November 27, 2008

Friday, 11/28

Sun 14:08
NYT 5:16
LAT 4:57
CHE 4:09
CS 3:22
WSJ 7:03

(post updated at 11:15 a.m. Friday)

Joe Krozel packs 10 15-letter answers into his New York Times crossword, but he spaces them out so it feels different from the sort of themeless puzzle with lots of 15's stacked together. Here are the long answers, every one of 'em a lively phrase:

  • SHIVER ME TIMBERS is a [Cry on a corsair], which is not to be confused with a Corvair. (Pirate ship vs. unsafe car.)
  • [Something exercised by artists] is CREATIVE LICENSE.
  • THE COST OF LIVING? [It's high in Manhattan].
  • PENTATONIC SCALE is a [Music theory subject] I know zip about.
  • STING OPERATIONS are [Plans to nail suspects].
  • The [Goal of a neighborhood watch] is CRIME PREVENTION.
  • SERVICE STATIONS are [Island locales] in that gas pumps are located on little islands. Great clue.
  • [Coaching cliche] is THERE'S NO I IN TEAM. May I point out that there is also no WE or US in team?
  • CRITICAL ACCLAIM represents [Great all-around reviews].
  • [Is totally apathetic] clues DOESN'T GIVE A HOOT. Anyone my age can't hear "give a hoot" without thinking of the '70s PSA catchphrase, "Give a hoot—don't pollute."
Miscellaneous other clues:
  • [It makes pot potent: Abbr.] isn't the letters ENT—it's THC, tetrahydrocannabinol.
  • [Judah's house, in a Lew Wallace title] is HUR. Is this related to Ben-Hur at all?
  • [Thirds, e.g.] is MORE. More food! Anyone have thirds of Thanksgiving dinner? Anyone not have thirds?
  • There's a bizarre crossing between PSEC, a [Tiny fraction of a min.] (picosecond), and A SEC, as in ["Be there in ___"].
  • [State whose capital is Panaji] is GOA in India.
  • [Yom ___] is TOV. All I could think of is the Thai dish, tom yum.
  • TONI [___ Twins (pair in old ads for home perm kits)] dates back to the "Give a hoot" era. "Which twin has the Toni?"
  • [Part of O.H.M.S.] is ON HER, as in On Her Majesty's Service. Is the James Bond movie On Her Majesty's Secret Service playing on that?
  • [Rough housing] is a HUT and not just roughhousing, the action.
  • [Commandant's outfit: Abbr.] is USMC, the U.S. Marine Corps.
  • Roman numeral year! [Year Emperor Henry IV was dethroned] was MCV, or 1105.
  • [Verb from which "sum" is derived] is ESSE, Latin for "to be." Latin sum means "am" (or maybe "I am").
Fraser Simpson's Sun puzzle is a cryptic crossword, and it's a good bit more challenging and involved than the NYT Second Sunday cryptics are. For a guide to solving cryptics, see Fraser's "How to Solve Cryptic Crosswords" tutorial. I wrote up my answers over at the Crossword Fiend forum before I noticed that there was already a PDF of the answers. In the PDF, "anag." means anagram; parentheses indicate letters inserted (CAPS) or deleted (lowercase); "hom." means homophone; "rev." means reversal. If you are hesitant about giving cryptics the old college try, read Fraser's tips and see if you get any of the clues in the puzzle. If you're stuck, peek at an answer or two—in my forum post, the answers are in white text, so you can peek at a single answer without having the rest of the puzzle spoiled. Often, having even just a single letter in place from a crossing will help you figure out what an answer is.


It took me a while to suss out the theme in Donna Levin's LA Times crossword. Each theme entry makes a pun using a demonym or nationality that sounds like a common English word:
  • [Bangkok wave?] is a THAI BREAKER (tie-breaker).
  • [Vocal ranges of Prague crooners?] are CZECH REGISTERS (check registers).
  • [Bilbao native al fresco?] clues BASQUE IN THE SUN (bask in the sun).
  • ["Come up and see my etchings, Helja," e.g.?] clues FINNISH LINE, as in a line used in a singles bar (finish line).
Highlights in the fill (which tended to the Scrabbly side): [Capo di tutti capi] is the KINGPIN. CHEEK gets a funny clue: [Half-moon?], as in a single butt cheek. MY GIRL was a [1965 #1 hit for The Temptations]. To NITPICK is to [Cavil]. The [2007 People magazine adjective for Matt Damon] was SEXIEST; Damon's response was funny.

