August 29, 2008

Saturday, 8/30

NYT 6:42
Newsday 6:41
LAT 4:57
CS 3:13

(updated at 11:15 Saturday morning)

Misha! It's been too long since we've seen a crossword by Michael Shteyman in the New York Times, and I gotta tell you, it reminds me of yesterday's Nothnagel: Lots of interesting entries and no garbage. Of course, it's a Saturday puzzle, so it's not unusual to encounter something you just plain don't know. For me, that's TALOS, the [Brass guardian of Crete, in myth]. Luckily, the crossings for that answer didn't put up any roadblocks for me. Oh, and PENNI, the [Old Finnish coin], again with reasonable crossings.

Michael built the grid around a lattice of 15-letter answers, three running across and three down:

  • GOOD CHOLESTEROL is a [Carrier of fatty acids]. This one relates to LIPID, or [Oil, e.g.]. Michael is interested in medical science, so we also see IN SITU, or [Undisturbed]; ALLELE, or [Mutated gene]; and a PAIN PILL, or [Anodyne].
  • FRENCH ONION SOUP is the [Common restaurant offering that was Julia Child's last meal]. Trivia I didn't know! (Also French: ARTISTES, RICHE, and the culinary rat's namesakes, EMILES.)
  • EBENEZER SCROOGE is a [Name associated with spirits], the ghosts of Christmas past, etc., and not bottled spirits.
  • "I DON'T FEEL LIKE IT" is an [Unenthusiastic response to an offer].
  • The Beach Boys' "CALIFORNIA GIRLS" is the [1965 hit parodied by the Beatles' "Back in the U.S.S.R."]. Trivia I didn't know!
  • The [Bakery item folded in half] is a PARKER HOUSE ROLL. Would you believe my faulty memory nudged me towards porterhouse rolls first? Steaky!

Favorite clues and answers:
  • One's [Bum] is one's HEINIE. Right up in 1-Across, like a full moon!
  • Alphonse D'Amato shortens to ALDAMATO, [Former senator with the memoir, "Power, Pasta and Politics"].
  • A [Rake] is a LECHER.
  • In [Silent's opposite], silent is a noun meaning a silent movie. TALKIE is the opposite.
  • [Ace, say] is a HURLER, as in a pitching ace in baseball.
  • ["My mama done ___ me"] is filled in with TOL'.
  • A [Hamlet] is a small town or a DORP. I think we had this pairing a year or two ago in another Saturday puzzle.
  • IN CAPS is [With emphasis, as text]. And I am NOT KIDDING.
Clues that may be a tad more vexing than the others:
  • [Sour condiment] is ALEGAR. (Lower down, ALLELE crosses ELGAR, echoing ALEGAR.)
  • [Work unit abbr.] is FTLB, as in a foot-pound.
  • [Florist's container] is a CACHEPOT. What? This, and ornamental receptacle that conceals a flowerpot. Oh! We have a pair of these on the front stoop.
  • [Fix, as sails] is RERIG. This is the closest to junk we have in this puzzle, and I swear it was in another crossword just this week.
  • EEK is a [Crossword cat with an exclamation mark in his name]. not know this feline.
  • [Songwriter Washington] is NED. Who? This guy. He wrote "Rawhide" and "When You Wish Upon a Star," and shares my birthday.
  • [Spinning circles?] are CDS in your computer or stereo.
  • [Word in many French family mottoes] is DIEU. Yes, more French. Tough clue for a fairly easy word.
  • [Cool red giant] is a C-STAR.


Doug Peterson's themeless Newsday "Saturday Stumper" doesn't have all the zip of today's NYT puzzle, but it's just as low on the junk-o-meter. RESIT, or [Pose again], is as bad as it gets, and it's neither obscure nor ungettable. Favorite clues:
  • [Two-thirds of sesqui-] is UNI. I was thinking of sesquicentennials and 150, but that's really one and a half centuries. So two thirds of 1.5 is 1, hence the prefix UNI.
  • A SIREN is an [Acoustical instrument], but not an acoustic musical instrument. With the SI in place, I nearly went with SITAR.
  • [Methuselah, for one] isn't just a biblical reference. It's a CHAMPAGNE BOTTLE that holds 6 liters.
  • [Cricket complement] is the number of players on a cricket team, or ELEVEN. It's not an insect body part.
  • ["Time Transfixed" artist] is RenĂ© MAGRITTE. I like Magritte and Dali and those wacky surrealists. 
  • [Tub stopper?] refers to a big ol' boat called a tub, and the "stopper" is the word AVAST.
  • [Freckle, essentially] is MELANIN.

To get a solution grid for the blog, I typed my answers into the Newsday applet. It was fine for typing in a series of Across answers one after the other. Filling in crossword answers piecemeal on this applet? That would drive me bonkers.

Robert Wolfe's themeless LA Times crossword is braced by three 15-letter answers in plain language. A disbelieving "YOU'RE NOT SERIOUS" means ["This must be a joke"]. ["Better!"] means "THAT'S MORE LIKE IT." And something [Honoring a former friendship] is FOR OLD TIMES' SAKE. After you REOIL something, or [Quiet more squeaks], you may need to give it a REWASH ([Second cleaning]). There are two messes, a STY that [doesn't get picked up often] and a RAT'S NEST, or [Cluttered place]. [Yarn material?] is LIES, as in "spinning a yarn" or tall tale. Less familiar answers abound:
  • [Hall of Fame Vikings lineman Carl] ELLER is not Aunt Eller, who seems to be the more popular ELLER in crosswords.
  • [British weapon designed in Czechoslovakia] is the BREN. Raise your hand if the first British gun that comes to your mind is the crossword-friendly STEN.
  • [Half-sister on "Charmed"] is PAIGE. What, a tough clue for Satchel Paige wasn't available?
  • [Detection] with your eyes is ESPIAL.
  • [Doctor, often] is a DOSER. I started out with another "odd job" answer, CURER.
  • [Katz of "Matinee"] is OMRI. His acting career is not thriving in adulthood.
  • [One of multiple chemical activators] is a COAGENT. This answer may be chemically active but from a crossword standpoint, it's INERT ([Still]).
  • [Sweetened parched grain] is PINOLE.

Thomas Schier's CrosSynergy crossword, "Boys Will Be Boys," runs together three words that can precede boy in each theme entry:
[A trio of boys] is COW STABLE GOLDEN. At first I thought all three would be agricultural/ranching in nature, but no.
The first [Three more boys] are WATER CHOIR PAPER.
The last [Three more boys] are WHIPPING PLAY FLY.
You know what would be fun? If the boys were arranged into groups of words that could double as an intelligible phrase. Say, a GOLDEN FRAT BUS (though that's not a 15). Or MAMA'S PRETTY LOVER (also not 15). You get the idea. Something more amusing than a series of words in random order.