May 27, 2009

Thursday, 5/28

NYT 3:48
CS 7:28 (J—paper)
LAT 3:33
Tausig tba

Eek! You know what I should've done today? Gotten myself all squared away for tomorrow morning's Jeopardy! audition. I need to fill out the form with my anecdotes and get to bed, so let's do the short-form blogging.

Gary Cee's New York Times crossword

That's an unfamiliar name in the byline, and it's great to see a cool theme from a newcomer. The central answer, GET OVER IT—[Advice for the brokenhearted...or one of four arrangements found literally in this puzzle]—explains the theme, which is entries with an embedded GET appearing OVER a phrase with a hidden IT. To wit:

  • 17A PAGE-TURNER, or [Something that's hard to close?], is above 20A IMITATE, or [Mirror].
  • 21A ROGET'S, or [Editor's resource], is over 26A SUITOR, or [George Knightley, to Emma Woodhouse].
  • 50A BEGETS, or the verb [Fathers], is over a 55A BITMAP, or [Certain computer image format].
  • 57A SAGE TEA, or [Herbal beverage], is over 60A INQUISITOR, or [One in search of heretics].

They're aligned G over I twice and E over I twice.

Five clues: [Diggers' org.] is UMW, the union of mine workers. [Hungarian Communist leader ___ Kun]'s first name is BELA. John Philip SOUSA was a [Bandmaster from 1880 to 1931]. BREA is a not-so-well-known [City in Orange County, Calif.]. [Shoe part that touches the floor] is the OUTSOLE.

That's all the time I've got for this puzzle. Tune in Thursday morning for Janie's take on the CrosSynergy puzzle and sometime in the afternoon for the LAT (PuzzleGirl will have her solution grid and write-up at L.A. Crossword Confidential in the a.m.) and Ben Tausig's Ink Well puzzle (which originally did not have circles in the grid, so I completely missed half of the theme entries).

Updated Thursday morning:

Randall J. Hartman's CrosSynergy puzzle, "May the Fors Be With You"—Janie's review

What we have here is a fine example of verbal "for"-play. Randy has given us one noun phrase and three verb phrases, and altered each by placing the word "for" in the, um, forward position. In this way:
  • AGE LIMIT becomes FORAGE LIMIT [Extent of a search for food?] (17A). What I particularly like about this one is the way AGE loses its English-language meaning to the new, unrelated word (from the French fourrage) it's now a part of. This is the only one of the theme fill to do so and it's also the sole noun phrase. I'm not sure if, in the big picture that's a good thing, but still it's probably best that (when working with even numbers of theme fill) the exception holds the first or last place. And it had better be darned good. This one is.
  • GET THE AXE becomes FORGET THE AXE [What an absent minded Paul Bunyan might do?] (27A) What a great clue—we get the whole scenario most amusingly. Am envisioning Paul slapping his head and letting out with a good "d'oh!"
  • GIVE CHASE (an idiomatic way of saying "pursue") becomes FORGIVE CHASE [Pardon comedian Chevy] (47A). Oh, and there've probably been one or three people in his life who've done just that...
  • GOES NUTS becomes FORGOES NUTS [Eschews cashews?] (64A). Another clue fave.

The strength of this puzzle is in the theme fill and cluing. The remainder of the fill is absolutely fine but with a few exceptions, not strikingly fresh. I loved seeing DEAR DIARY in there (a CS first); and WEED EATER, too. Did you know there's a band by that name? By the looks of things, however, this is a different kinda weed...

And there are several skewed clues that help give this puzzle some nice AHA moments: [Call at home] for SAFE, where "call" is a noun and not a verb; [Filing aid] for EMERY, not some kind of 5-letter organizer; [Split ingredient] for BANANA, as in, "My dessert choice is the banana split"; [Tiger or woods, e.g.] for NOUN (see [Call at home]).

I'd even go so far as to say there's a mini baseball sub-theme, with the clue [Bull pen] (for CORRAL), that [Call at home]/SAFE combo, and the [Stat for CC Sabathia]/ERA pair. Where Sabathia is concerned, I'm afraid I've been living under a rock...

And for anyone who didn't know, Wikipedia tells us that "Romain de Tirtoff (November 23, 1892 – April 21, 1990) was a Russian-born French artist and designer known by the pseudonym ERTÉ, the French pronunciation of his initials, R.T." Forsooth!

Updated again Thursday afternoon:

Tom Heilman's Los Angeles Times crossword

Yeah, boy, it wasn't until I pieced together the theme that I truly accepted that the wrong-looking HOTBOILER actually was wrong. Al Hirt is probably the most frequently seen trumpeter in crosswords, so it took me forever to change [Hack's output] to the so-very-right POTBOILER. Yes, I know who Herb ALPERT is, but my HIRT impulse kicked in when I read ["Spanish Flea" trumpeter]. And then the [Film feline], yes, I filled in ILSA and pictured Ingrid Bergman's Casablanca character, utterly disregarding the inclusion of "feline" in the clue. ["Born Free" lioness] or [Designer Schiaparelli] would've been a safer clue.

The theme is POT CALLING THE KETTLE BLACK—those are the first words of five theme entries and they evoke a HYPOCRITE. Kudos to Heilman for including six theme entries and having the top and bottom pairs partly stacked together. Smooth, interesting fill—BANJOS, CHICANO, RANSACKS, TICKLE, POTSIE from Happy Days, a NERF ball, and some MOOLAH all have zing.