October 23, 2008

Friday, 10/24

NYT 7:02
Sun 6:02 (by the way, downloading the Sun should work now at Cruciverb)
LAT 5:51
CHE 4:02
CS 3:22
WSJ 7:34

(updated at noon Friday)

Friday blogging will be light/late—my son is off school, and we need to get started on making a model of the earth. Mantle, anyone?

Frederick Healy's New York Times crossword is riddled with spots to trip or to draw a blank on, but somehow it all came together. What's in this 70-worder? There are some people, specific and general. Two people get the full-name treatment:

  • KARL MALDEN! He was the [Warden player in "Birdman of Alcatraz"].
  • The late JULIA CHILD is the [Subject of the 1989 musical monologue "Bon Appetit!"].
  • ANNIE HALL is make-believe—that movie was the [Oscar winner aftr "Rocky"].
Last names only for these folks:
  • Horace SAKS and Bernard Gimbel opened Saks Fifth Avenue, so SAKS is clued [Gimbel contemporary].
  • The late Leon URIS was ["O'Hara's Choice" novelist, 2003]. That Wiki page says "He was known for his long epic novels. In one episode of The Simpsons, Cletus uses one of his books to crack open the shell of a turtle, saying 'Nothing cracks a turtle like Leon Uris.'"
  • The PEALES were a [Family of 18th- and 19th-century painters.
On a first-name basis:
  • ["Married...With Children" actress Sagal] is KATEY.
  • [Novelist Binchy] is MAEVE.
Fictionally, we have the '70s [Sitcom guy with a frequently upturned thumb, with "the"], FONZ, and SATAN. The latter is a [Bad lover?] if he loves bad.

Then there are all the generic sorts:
  • YOU AND I are [We].
  • P.R. MEN are [Guys who make people look good], or they try to, anyway.
  • The CANTOR is [One whose lead is followed in the service]; that's just at synagogues, isn't it?
  • One [Unconventional sort] is a BEATNIK.
  • [One taking a first step] is a TINY TOT.
  • I don't care for the entry, but my friends' 15-month-old just took his first steps this week so it gives me some warm fuzzies.
  • HOT TAMALES are clued as [Sexy numbers]. Is it just me, or does that clue dehumanize?
  • SIBS are [Young rivals, often].
  • [Cancun kinsman] is TIO, or "uncle."
  • A [Supporter of the mascot Handsome Dan] is a YALIE. My brother-in-law's niece is talking to Yale's gymnastics coach about an athletic scholarship.
Geography figures into this puzzle, too:
  • [Chichi-___ (largest of Japan's Bonin Islands)] is completed by JIMA. (Also from Japan, the [Obi accessory] INRO.)
  • MICRONESIA is the [Country whose capital is Palikir].
  • A [Union member of the future: Abbr.] is a TERR, or territory.
  • ALP is the [View from the Arlberg Pass].
  • [Geneve and others] are LACS, French for "lakes."
  • Why is NEWARK the [Home of the University of Delaware]? I don't know.
Assorted other not-so-well-known bits:
  • [Yellow primrose] is an OXLIP. Does this flower resemble the lip of an ox?
  • MENE is a [Bit of biblical graffiti].
  • [Evening for Evangelo] is SERA. Does that mean Evangelo is Italian?
  • [1992 film directed by and starring Edward James Olmos] is AMERICAN ME.
  • [Every, in prescriptions] is OMN. Do doctors actually use this one?
  • [Seraglio section] is ODA. It's essentially a room in a harem.
  • The [Third-largest asteroid] is VESTA. Hmm, don't know it. Are #s 1 and 2 more famous?

Justin Smith's Sun crossword, "Swiss Cheese," has sprouted three HOLEs in rebus squares:
  • I sort of figured [Song that includes woofs in its chorus] had to be the Baha Men's "Who Let the Dogs Out," but the exact rebus eluded me for a while—it's W[HO LE]T THE DOGS OUT.
  • [Unified entities] are INTEGRATED W[HOLE]S.
  • In the middle, THREE-[HOLE] PUNCH is aptly clued as [What you might use to finish this puzzle—the three [HOLE]s are aligned along the diagonal, and you could use a three-hole punch to replace those squares with holes.
I like that my first name, AMY (or ["This Is the Life" singer Macdonald]—who?]) intersects with MR. HAT, the ["South Park" puppet] wielded by whacked-out teacher Mr. Garrison. I like other stuff, too, but duty calls.


