November 29, 2008

Sunday, 11/30

CS 8:36
PI 27:00
LAT 22:12
NYT (gave up after 46:00)
BG (unavailable — if you know any different, please let me know in the comments!)

Hey, everybody, PuzzleGirl here with your post-turkey-coma puzzle commentary. Hope you all had a great holiday weekend and are ready to get back to the routine tomorrow. I am particularly looking forward to the part of my routine where I send my husband and kids off to the bus and enjoy some peace and quiet. But I'm sure that's just me. So. The puzzles!....

The theme in Merl Reagle's "Crossword Crossword" Philadelphia Inquirer puzzle is geared toward a fairly specific demographic that, I'm guessing, you belong to. That's right, it's all about people who know a little something about crossword puzzles. You'll find yourself in this puzzle whether you LOVE LETTERS and consider yourself a fan, or if you're a really slow solver who averages THREE SQUARES A DAY, or even if you're a BLACK ADDER (a puzzle artiste who uses way too many dark squares). (Frankly it's the black subtractors that cause me the most grief — you know who you are!) We've also got one answer that RUNS ACROSS and another that GOES DOWN. Other crossword-y theme answers:

  • WORDS WERE EXCHANGED describes [How a puzzle was easily fixed].
  • [Lots of words cross] at a BUSY INTERSECTION.
  • [Part of a puzzle having no theme answers] is a NEUTRAL CORNER.
  • The ABC NETWORK is a [puzzle for beginners].
  • A [farfetched puzzle answer] is a FORCED ENTRY.
  • [Only half created, as a puzzle] is, of course, CLUELESS.
Other stuff I liked:
  • DO IT is [wasted advice to procrastinators] because, you know, they'll do it when they feel like it. I initially entered WAIT for this one, thinking that's even more wasted than DO IT because, you know, they're gonna wait whether you say anything or not.
  • So so happy to see golfer ISAO Aoki in the grid since I have finally -- Finally -- memorized his first name. PuzzleHusband tells me Aoki placed 2nd in the 1980 U.S. Open losing by only two strokes to none other than Jack Nicklaus. So he's no slouch. Not that you said he was.
  • Remember that angel that was on your shoulder in yesterday's puzzle? Today it's a California Angel, and it's touching you, and you're OUT.
  • I really like Jay MOHR [of "SNL" fame]. I liked him in that movie with Jennifer Aniston. Wait, he was in a couple movies with her. This is the one I liked. Oh man. That's the only movie they were in together. I thought they were in "Friends With Money," but that was Scott Caan. Do you care about any of this? I'm guessing not. Let's move on.
  • "Room enough to swing a CAT" is a colorful phrase!
  • I originally had ANKA singing "Getting to Know You" instead of ANNA. Just in case you were wondering how much of an idiot I am.
I've also finally caught onto DRAY as a [sturdy cart]. I used to work with a guy whose last name was Dray. When he and his wife had their first child, they named him Ethan. Another co-worker of ours had a baby that year and named him Cole Reddington. At the time, I assumed that there had been some sort of law passed that all new parents were required to give their babies Soap Opera Names.

So, okay, just one more thing. I really can't say anything bad about a puzzle that includes ARTE Johnson, George JETSON, TANYA Tucker, and JETHRO from "The Beverly Hillbillies." But here's the one thing I want to say to all you constructors out there: Enough with the rivers already! I don't know them okay? I just don't! I have some sort of mental block when it comes to rivers and there's no way I will Ever get them except through crosses, so it's just not fair any more. I hope we don't have to have this conversation again.

Richard Silvestri's New York Times crossword, "Uh-Oh," beat me up and beat me up good. Some of the problems stemmed from my own reasonable mistakes, like no joke for NO JIVE. Some of it was stuff I once knew but forgot, like that ANENT means [With regard to]. But some of it was just unfair. MENHADEN crossing DEODATO? That seems unreasonably cruel. GNAR? Seriously? What is that? SHAVUOT next to LANARK? (I actually knew SHAVUOT but wasn't sure of the spelling, which I think is Totally Reasonable given the whole Chanukah/Hannukah/Hanukah thing. Although I'm not Jewish, I do know a little bit about Jewish holidays. The first two that came to my mind in this case were sukkot and pesach. I tell you this just to clarify that I'm not a complete DOLT, i.e., [dummkopf], just because I couldn't finish this puzzle.) Okay, you know what? I'm in Orange's house and she doesn't typically rant about the puzzles, so I'm going to stop now. Sorry about that. Judging by the posted scores on the applet, some of you didn't have Quite as much trouble as I did with this puzzle anyway. (Hi, Dan! Hi, Byron!)

