July 05, 2008

Sunday, 7/6

NYT 10:18
PI 8:58
LAT 8:15
WSJ 8:05
CS 4:45

If you like both crosswords and sudoku, you'll enjoy Patrick Blindauer and Frank Longo's new book, Crosswordoku. Each pair of puzzles includes a crossword and a sudoku—the 13x13 crossword has some shaded squares, and you transfer the letters in those squares into the shaded squares of the sudoku grid. Then you've got a "wordoku" puzzle to contend with—a sudoku logic challenge using nine different letters rather than numbers. The finished wordoku grid will include a nine-letter word in one row, column, or diagonal (and if it's the diagonal, it won't be an anagram of the nine letters used in the grid). I'm still in the "beginner" section at the beginning of the book (hey, I just started the book last night), but both the crosswords and -oku puzzles will get harder as the book progresses.

Brendan Emmett Quigley's latest Sunday New York Times crossword is called "What the H?" Each of the eight theme entries changes a W word into a sound-alike WH word:

  • [V.I.P. in a limo?] is WHEELED AUTHORITY (wield).
  • [Stories about halting horses?] are TALES OF WHOA (woe).
  • [Causes of meteorological phenomena?] are WEATHER WHYS (wise). (This phrase could also have been converted into WHETHER WISE, a question of wisdom.)
  • [Iceland?] is an ISLE OF WHITE (Wight), though they say that Greenland is much icier than Iceland.
  • [Barrier Ahab stands behind?] is a WHALING WALL (Wailing).
  • [Cry after writing a particularly fun column?] is THE EDITORIAL WHEE (we).
  • [45, e.g.?] is a WHIRLED RECORD (world).
  • [Where ax murderers' weapons are on display?] is a WHACKS MUSEUM (wax).

Let's turn our attention to the knottiest fill: NATICK is the [Town at the eighth mile of the Boston Marathon], and it sits atop CARROL, [Charlie Chan player J. ___ Naish]. Ouch! 2-Down could have been OOHED AT just as easily as the correct AAHED AT ([Showed delight over]), and ["Treasure Island" illustrator, 1911] N.C. WYETH's initials cross NATICK and CARROL. ARNE is the first name of [Swedish Chemistry Nobelist Tiselius]. The [1887 Chekhov play] IVANOV was eluding me when I'd thoughtlessly entered WHIRLED REPORT instead of RECORD, making THE CAN (the [Stir]) turn into THE PEN and obscuring the sense of [Fully or partially: Abbr.]—that's ADV, or the abbreviation for adverb, which is what "fully" and "partially" are. At least, these were the knottiest spots for me—I'm seeing some longer-than-usual applet solving times, so I suspect people found other hitches too.

Favorite clues and favorite answers, in no particular order:
  • The LARYNX is your [Pitch maker?].
  • Rock 'n' roll gets its due with DEVO, or ["Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are ___!" (hit 1978 album)] and KEITHS, or [Rock's Richards and Moon]. There's also pop, with the [1971 Tom Jones hit] SHE'S A LADY, the countryish [1973 Helen Reddy #1 hit] DELTA DAWN, and square dancing's DOSIDO, or [Literally, "back to back"].
  • SAY WHEN is a [Pourer's comment].
  • ANHEUSER is the [Eponymous German brewer Eberhard].
  • An AIRHEAD is a [Scatterbrain].
  • DRESS-UP is [Something little girls may play]—and also something little boys may play.
  • Isn't NYAD a wonderfully apt surname for [Long-distance swimmer Diana]? Naiads are water nymphs.
  • I like the HAU* foreign-language section, with HAUS ([Residence on the Rhein]) atop HAUT ([High, in the Alps]).
  • [Slogan holder, often] is a TEE shirt.
  • The OLD WEST is [Boot Hill setting].
  • A [Team building?] is a sports ARENA.