The theme in Larry Shearer's LA Times crossword is spelled out in the final theme entry: DISAPPEARING INK is a [Prankster's item, and this puzzle's theme] because INK is removed from various phrases to create the other four theme entries:
  • DR. UNDER THE TABLE is a [GP due for a whopping hangover?]. I'm not wild about DR. appearing as a word here. (Drink under the table is a phrase.) Then there's also MDS, or [Hosp. workers], the AMA, and ON MEDS clued as [Following a doc's orders, in a way] to round out the physician sub-theme.
  • BLING LIGHT is clued as [The flash in flashy jewelry?], with the INK dropped from blinking light.
  • PIE RING alters pinkie ring, and is clued as a [Gang of bakery thieves?]
  • Sylvester Stallone's nickname is Sly, so SLY DRESSES (slinky dresses) are the [Wardrobe for Stallone playing a transvestite?].
The surrounding clues and fill slaughtered me, alas. TEL [___ Hai: Israeli monument site] was a bit much, as the TEL crosses two theme entries, and the puzzle's already got B'NAI Brith, HORAS, an ESSENE ([Supposed inhabitant of ancient Qumran]), and ERIC Bana (who played an Israeli assassin in Munich) for the Jewish/Israeli sub-theme. I've heard of MORONI as Mormonism's Angel Moroni, but not as the [Capital of the Comoros]. All sorts of clues felt like Stan Newman "Saturday Stumper" clues—the noun [Adept] is an ACE; [Evening] a game is TYING the score; [Beats] are TEMPOS and not a verb; the verb [Rush] means to BOLT. Slightly more specific were these clues that still eluded me for a while: The [Gist] of something is its KERNEL of truth; and [Pleasure seekers?] are IDS.

Was this one tougher than you expected, or am I just not on Larry Shearer's wavelength?

The theme in Raymond Hamel's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Spaghetti Western," kept me guessing, and when it finally added up, it made for a nice "aha" moment." Sergio Leone's The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly is the quintessential spaghetti western, and the three theme entries are 15-letter movie titles that begin with THE GOOD, THE BAD, and THE UGLY. The [2006 Matt Damon movie] is THE GOOD SHEPHERD, THE BAD NEWS BEARS is a [1976 Walter Matthau movie], and THE UGLY AMERICAN is a [1963 Marlon Brando movie]. Perfect theme, isn't it?

Karen Adams' crossword in the Chronicle of Higher Education just might be her debut. The theme is "Is There a Wort for That?"—Wort is German for "word," and the theme entries are all German words that have no one-word English equivalents:
  • REALPOLITIK is a [Word that means "foreign relations based on expediency rather than ethics"].
  • SCHADENFREUDE is a [Word that means "glee felt on hearing that something bad has happened to someone else"].
  • GESTALT is a [Word that means "a configuration that it not simply the sum of its individual parts"].
  • BILDUNGSROMAN is a [Word that means "a novel that traces the psychological development of a protagonist from childhood to maturity"].
  • FESTSCHRIFT is a [Word that means "a celebratory publication written by the colleagues of a retiring scholar"]. This is the only one whose meaning I didn't have a decent sense of.
Cool theme. I also like the anatomical collision between GLUTE, or [Certain muscle, slangily], and GLOTTIS, or [Laryngeal opening]. Things I didn't know: ROWE is [18th-century Poet Laureate Nicholas]. CAPUA is or was an [Appian Way city]. BODHI is [Enlightenment, in Eastern religion].

I had fun with Pancho Harrison's Wall Street Journal crossword, "Male Bonding." There are nine theme entries, famous men whose names include MAN at least once, and those MANs appear in rebus squares. Since [MAN]FRED MAN[N] has two MANs, that means there are 10 rebus squares that need to work out with intersecting Down entries. It all comes together smoothly, and some of the non-theme clues are fun: [Shell games?] are REGATTAS. [It has little foliage] clues BONSAI. [Tool used when the stakes are high?] is a SLEDGE, used to pound stakes into the earth. Archie [Bunker, for one] is a BIGOT. The fill contains a lively batch of words, such as Miami Vice's TUBBS, a GUSHER, ONE-NOTE, GARBLE, ROOMIES, Huey Lewis and THE NEWS, and SPLATTED like a water balloon. I still want to grumble that the WSJ crosswords have been easier than usual of late, but this one was a little closer to the mean, and the rebuses were fun to root out rather than burdensome. Anyone else notice DANTE and PEAK appearing in sequence together near the bottom? Dante's Peak was a volcano movie.