So the theme consists of familiar phrases in which an UH sound is changed to an OH sound:
  • [Helpful comment to a judge?] = THERE'S THE ROBE (rub).
  • [Fruit flies?] = PEACH FOES (fuzz).
  • [Dirty radio sitcom?] = LOAM AND ABNER (is this right? I have No Idea what this means).
  • [Jokey question to a Verizon technician?] = ARE WE HAVING PHONE (fun) YET? A tiny bit disappointed that this wasn't a riff on "Can you hear me now?," but it's still pretty funny.
  • [Darius the Scamp?] = PERSIAN ROGUE (rug).
  • [Pot-smoking cleric?] = FRIAR TOKE (Tuck). Love this one.
  • [Result of excessive rowing?] = PAIN IN THE BOAT (butt). This one too.
I spent some time today watching the NCAA National Champion University of Iowa Hawkeyes RASSLE today, so I was all over that. (Go, Hawks!) I'm a big fan of LOST [The story of the aftermath of Oceanic Flight 815] and occasionally wonder why it's not in the puzzle more often. Oh, and I had two incorrect first guesses that I thought were pretty good. I had piano instead of ATOLL for [Set of keys?]. And I didn't think of beth as a LETTER in the Arabic alphabet. No, to me, "Beth" (especially in six letters!) is and always will be, a ballad.

Updated Sunday at 11:00am:

Nora Pearlstone's LA Times crossword, "Medical Group," starts out with EM DASH [Punctuation that makes one pause] at 1 Across. That's all it took for me to fall in love with this puzzle immediately. If you know the difference between hyphens, em dashes, and en dashes; cringe when you see straight quotes instead of curly quotes; and feel actual, honest-to-God anger when you see a single open quotation mark where an apostrophe is supposed to be — well, then, you know what I'm talking about. Why, yes, people do refer to me as a dork occasionally, why do you ask? When posting on the web, I usually just use two hyphens instead of taking the time to make an em dash, but in honor of this answer I'm going to spend an extra minute or so on this post and make it, well, more easily readable to be sure. But ultimately? More beautiful. You're welcome.

Theme answers in this puzzle are familiar phrases with the letters DR added to them to create new phrases:
  • [Bar order for H.G. Wells's scientist Griffin?] = INVISIBLE DRINK
  • [Sound from a Southern shoemaker?] = COBBLER'S DRAWL
  • [Handyman's answer of "Boring" to the question "How's business?"?] DRILL HUMOR
  • [Sagging area between buildings?] = ALLEY DROOP
  • [Window treatment in old Morocco?] = BARBARY DRAPES
  • [Misplace a channel-making machine?] = LOSE ONE'S DREDGE
  • [Cattleman's asset?] = DROVER-CONFIDENCE
  • [Illegally try to collect flood insurance?] = DROWN ONE'S OWN HOME
Too bad that last one needs a pronunciation change to make both phrases work. Also, is [Boomer who's actually a boomer] ESIASON showing up in puzzles a lot lately, or is it just me? I know you've all seen Palin and CLEESE's "dead parrot" sketch. Good stuff. I just had to find a picture of ANNA SUI's Secret Wish Magic Romance perfume and I was right — the bottle is hideous. I know someone has explained the difference between a [Tolkien menace] ORC and an ent, but I can't retain it. I'm guessing I'm the only one here who noticed this, but [Winnebago descendants] IOWAS is crossing [Big name in discount brokerage] SCHWAB, which could also be clued as National Champion University of Iowa assistant coach and Olympic wrestler Doug. Okay, I've been rambling too long about this puzzle, so I'll leave you with LYLE Lovett and be back in a little while with your CS write-up.

Updated Sunday at 11:30am:

Today's CrosSynergy crossword by Bruce Venzke and Stella Daily was a fun, quick romp for me. Exactly what I needed after the pressure of filling in for the irreplaceable Orange on a bunch of puzzles that took me a long time.

CAJOLE is a great word, isn't it? And I really didn't see it coming at all. Threw in the J for JET and thought, "Well, that can't be right!" For [Opera alternative?] I was thinking of the web browser and confidently entered Safari. I guess the question mark cued a misdirection on the word alternative instead of on the word opera. How is it possible that I knew SAILOR Moon off of just the S? I read [Porcine toon] as Porcine tooth and had no idea what was going on there with PETUNIA. NEPTUNE is now the [Furthest planet from the sun]. Poor Pluto. For [Arnold-esque?] I was thinking Tom? Roseanne? No, Benedict: TREASONOUS. Are TIE tacks fashionable now? I suppose I could ask PuzzleHusband who, inexplicably, went all Metrosexual on me sometime in the last few years. Not that I'm complaining. Okay, I'm complaining a little that his shoe collection is more impressive than mine, but other than that, it's all good.

Thanks for letting me hang with you guys. I think I'll be seeing you again at Christmastime, which is right around the corner. That's right, people — it's time to get out there and SHOP!