The Saturday Wall Street Journal included Mike Shenk's crossword (published under his Alice Long nom de plume), as the usual publication day, Friday, was the Fourth of July. In the "American Plan" theme, eight phrases adopted the letters USA and radically changed their meanings. Bond traders became BONUS AD TRADERS, or [Ones swapping free TV spots?]. That one feels a little tortured, but presumably the bond traders who like the WSJ crossword appreciated the shout-out. Cal Tech gives us a CAUSAL TECH. There's a SAUSAGE BRUSH, a [Tool for scrubbing a salami?] (sagebrush). [Fizz added to "Every Breath You Take"?] is STING OPUS AERATION (sting operation). Grand Prix yields a GRAND PRIUS AX. There's CHRISTMAS CAROUSAL. Those are all fine, sure, but my favorite theme entries are CLUB MEDUSA, [Advice to Perseus if he had a bat instead of a sword?], and SAY IT AIN'T SOUSA, ["Please don't play another march by that guy!"?].

Merl Reagle's Philadelphia Inquirer puzzle, "The Jack Black Society," assembles 13 people (a few of them fictional) who, like Jack Black, have rhyming names. The least obvious is LEO CARRILLO, [Actor who played Pancho on TV's The Cisco Kid]. Fast food spokesclown RONALD MCDONALD, [Salad inventor] BOB COBB, CHERI OTERI of SNL (111-Down), and several others join the rhyme party. [Operetta pioneer] JACQUES OFFENBACH and an [L.A. center, once] named SHAQUILLE O'NEAL are stacked together with their Q's in close proximity—that's some fancy constructin' there. I love seeing Happy Days' redhead, RALPH MALPH, in the grid. Fun fill overall—MR. BEAN, "OH, CRUD," LINUS from "Peanuts"—lots of pop culture inside and outside the theme.

Updated midday Sunday:

Newcomer Zack Kushner makes a nice debut with his syndicated Los Angeles Times crossword, "Sail Away." The six theme entries have boating puns:
  • [Struggling to stay up at sea?] is ON A SLIPPERY SLOOP (slope).
  • [Request to a circumnavigator?] YAWL COME BACK NOW, Y'HEAR? (y'all). This one's my favorite for sheer lunacy.
  • [Bear's sailing vessel?] is THE DHOW OF POOH (The Tao of Pooh).
  • [Transport for 2%?] is a GALLEON OF MILK (gallon).
  • [Major mooring mishap?] is BARQUE UP THE WRONG TREE (bark). This was the toughest boat name for me to get.
  • [Build Captain Nemo's versatile sailing craft?] is MAKE A DIVING KETCH (catch).

Favorite clues: [Uses a powerful engine] for GOOGLES; ["Just kidding!"] for "PSYCH!"; [Lettuce] for GELT; [Strawberry Shortcake, e.g.] for DOLL; and [Airport in "Home Alone"] for O'HARE.

Bob Klahn's themeless CrosSynergy "Sunday Challenge" has tons of lively fill and tricky clues:
  • [He sang with the Pharaohs] refers to SAM THE SHAM.
  • [Top of Hawaii] means an ALOHA SHIRT.
  • "LOVE STINKS" was a [1980 J. Geils Band hit]. Here's the video.
  • [In British lingo, it's stingo] means BEER. That's a new one on me. Speaking of booze, TOPE means to [Life one's spirits?] to one's mouth.
  • [Got into trouble, perhaps] is TOLD ON—getting someone else into trouble, that is, not getting yourself into hot water.
  • Your MASH NOTE [might be signed with tic-tac-toe symbols].
  • The toughest clue for me was [They may be counted on to complete a score] for TOES. A score is 20, and you can use your fingers to count to 10; to count to 20, you'll need to count on your TOES too.
  • ["Bernice Bobs Her Hair," e.g.] is a SHORT STORY by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
  • ALOE vera is ["The potted physician"]. I'm surprised I haven't seen this clue umpteen times before, given how often ALOE appears in crosswords. Similarly, ESAU shows up so often, you'd think the clue ["My Brother ___" (Grateful Dead hit)] would be used more.
  • I like the judgment suggested by [Exaggerated sense of power] for MACHISMO.
  • [Have an affair?] is a terrific clue for HOST.
  • WYES are a [Yucky couple?] because WYE is how you spell the name for the letter Y, and there are two Y's in yucky. Mr. and Mrs. Wye may also be a yucky couple.