August 06, 2008

Thursday, 8/7

LAT 5:57
NYS 5:48
NYT 5:17
CS 3:11

(post updated at 8 a.m. Thursday)

Man, am I beat. I was up for a few of the wee hours last night after the smoke from an Uptown fire (in the Vietnamese district, not the entertainment district) wafted a mile and a half and into my window. Then my son and I spent the day at my sister's and got home at 9:30, and I never did have a nap. So please pardon the abbreviated blogging.

Peter Collins and Joe Krozel joined forces again for the New York Times crossword. Let's get right to the theme: Vivien LEIGH (hat tip to Donald for the correction) and Clark GABLE were in Gone With the Wind, and those words are hidden within the four longest entries:

  • RUNNING ON EMPTY is [Ready to collapse, say]. Hey! My mood exactly.
  • THROW IT HOME is a [Plea from the plate] in a baseball game.
  • TOOTH ENAMEL is a molar, incisor, and [Canine coat]. 
  • CHOCTAW INDIANS were [Some World War codetalkers]. I like to parse that as "codetalkers from Some World War, I, II, whatever." (Ed.: The Across Lite version has [Some World War I. code talkers]. Is it just me or have we seen a surprising number of NYT slip-ups this summer?)
The fill's got a quartet of non-thematic 10-letter entries spicing things up. Yesterday's TAEL falls in my "old-school crosswordese" category; so does AINU, or [Japanese aborigine], a word I used to see much more often in crosswords. That A crosses [Quatrain form], ABAA; I wonder how many solvers across the country opted for the incorrect ABBA/BINU or left that square frustratingly blank.

Regular constructing partners Patrick Blindauer and Tony Orbach teamed up once more for the New York Sun puzzle, "Gevalt!" They insert an OY into four phrases to radically alter their meanings:
  • Cling wrap + OY = CLOYING WRAP, or [Sappy boa?].
  • Ann Landers + OY = ANNOY LANDERS, or [Bother some space vehicles?].
  • Tomb Raider + OY = TOMBOY RAIDER, or [Peppermint Patty's panty thief?]. This clue is incorrect. Peppermint Patty either wears boxers or goes commando.
  • Bus driver + OY = BUOYS DRIVER, or [Lifts actress Minnie's spirits?].
I hadn't seen the ATELIER/[Painting place] combo when I used the word atelier in the previous post about Patrick's special puzzle. (It's possible I'm clairvoyant. Or clairvOYant.) Tough spots: [Apple variety] ending in I is FUJI (crunchy, juicy), not the Mini computer from a couple years back. [Men's fragrance brand] is IZOD. KIX isn't just a cereal (who knew?)—it's also [Band with the 1988 album "Blow My Fuse"]. Good gravy, why are RAISINS an [Ice cream mix-in]? Chocolate chips, sure. Berries, cake, candy bars, sure. Raisins in ice cream? Bleh. [It's used in the months of Kislev and Tevet] takes my crosswordy knowledge of Hebrew months (Elul and Adar) two months further—the answer's MENORAH.

Over and out for tonight.


The LA Times crossword by "Lila Cherry" (really Rich Norris) took me longer than today's other puzzles, partly because it's got a 16x15 grid and partly because of a key misstep. The theme marks the return of the Summer Olympics this week with five events:
  • GYMNASTICS is clued as [Skills on mats].
  • ARCHERY is [Toxophilite's sport]. Big vocabulary word!
  • MODERN PENTATHLON gets a cross-referenced clue, [See 61-Across]. 
  • SAILING leaves the Olympics and gets clued as [Christopher Cross #1 hit].
  • EQUESTRIAN is the aforementioned 61-Across, [With fencing, running, shooting and swimming, a component of 41-Across].
  • Acrostic-style, the first letters of these answers spell out GAMSE. The [Word that can be spelled by rearranging the first letters of answers to starred clues] at 72-Across is GAMES.
  • That answer is modified by OLYMPIC, clued as [WIth 72-Across, where to see the answers to starred clues]. Usually a theme's unifying answer is a short word. Here, it's two words, one of which is an anagram of the five primary theme answers' initials.
I might've liked this theme more if all the theme entries had been clued as sporting endeavors—that Christopher Cross song takes me away to a bad place. I mucked things up in the middle of the puzzle by thinking MODERN DECATHLONS before I made it down to 61-Across. Outside of the thematic stuff, this puzzle seemed rather tough to me. Cases in point: The Spanish word CAPA, [Matador's cloak]. GMS clued as [Trading execs], presumably in baseball (?). LINO, or [Kent kitchen floor]. [More likely to bend] sounding like an -ER comparative, but it's LENIENT. IMMESH, or [Entangle]. The [Spanish sherry city] JEREZ, which can be spelled other ways too. TENT clued trickily as a [Clearing house?], or small house in a forest clearing. [Mountain, in Quechua] for PICCHU, as in Machu Picchu. [Kid of jazz] ORY. [Since] for IN THAT. [Java site] for an URN of coffee.

Randolph Ross's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Post Exchanges," takes four phrases that end with post and anagrams that word to change the meaning of the phrase:
  • HITCHING SPOT is a [Place in front of a saloon in the old West]. Very little difference, in this case, between a hitching post and a spot for the same kind of hitching. I might've worked something about wedding altars into the clue.
  • The Washington Post newspaper turns into WASHINGTON POTS, [George and Martha's cookware].
  • The heavily trafficked political blog called the Huffington Post (after founder Arianna Huffington) becomes HUFFINGTON TOPS, [Arianna's blouses]. 
  • MILITARY "STOP" is [Soldier's order to halt].

PLATYPI is a tricky non-S plural, [Swimmers with flat feet]. The lunch meat called BOLOGNA [may be coming through the rye] bread. NAPHTHA is a [Highly volatile hydrocarbon], as in fels naphtha soap. I like this one: [Diamonds on the soles of one's feet?] clues ARGYLES, or Argyle socks. I don't know that the argyle pattern is knit into the sole of the sock, but I like the evocation of Paul Simon's song, "Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes."