June 27, 2009

Sunday, 6/28

NYT 7:38
PI 7:29
BG 7:19
LAT 6:46
CS 3:34

Barry Silk's New York Times crossword, "Secret Ingredients"

I'm heading out for the evening, so I've only got a couple minutes to talk about the puzzle. The theme is hidden (in circled squares) herbs and spices within non-food phrases. Since when is JASMINE a food ingredient?? That mystified me.

2-Down is also a mystery: the last name of [Cesar ___, five-time Gold Glove winner, 1972-76] is CEDENO. He is not famous among non-baseball fans, nor among crossword solvers in general. I also had no idea about one of the theme entries: 124-Across, [Tiny friend of Dumbo], is TIMOTHY Q. MOUSE. And I blanked on the JASMINE guy's middle initial—JAMES A. MICHENER? (["The World Is My Home" memoirist, 1991].) All righty then.

There's plenty of lively fill PEPPERed with a couple clunkers like DRAWEE—which makes me want MANATEE to be part of a family of words like manater, manating, etc.

Back for more on Saturday night:

Let's run down some clues in Barry's NYT puzzle, shall we?

  • 1A. [Blade for blades] is a sharp SCYTHE that cuts blades of tall grass.
  • 7A. BEDLAM! I love that word. It can mean [Pandemonium].
  • 13A. LORD JIM is an interesting and unusual crossword answer. This [1965 title role for Peter O'Toole] was written by Joseph Conrad, who was born in Poland, like 96A's [1983 Peace Nobelist], Lech WALESA.
  • 25A. [Last king of a united Israel, in the Bible] is SOLOMON. Thanks to the OVO, or [Egg: Prefix], that I wanted to be OVI, DROWN, or [Be covered with, with "in"], that I wanted to be DRAPE, and I WON, or [Cry of glee], which looked to be I WIN, I started out with the very wrong SILAMIN here.
  • 38A. Theme entry COARSE-GRAINED WOOD is clued as [Oak or ash] and it contains a hidden OREGANO. "Coarse-grained wood" isn't such a familiar phrase in my household.
  • 64A. [It was flown by James Bond in "Dr. No"] clues the airline PAN AM.
  • 80A. There's a WENDY who's a [Title girl of a 1964 Beach Boys song]? Never heard the song. Am grumbling that the clue says "girl" rather than "woman." The lyrics don't seem to call her a "girl."
  • 83A. PAY THE PIPER is a great phrase to have as a crossword entry. It means [Suffer for acting unwisely], and it's hiding some PEPPER.
  • 101A. There's a PRINCETON SEMINARY that's a [New Jersey ecumenical institution]? Did not know that.
  • 12D. A restaurant MENU? [It may be written on a blackboard].
  • 34D. I like the Dutch double-A HAARLEM, a [Tulip-exporting city].
  • 59D. GAZELLE is as pleasing to me as BEDLAM. It's a [Swift runner] of the antelope variety.
  • 72D. PAISANO or paisan means [Buddy], particularly among Italians and Spaniards.
  • 76D. [It has 1,366 seats: Abbr.] clues the NYSE, my husband's company. Yes, we live in Chicago.
  • 116D. [Location for Apfelstrudel and Sachertorte] is WIEN, or Vienna in German. Mmm, cake.

Updated Sunday morning:

Merl Reagle's Philadelphia Inquirer crossword, "But That's a Whole Other Animal"

I would've included an N in this puzzle's title—I like "a whole 'nother." I also like this theme, even though on the surface it sounds rather flat: animals whose names suggest they're entirely different creatures. I hadn't realized the list of such animals was so long:
  • 23A. [It's actually a rodent]: PRAIRIE DOG.
  • 25A. [It's actually a lizard]: HORNED TOAD.
  • 40A. [It's actually an insect]: GLOWWORM. It's a beetle, specifically.
  • 42A. [It's actually a marsupial]: KOALA BEAR.
  • 58A. [It's actually a rodent]: GUINEA PIG.
  • 62A. [It's actually a seal]: SEA LION.
  • 23A. [It's actually a shark]: PORBEAGLE. The word is from Cornish dialect, possibly meaning port + shepherd.
  • 86A. [It's actually a clam]: GEODUCK. The "geo" part is pronounced "gooey." It's from the Salish language of the Pacific Northwest.
  • 91A. [It's actually a rodent]: GROUNDHOG. This is the third inaptly named rodent—a dog, a pig, and a hog?
  • 105A. [It's actually a bat]: FLYING FOX.
  • 107A. [It's actually a bird]: TITMOUSE.
  • 123A. [It's actually a lizard]: GLASS SNAKE. Why do I find these creepier than snakes?
  • 127A. [It's actually an insect]: SILVERFISH. Wikipedia informs me "they have no direct effect on human health beyond psychological distress to those who are frightened or disgusted by their appearance."
  • 55D. [It's actually a weasel]: POLECAT. Also called a skunk.

This was a fun theme to puzzle out, despite the discomfiture of glass snakes and silverfish. Here are a few clues and answers that jumped out at me: 79A [Emulates a famous Christian] is MUTINIES, the famous Christian being Fletcher Christian of the Bounty. 15D GEORGE III was the [British king in 1776]. 21A THANX is clued as [Postcard gratitude]. And 97D [Slangy denial] clues 'TAIN'T SO.

David Cromer's syndicated Los Angeles Times Daily Crossword, "End of the Road"

This puzzle seemed a good bit easier than the standard Sunday puzzle, though probably harder than Sylvia Bursztyn's L.A. Times Calendar puzzles. The theme is phrases that begin with words that can follow the "road" in the puzzle's title. For example, you get a road atlas out of ATLAS SHRUGGED, or [1957 novel with the working title "The Strike"]. A HOUSE OF CARDS is a [Plan likely to fail], and a road house is a bar or a Patrick Swayze movie. TRIP THE LIGHT FANTASTIC is a fantastic phrase; it's clued as [Dance, facetiously].

For more on today's LAT puzzle, check out PuzzleGirl's L.A. Crossword Confidential post.

Henry Hook's Boston Globe crossword, "Don't Try To Stop Me"

This puzzle's theme is phrases that start with "forever" words, except for one of the 21's in which INFINITE's in the middle: A FELLOW OF INFINITE JEST is how [Yorick] was described. If you've been thinking of reading David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest, you can join the Infinite Summer folks who are reading it this summer.

The other theme entries begin with the words PERMANENT, CONSTANT, ENDLESS, EVERLASTING, PERPETUAL, and ETERNALLY. Highlights: (1) The top and bottom pairs of entries are stacked together. (2) Two of the answers run all the way across the grid, 21 letters, and EVERLASTING GOBSTOPPER is a ridiculously cool entry. (3) CONSTANT CRAVING is a [k.d. lang hit]. I'm partial to her All You Can Eat album, but there's almost nothing from that in the first few pages of YouTube lang videos. (4) In the fill are lively answers like SPLIT HAIRS, TRENTON NJ, KATHY BATES, and (one I know only because I've visited Prague) JAN HUS, or [Czech martyr executed in 1415]. (5) [Ladies and gentlemen] is a great clue for BIPEDS.

Martin Ashwood-Smith's CrosSynergy "Sunday Challenge"

The main originator of triple stacks is back with top and bottom triple-stacked 15's in a 66-word puzzle. What's in the crossword? This:
  • 1A. You never know if [Fancy spreads] is leaning the canapé way or the grand estate way. This time it's the former, PATÉS DE FOIE GRAS.
  • 11D, 44A. [Tolkien creature], 3 letters, could be ENT or ORC. This time, they're both here.
  • 47A, 1D. [Rain, e.g.] is a WEATHER FORECAST and a [March event?] is a PARADE. Luckily, today's parade in Chicago gets a forecast of sunny skies, a breeze, and low humidity.
  • 7D. Is EPHEDRINE really a [Common decongestant ingredient]? Pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine, sure.
  • 23D. T.S. ELIOT is the ["Murder in the Cathedral" author].
  • 42D. [Ship's guidance system] is LORAN. The word comes from lo(ng)-ra(nge) n(avigation) and the system involves radio signals.