June 20, 2009

Sunday, 6/21


*You don't really care; it's just PuzzleGirl.

[Updated at 9:45am with the LAT]
[Updated at 10:10am with the PI]
[Updated at 10:30 with the BG]
[Updated 12:00 noon with the CS

Hey, everyone, PuzzleGirl here with your Sunday puzzles. Someone remind me again why I told Orange I'd blog for her today? Oh yeah, I'm completely nuts. Sunday puzzles! They're just too big! Well, we might as well get started. I know it's a big drag when Orange is gone but let's just make the best of it!

Today's New York Times crossword by Matt Ginsberg and Pete Muller chewed me up and spit me out. I had to Google a couple times ("The horror!") and then when I thought I was all done, I had a mistake at [92A: Some pitcherfuls]. I had ALES instead of ADES and, I tell you what, for some reason mistakes on the downs are a lot harder for me to see than mistakes on the acrosses. BO DIDLLEY looked just fine to me the first ten times I scanned by it. Ugh!

The theme of this puzzle is "Famous Last Words," and theme answers are—you guessed it—last words of famous people. I'll be honest, I don't believe I've heard any of these quotations before. Have you? With a couple crosses in place, I could figure out most of them and they're pretty interesting!

Theme answers:

  • 1A/13A: "My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or the other of us has to go" (OSCAR WILDE)
  • 27A: "Die, my dear? Why, that's the last thing I'll do!" (GROUCHO MARX)
  • 32A: "That was the best ice cream soda I ever tasted" (LOU COSTELLO)
  • 53A: "Where is my clock?" (SALVADOR DALI)
  • 71A: "Leave the shower curtain on the inside of the tub" (CONRAD HILTON)
  • 87A: "I've had 18 straight whiskeys. I think that's a record" (DYLAN THOMAS)
  • 94A: "Don't let it end like this. Tell them I said something" (PANCHO VILLA)
  • 110A/113A: "I've had a hell of a lot of fun and I've enjoyed every minute of it" (ERROL FLYNN)
  • 20D: "I have not told half of what I saw" (MARCO POLO)
  • 46D: "I live!" (CALIGULA)
  • 48D: "Eva is leaving" (EVA PERON)
  • 68D: "I'm going to heaven!" (BO DIDDLEY)
I liked seeing AKC [42A: Huskies' org.] so close to DOGGONE IT [50A: Words of disappointment] and DESPOT [60A: Kim Jong-il, e.g.] crossing DEPOT [60D: Points on some lines]. I wasn't crazy about seeing ILLEGALS in the grid [104A: Raid targets]. That seems like a fairly derogatory term to me. And HANOI clued as [10D: McCain residence for 5-1/2 years]?? Ouch.

Fred Piscop's L.A. Times crossword, with its wordplay theme, was closer to my comfort zone. Theme answers are familiar phrases with an X tacked onto the end, resulting in new wacky phrases clued "?"-style.

Theme answers:
  • 23A: Rodriguez upset with negative publicity? (BITTER ALEX).
  • 25A: Film timepiece seen briefly? (CAMEO ROLEX).
  • 43A: Instability of stereotypical BMW drivers? (YUPPIE FLUX).
  • 64A: World's most perplexing problem? (GRAND CRUX).
  • 87A: Buckingham Palace add-on? (QUEEN ANNEX).
  • 107A: Rubber bedsheets? (SLEEP LATEX).
  • 109A: Cat on steroids? (MUSCLE MANX).
  • 36D: Encrypted Scriptures? (SECRET CODEX).
  • 39D: Highest point in North Africa? (BARBARY APEX).
You can see my full write-up of this puzzle at our other blog, L.A. Crossword Confidential.

Hey! A Father's Day theme! Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there! Merl Reagle's Philadelphia Inquirer puzzle lets us in on "What Dad Stands For" — theme answers are three-word phrases with the first letters D.A.D.

Wanna know DAD's favorite comedy? It's "Dumb and Dumber," of course. Favorite game? "Dungeons and Dragons," natch. I've never heard of "Duel at Diablo," but it came pretty easy through crosses, unlike "Dick and Dee Dee," which took a while to figure out because I also wasn't sure of the Carmen Miranda tune "Tico Tico." I am sure that I love her hat though. Other than that, it was a pretty smooth and steady solve, which is typical for me with Merl's puzzles.

The rest of the theme answers:
  • 39A: What DAD might do to irrigate the backyard? (DIG A DITCH).
  • 51A: DAD's favorite code? (DOTS AND DASHES).
  • 71A: How DAD may like his sports and politics? (DOWN AND DIRTY).
  • 96A: Like DAD's lectures? (DRY AS DUST).
  • 102A: What DAD never was in his army days (so he says)? (DRUNK AND DISORDERLY).
  • 117A: Words from Mom when DAD says no? (DON'T ARGUE DEAR).
I did have to laugh at myself at 1A. I saw [Moscow headgear] and though, "What do they call those FUR HATs?" ["My pretty," in a 1939 film] for DOROTHY is a truly inspired clue. And what would my guest-blogging stint be without me telling you something really dumb I tried to fit into the grid. For [68A: When metal-casting started] instead of the correct IRON AGE, I literally — literally — started writing in Stone Age until it was obvious it wouldn't fit. The clue for NELSONS [81A: Mandela and others] made me wonder if it would be kosher to clue this answer with, say, Mandela and Ozzie. One with the NELSON as a first name and the other with NELSON as a last name. I'm thinking that's probably not cool.