Clues that got in the way of my finding the answers (as they're supposed to on a Friday):
  • CLEAT = [Nautical line securer]. Man, I hate nautical clues. No baseball shoes here?
  • HELLO = ["That is soooo stupid!"].
  • RAPID = [Like arpeggioed notes]. Man, musical terms are not my forte.
  • SOX = [Bo follower?]. I had the OX and went with TOX.
  • FROST = the verb [Top in a bakery]. I was thinking noun and CRUST.
  • SERMONS = [Homiletics subject]. Homiletics is "the art of preaching or writing sermons."
Randy Ross's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Riddle Me Math," dispenses four riddles that hinge on math-oriented puns:
  • [How did the mathematician describe a Sicilian pizza?] He said PIE ARE SQUARE. πr2 is the formula for calculating the area of a circle. To calculate the area of a Sicilian pizza, just multiply the length by the width.
  • [What did the mathematical pirate say when his bird flew away?] POLLY GONE. A polygon is a multi-sided shape.
  • [What did the mathematical mermaid buy at Victoria's Secret?] Why, ALGAE BRAS, of course. I don't think algebra takes a plural, but the S was needed to create a 9-letter answer to balance POLLY GONE.
  • [What did the mathematical lumberjack dance to?] LOGGER RHYTHM (logarithm).
The fill includes 22 answers that are 6 or 7 letters long, which gives the puzzle added freshness. There's the [Persian poet] Omar KHAYYAM, for example, and MT. SINAI, a [NY hospital named after a biblical site]. My favorite clue was [Harry and Tara] for REIDS—one doesn't ordinarily think of the Senate Majority Leader and the largely discredited actress in the same moment.

Ed Sessa's Chronicle of Higher Education puzzle, "School of Victual Arts," is more playful than most CHE crosswords. The theme entries are five fields of academic study punned out with food. For example, ["You'll view the world as thin sheets of pastry in our ___ class"] clues PHYLLOSOPHY, based on philosophy and phyllo dough. LINGUINISTICS combines linguistics and linguini. Sociology becomes SUSHIOLOGY; economics, EGGONOMICS; and literature, LIQUORATURE. Interesting fill includes ALATEEN and DOGBANE, VESPUCCI and the Battle of MIDWAY. Did you look at your fingers to figure out [Second digit from the right]? The answer is the TENS digit next to the ones place.

Dan Fisher's Wall Street Journal crossword has a theme that combines two things I like: word manipulation (e.g., anagrams, reversals) and geography. In each "Global Recession" theme entry, the capital city (or maybe just a large city) points you to a country, the name of which appears in reverse (in highlighted squares) in the answer. The rest of the clue gives a more straightforward definition of the answer:
  • [Huge sum from Havana?] is MEGABUCKS, with Cuba running backwards inside it.
  • [Bulky lizard from Bamako?] is GILA MONSTER, hiding Mali.
  • [Discerning in Jerusalem?] is CLEAR-SIGHTED with an embedded Israel.
  • [Martial arts target in Lima?] is a PRESSURE POINT with Peru inside.
  • Italy lurks in [Ancient tongue from Rome?], or EARLY LATIN. This clue works on an extra level, since Early Latin may well have been spoken exactly where modern-day Rome is.
  • [Screenwriters from Tehran?] are SCENARISTS around Iran.
  • [Breakfast treat from Muscat?] is CINNAMON TOAST, with Oman filling.
  • [Bedtime reading from Damascus?] includes FAIRY STORIES (Syria).
  • ["Seinfeld" actor from Nairobi?] is WAYNE KNIGHT (Kenya).
  • [Nacho toppers from Katmandu?] are JALAPENOS (Nepal). You actually can find nachos in Katmandu, but they may disappoint you.