July 15, 2008

Wednesday, 7/16

NYT 5:39
NYS 4:44
CS 4:36
LAT 3:45

(post updated at 10:20 a.m. Wednesday)

The last four Boston Globe Sunday puzzles—the always-on-syndication-delay Across Lite versions, which were further delayed by litzer Nancy Shack's travels, are now posted. The ones you're looking for are June 22 through July 13. I haven't done these puzzles yet and probably will not retro-blog them.

In other puzzle news, bloggers Ryan and Brian are puttin' on a hootenanny! They call it Lollapuzzoola '08, it's a mini crossword tournament, and it'll be in Queens on August 23. Registration is $10, and there'll be puzzles by Mike Nothnagel and Doug Peterson. (Details here.)

Patrick Blindauer's New York Sun puzzle, "Movin' On Up," has 15 H's in it, and they're all stacked up to make a rickety ladder. (It wouldn't be as rickety if I'd solved the puzzle on paper and drawn really wide, tall H's.) 7-Down's clue is [Visual representation of an item associated with the answers to the asterisked clues in this puzzle]. This is sort of a rule-breaker, as that "visual representation" can't really pass as a word—but then, rebus puzzles sometimes break that same rule. That 15-H ladder goes with a TREEHOUSE ([Backyard club locale]), CROW'S / NEST ([With 59-Down, lookout's place]), and FIRE / TRUCK ([With 57-Down, red vehicle]). By now, you probably all know that Patrick enjoys finding inventive ways of playing with crosswords and adding a visual or spatial or diagonal layer to the grid—so here, he's done it again. I'm partial to the wide-open corners of the grid, packed with 6- and 7-letter fill. My favorite clues:

  • [Chilling, so to speak] for RELAXED. Is "so to speak" the Sun's version of the NYT's "slangily"?
  • [Steered vehicles?] for OXCARTS, which are steered by steer.
  • [Hard wear?] for ARMOR.
  • [Level spot?] for SHOP. This one took me the longest to understand—I believe it's the tool called a level, which may be found in the wood shop.

Joe Krozel's New York Times crossword also breaks a rule: It's got eight answers that are only 2 letters long, whereas the standard crossword convention is that all answers must be at least 3 letters long. The note in the title field on the NYT's applet is incomplete: It reads only "The two-letter answers are state postal abbreviations." In the Across Lite version, a longer note is provided (oddly, in the title bar in teeny print rather than in the Notepad) that provides the state nicknames for the eight abbreviated states included. These are as follows:
  • Beaver State = OR at 62-Down
  • Beehive State = UT at 56-Across
  • Big Sky Country = MT at 20-Across
  • Heart of Dixie = AL at 11-Down
  • Pine Tree State = ME at 63-Down
  • Show Me State = MO at 6-Down
  • Sunflower State = KS at 47-Across
  • Volunteer State = TN at 27-Across

So, is this a 16-letter theme, or a themeless puzzle with a state gimmick? The word count (72 entries) is low enough for themeless status, and I can't detect any sort of theme in the longer answers. Those longer answers are groovy, though—four pairs of stacked 15's framing the grid. That layout of long answers wouldn't work unless 2-letter answers were allowed; otherwise, they'd be triple-stacked 15s framing the grid, and that may well be impossible to pull off—though I'd love to see such a crossword! The long answers are:
  • THREE MEN IN A BOAT, an [1889 Jerome K. Jerome comedy novel] I'm not familiar with.
  • HORNS OF A DILEMMA are [Undesirable alternatives].
  • CHOCOLATE MOUSSE is a [Dessert not for the calorie-conscious].
  • HONORARY DEGREES are [Some awards for accomplishment].
  • THUMBNAIL SKETCH is an [Outline].
  • Dr. Seuss's HORTON HEARS A WHO is [Whence the line "A person's a person, no matter how small"].
  • A MATTER OF COURSE is [Something customary]. Raise your hand if you mucked things up by discovering that PAR FOR THE COURSE would fit perfectly. (Thank you, Carlo PONTI who married Sophia Loren, for helping to rescue me.)
  • TAKING LIBERTIES is one way of [Pushing beyond proper limits]. Does this crossword take liberties with the form?

Other clues and answers of note: [Bear, in old Rome] is URSUS; [Put into office: Var.] is ENSTATE; ["You mean me?"] is a faux-innocent "MOI?"; [Something with this is not neat] refers to ICE in a drink; [Beautiful woman of paradise] is an old word, HOURI; RRS or railroads are the [Purview of the I.C.C.]; [Swing alternative] is BEBOP music; [Superior canal locale] is in the INNER EAR; [Forward] is the awkward REMAIL; STILETTO is a [Heel style] I've never worn; a plant [Shoot in a swamp] is a REED.


Wow, I really like the clues in Mike Peluso's LA Times crossword. The theme is SAWS at 69-Across—the six long theme entries begin with kinds of saws. There's no great phrase I can think of that starts with JIG (other than jigsaw puzzle, but that's got the saw right in it) or HACK (hack to bits is a tad violent), but Mike grouped these six saws together for his theme:
  • BANDSTAND, or [Outdoor concert venue]
  • BUZZ ALDRIN, or [Apollo 11 astronaut]
  • COPING WITH, or [Handling]
  • BACKSIDES, or [Posteriors]
  • SABERTOOTH, or [Cenozoic big cat]
  • HAND TOWELS, or [Kitchen driers]

My favorite clues were many: [Thicker on the page, maybe] for a BOLD font; [Animal, vegetable, and mineral] for NOUNS; [Cup's 48: Abbr.] for TSPS (teaspoons); [Incredulous dying words] for Caesar's ET TU; ["Aaay!" sayer of '70s-'80s TV] for the FONZ; and [It's neither here nor there] for LIMBO. A lotta theme, a lotta good clues, a solid puzzle.

Bob Klahn's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Cut and Paste," has a relatively blah quip: WALLPAPERING IS / EASY ONCE YOU / GET THE HANG OF IT. There were a couple things in the fill I simply didn't know. [Cat's-paw] is a SAP, with the term coming from a fable about a monkey who duped a cat and used the cat's paw to reach into the fire. I momentarily blanked on *ECKEL pears, the crossing for the first letter; they're Seckel pears. POTEEN is [Irish moonshine] and it's also spelled poitín. The crossings were fair, though.