I thought I was going to strike out in the SW — I didn't know any of the downs on my first pass! Luckily, my parents are big horse-racing fans and HIALEAH [115A: Racetrack near Miami] was a gimme. Also [109A: Mary's TV friend] RHODA who I love, love, love. Isn't it hilarious that NO ONE said "Play it again, Sam" in "Casablanca"? How in the world do those kind of errors take hold and become part of our popular culture? 119D reminded me that I'm going in for my first ACUpuncture treatment on Friday. Can't think of a better way to spend a Friday morning than having someone stick needles in my body. Wish me luck!

Oh, I really struggled through Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon's Boston Globe crossword, "Trainspotting." For some reason the BG puzzles are always hard for me. I think it's because I'm only exposed to these constructors (Emily and Henry, and Henry Hook) once a week. I did eventually finish this one, but it was rough. It's so chock full of theme and then there's all the "Look here! Look there!" — made me dizzy! Kinda like motion sickness. Heh. None of the train names came easy — although once they were in, they all looked familiar enough. Here are the trains found in this puzzle:
  • 23A: Train of folk song (CITY OF NEW ORLEANS).
  • 34A: Chunnel train (EUROSTAR).
  • 40A/65A: Mystery train (ORIENT EXPRESS).
  • 56A/52D: Blues train (MIDNIGHT SPECIAL).
  • 81A/50D: NY-Chicago train (BROADWAY LIMITED).
  • 103A: Chattanooga train (CHOO-CHOO).
  • 3D: 16 Down predecessor (METROLINER).
  • 5D/50D: Train to LA (SUNSET LIMITED).
  • 9D/65A: Kids' train (POLAR EXPRESS).
  • 14D: 2008 film set on a train (TRANS-SIBERIAN).
  • 16D/65A: Speedy train (ACELA EXPRESS).
  • 55D/52D: Fiddler's train (ORANGE BLOSSOM SPECIAL).
  • 77D: "Train of the Stars," once (SUPER CHIEF).
Wow! Question: Could there be any more theme stuffed into this puzzle? Answer: No. No, there could not. This is like an industrial sized tub full of theme here. Amazing. And even though I had a lot of trouble with the puzzle, it was totally my fault and not because of bad fill. In fact, they even managed to sneak some theme-ish fill in with TRAY clued as [Passenger's prop], and TOWNS clued as [Whistle stops, maybe]. Also:
  • 20A: State seen from the California Zephyr (UTAH).
  • 71A: Rapid __ (urban trains) (TRANSIT).
  • 95A: Put the brakes on (EASE UP).
  • 109A: [SUNSET LIMITED] stop (HOUSTON).
  • 11D: Train depot (abbr.) (STA).
And correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure "Broken Arrow" (which shows up at 3D: Michael of "Broken Arrow" (ANSARA)) is the movie where the nukes are on the train. John Travolta and Christian Slater? Right? Anyone?

As I expected, Bob Klahn's CrosSynergy crossword was rough going but ultimately beautiful. The only gimmes I had the first time through were LEGS [11A: Trio for grand pianos], ALP [19A: High point of "The Sound of Music"?], PIÑON [36A: State tree of Nevada and New Mexico], and Robin WILLIAMS [33D: Star of "One Hour Photo"] (never saw it, but it looks really, really creepy). That's not much to build on! With some perseverance, though, things came into focus. I've never heard the word ORISON before [21A: Prayer]. ELASTOMERS [12D: Synthetic rubber compounds] was new to me too, but gettable through crosses. Well, eventually anyway. I had the most trouble in the SW where I had ensure for ASSURE [25A: Warrant] and had no idea about [41A: "The Fantasticks" narrator] (it's EL GALLO). Just looked it up and, guess what. I bet Tony Orbach didn't have any trouble with that one. But my downfall was my stunning lack of military knowledge. For [32A: USMC E-4s] I first had guns, then subs, then cols (making my way to the ballpark!), and finally, the correct CPLS. Yikes!

I also suffer from that particular brand of dyslexia where I fill in wrong letters even when I know the right answer if I've already got most of the crosses entered. In this case, I had smokeatter instead of SMOKE-EATER at 55A [Firefighter, slangily]. That means I was looking at -ILDARA for the [Horse-breeding county west of Dublin] and both C and K looked reasonable to me, so I went with the C. If I'd had the proper last letter in there, I'm sure I would have seen KILDARE. Of course, by that time I was feeling a little pressure to be done already so I could write this up and get on with my day! As always, I choose to believe that had I taken a little more time, I would have ended up with a perfect solution.

With any luck, Orange will be back tomorrow. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!