June 12, 2008

Friday, 6/13

LAT 5:39
NYS 5:02
NYT 4:37
CHE 3:33
CS 3:12

WSJ 8:55

Well! That was a long day. Ben and I spent the day at my sister's (swimming pool!) and didn't get home until nearly 9:00. Tomorrow is Ben's last day of school...from 8:00 to 9:30 a.m. Dang, I don't know if 8:05 to 9:25 is enough time for me to blog all those Friday puzzles. Not to mention all the other stuff I need to get done...and Father's Day weekend, and no school next week, and going to Minnesota...and, and, and. Aiee!

Patrick Berry's New York Times crossword has, like so many of his puzzles, a certain fresh je ne sais quoi. I'm feeling a little too sun-fried to write lucidly about it, but here goes: BELCH! Such a lovely way to open. That's [Shakespeare's Sir Toby ___]. My favorite clues and answers:

  • IN AN UPROAR = [Riotous]
  • KENNEL CLUB = [Organization concerned with good breeding]
  • [Vengeful Quaker of literature] for AHAB—wait, he was a Quaker? Then he should have been mellower.
  • SYZYGY = [Highest-scoring Scrabble word that doesn't use A, E, I, O, or U]
  • [They have people eating in a lot] refers to a parking lot—TAILGATE PARTIES!
  • RELATIVE CLAUSES are [Sentence fragments often beginning with "wh-" words]. With the LATIV part in place, I decided it had to be ABLATIVE something. I don't think I really read the clue while I was solving. Free advice: Read the clues! They're a big help.
  • [Dorothy Lamour's trademark garment] was the SARONG. A wrap-it-yourself sarong has got to be much comfier than any tailored-waist garment. My prediction for the apparel of the future: No silver jumpsuits, but plenty of unisex sarongs.
  • ["You should really know better!"] means "TSK, TSK." Six-consonant answers are nifty.
  • ARTE isn't Laugh In comedian Johnson?!? He's also [Baseball team owner Moreno]. I believe I've seen this clue before but had forgotten it.
  • LOLA = ["Run ___ Run" (1998 thriller)]—high-octane German movie. My third most favorite German movie, behind The Lives of Others (rent the DVD now!!) and Wings of Desire.
  • PLAY-MAKING = [QB's talent]. I don't know why quarterback isn't spelled out here.
  • [Son of Sarek] was incomprehensible to me. SPOCK? Ah, Star Trek. Were both of Mr. Spock's parents Vulcans?
  • THUNK is both a [Dull sound] and a nonstandard past tense of think. I'd've thunk we'd have had a verb clue here.
  • [Literary character whose last words are "The horror! The horror!"] is Mister KURTZ in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. After his last words, if I recall my high-school l'arnin' properly, someone else in the book says, "Mistah Kurtz, he dead."

There are some other not-so-familiar names in this crossword. To wit:
  • [Italian architect Rossi] is ALDO. You can read a short article about this Pritzker Prize winner here.
  • ["A Fine Romance" composer] is Jerome KERN.
  • The [1950s sitcom family name] belongs to Fred and Ethel MERTZ, Lucy and Ricky's neighbors/landpeople. (We have landlord and landlady in English; is there a word for the two of them together?)
  • The [Walter who created Woody Woodpecker] is Walter LANTZ.
  • SARAH is the first name of [Opera impresario Caldwell]. Here's her Wikipedia entry.
  • [First name shared by both founders of Apple] is STEVE—Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. Jobs likes to wear black long-sleeved tees or turtlenecks, I forget which. Wozniak is the one who until recently was dating comedian Kathy Griffin. This one doesn't really fit the "not-so-familiar names" category, does it?
  • [Ripley who wrote the "Gone With the Wind" sequel "Scarlett"] is ALEXANDRA.

Peter Gordon (a.k.a. Ogden Porter) delivers a themed Friday New York Sun puzzle in lieu of a "Weekend Warrior." Aw, I was hoping for the regularly scheduled themeless. The "Tony-Winning Fivesome" theme includes five names (four performers, one show title) that contain five vowels, one of each. It's a nice touch to include VOWEL and AIEOU as the first and last Across entries, but the theme does nothing for me. Heck, a theme of baseball players whose names include the five vowels might be more up my alley. The [Actor who won a Tony for "Bedroom Farce"] is MICHAEL GOUGH. Who? Oh! Alfred in the '89 Batman movie! He's 94 now.


Alrighty, I've got 40 minutes to solve/blog this morning. Go!

Will Johnston's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Be Afraid...Be Very Afraid," has an unusual theme. There are 12 Across theme answers, all of them the objects of phobias, 4 to 7 letters in length. For example, [Suriphobe's fear] is MICE, a [Brontophobe's fear] is THUNDER, and a [Kakorrhaphiophobe's fear] is FAILURE. Most of the phobias included aren't the commonly known ones, so the easy crossings really come in handy.

Dan Naddor's LA Times crossword sort of rebus-izes five people's names in a 16x15 grid. PETER GRAVES, for example, can be split up into [Caress + energy unit + wild parties = ?] or PET + ERG + RAVES. Fun theme game! It gave my brain a good workout. Lots of longish answers in the fill, and good clues—all around, a most enjoyable challenge.

In Bonnie Gentry and Vic Fleming's Chronicle of Higher Education puzzle, "Wright-Ins," they STASH AWAY ([Put aside]) four DRAMATISTs by hiding them within longer phrases. [Benin's capital] PORTO NOVO has Joe ORTON. George Bernard SHAW is inside STASH AWAY. Karel Čapek, author of crossworders' favorite robot drama, R.U.R., lurks within ESCAPE KEY. And MANAGING EDITORS hides...oh, there he is! William INGE. Good puzzle! I don't know anything about the [Nigerian city] ILESHA (also spelled ILESA, so maybe it will show up in another puzzle), but the E looked the most plausible for San STEFANO.

Harvey Estes' Wall Street Journal crossword, "Double-Entry Accounting," dishes up some Sunday-sized rebus action. The four longest Across entries and the two longest Downs contain a [TWO] rebus, with those letters also being used in the words that cross the rebus squares. The last Across theme entry threw me for a loop by including two rebus squares—the [Million-selling 1956 record for Don Rondo] (who??) is [TWO] DIFFEREN[T WO]RLDS. Good theme entries, good overall fill, good clues. I rather liked [Business, facetiously] for BEESWAX, particularly since the WSJ is a business-oriented newspaper.

Whew! I made it. Time to go!