fame, but not this guy—and I don't care for his buildings); [Capital of Valais] for SION; [Dumpling stuffed with cheese] for PIROGI (I am more familiar with the pierogi spelling, but I will gladly eat potato and cheese dumplings no matter how they're spelled); [Antenna holder, maybe] for INSECT; [What you might be doing this puzzle in] for PEN (or the loo, or the bus); ["The chief nurse of England's statesmen"] for ETON; [Hydrospace] for SEA; ["Too great a burden to bear": Martin Luther King Jr.] for HATE; and [Horse-training school] for MANEGE. I wasn't in the mood for all the cross-referenced clues (WEE and TINIER, SNO and CAT, SEINE and THE SORBONNE), and the constraints placed on the fill by the requirement for a dozen ROSEs to be hidden led to plenty of suboptimal fill. Were those offset by the joy of the word search that followed? I don't know.

My solving of Doug Peterson's "Themeless Thursday" in the New York Sun was interrupted by my son's hissy fit. (Grr.) Plenty of lively fill here—to wit, EMOTICON, THOUGHT POLICE, DEAD CAT BOUNCE, MEL BLANC beside Ozzy OSBOURNE, DJINNS, and a SKORT on the CISCO KID's midsection. Favorite clues: ["Finding Nemo" character Peach, e.g.] for SEA STAR; [Drawing cards] for LURES; [McGrath of "Sesame Street"] for BOB; [Rumspringa group] for AMISH; [Like Jason Kidd] for GOATEED (I think he's a basketball player, but I have no idea what he looks like—GOATEED was a lucky guess with a few crossings); [Was awful, in slang] for BIT; [Raid target] for BOOKIE (I first went with COOKIE, as in a raid on the cookie jar, but there is no Cob McGrath); and [Rose's home] for DAVID KAHN'S PUZZLE—no wait, it's PBS, home of Charlie Rose.


My mom looked up sesamoiditis in a medical dictionary, and found only references to a foot ailment in horses. She said I should see a better veterinarian.

Randolph Ross's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Ster-linguistics," is really funny, and I swear I was not under the influence of narcotics when I solved it. Each theme entry tacks on a -STER to radically change the meaning. HAMSTER SANDWICH! A dictionary buff who's a WEBSTER BROWSER! SPINSTER DOCTORS! (This rad-fem blogger has reclaimed the term "spinster aunt," so the word amuses me.) And HIPSTER HUGGERS, because even the coolest hipster needs a little love. Every theme entry made me smile, and that doesn't happen so often. Much appreciated!

The LA Times crossword by Gary Steinmehl contains a "SKY ___" theme, with five phrases (including BLUE FLU in the middle) that begin with words that could fill in that blank. The answer seems nonstandard as crossword fill goes, but I'm fond of ZSA clued as [Eva's half sister?]. The dik-dik is also nonstandardly split in half, with DIK in the grid. Somehow I find the two work together better than they would separately.