August 05, 2008

Wednesday, 8/6

NYS 3:46
NYT 3:13
CS 3:10
LAT 3:04

(post updated at 3:30 a.m. Wednesday)

This is the second New York Times crossword by a teenaged constructor this week—Caleb Madison, who made his debut in May, is 15. (Monday's Oliver Hill is 18 now.) That may be 15 going on 75—at least where 70-Across is concerned. That ol' [Chinese weight], the TAEL, was a routine crossword answer back in the day, but it's been used only five other times in the last decade in crosswords. Anyway...the theme is movies and movie characters and a sports nickname that end with KID (46-Across). There are six theme entries from which the KID has been lopped off, and the missing KID isn't alluded to in those clues:

  • [1972 Charles Grodin film, with "The"] is The HEARTBREAK Kid.
  • [1984 Ralph Macchio film, with "The"] is The KARATE Kid. This one tipped me off to the theme instantly.
  • [Willie Mays's sobriquet] is the SAY HEY Kid.
  • [1965 Steve McQueen title role] is CINCINNATI Kid.
  • [1984 Matt Dillon title role] is the FLAMINGO Kid. Anyone see that movie? Anyone? No?
  • [Nickname for Harry Longabaugh] is the SUNDANCE Kid. Really? Harry Longabaugh? I had no idea. Never did see Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
In the non-theme fill, I had one gotta-have-every-crossing answer: ASO, [Japan's largest active volcano]. The 1-Across corner of the grid has AMTRAK ([Train company with a portmanteau name]), sure, but it's also mighty international. [Many a Punjabi] is a SIKH. [French girlfriends] are AMIES. That [Capital on the Arabian peninsula] is SANA, Yemen. And one [Religious leader in a turban] is a Muslim IMAM. Sikh men wear turbans too, but are not Muslim. Just below this corner, there's the LENA, a [River of Irkutsk]; ETES, or [Dijon seasons]; and Pablo NERUDA, ["Il Postino" poet]. In the lower left corner, a French PARC is there, clued as [Setting of many a Monet painting]. The middle of the grid's got TSO, the Chinese [General whose name is associated with chicken]. The upper right goes foreign with a dead language, the Latin QUOD. Under that is the Spanish OCHO, or [Dos cubed]. The worldwide tour winds up in the bottom right, back home with a YANKEE ([Munson, Maris or Mantle]).

My favorite collision of answers is where BIG BERTHA, the [Long-range German gun of W.W. I], meets the fresh phrase GO PRO, or [Lose one's amateur standing].

In the New York Sun, Mark Feldman says "They're in the Money." Who? Why, the people with units of currency for last names. I had heard of GEORGE GROSZ thanks to a 2006 Saturday NYT crossword that included him with a horrible crossing (soap opera creator IRNA Phillips, meet painter George GROSZ). A grosz is a Polish unit of currency. South Africa's money is included in dancer SALLY RAND's name. Baseball player CURT SCHILLING spent Austrian money (pre-euro). Poet EZRA POUND covers Britain, and the fictional ROCKY BALBOA found his wealth in Panama. (Here's Van Halen's "Panama" video.) Fill I enjoyed: Larry HAGMAN and Susan LUCCI from TV; REIKI, RAISA, and RAISIN echoing one another; SUEDES and unrelated SKINS; Greek action with STOICS, RHO, and PHI; and a political vibe to CITIZENS, FEDERAL, SWEARS IN, and PARDONS.


Patrick Blindauer's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Graphic Novel," finds something novel in each theme entry—the word NEW (67-Down) spanning the words in a phrase.
[Turned out badly] is GONE WRONG.
An [Independent sort] is a LONE WOLF.
CHEYENNE, WYOMING is, Patrick tells us, ["Magic City of the Plains"].
[Finished] means DONE WITH.
A [Dusseldorf drink, maybe] is RHINE WINE. Not to be confused with Rhine whine, which would be ach.
My favorite clues: A [Backyard pendulum] is a TIRE SWING. [Not so hot?] can mean just WARM. I had a ZITHER when I was a kid (neither my sister nor I could actually play it at all skillfully), but did not know it was a [Stringed instrument heard in "The Third Man"]. I'm not sure how I feel about the crossword readiness of the phrase WAS ON, clued here as [Performed really well, informally]. On does have a dictionary definition (adjective #3) reflecting exactly that sense, but if WAS ON is kosher, then what'll bar the door against entries like IS BAD, IS ILL, or IS MAD clued as stand-alone phrases?

Jack McInturff's LA Times crossword puzzle clues CIVIL WARS with [Internal conflicts, and a hint to the ends of 17-, 23-, 36- and 51-Across]. The other four theme entries end with a word that can precede war, but I'm not sure why the unifying entry is CIVIL WARS and not simply WARS. The theme entries are:
  • LIST PRICE, or [Sticker number]. Price wars can benefit buyers.
  • BLOWS HOT AND COLD, or [Vacillates]. The Cold War. 
  • LAUGHING GAS, or [Dental anesthetic]. Let's see...gas war? There's the Bolivan gas conflict. Is that it?
  • DOES ONE'S BIDDING, or [Carries out orders]. Bidding wars can benefit sellers.
Clues in review:
  • If you're [Really enjoying something], you're INTO IT.
  • [Sorry sorts] are RUERS. This is...not a word I have used.
  • [Confederate general who was a descendant of Thomas More] is LEE. Trivia! He knew a thing or two about CIVIL WARS.
  • The clinical word for the [Armpit] is AXILLA.
  • [Fancy marble] is a TAW. When's the last time you saw a kid play marbles? My son was playing with marbles yesterday.
  • TNT is a [Component of the explosive Baratol]. Am glad it's not BARATOL in the grid.
  • One [Symbol on a red-white-and-blue flag] is the LONE STAR of Texas.