August 06, 2009

Thursday, 8/6

CS 8:12 (J—paper)
NYT untimed
LAT untimed
Tausig untimed

Hey, everyone. PuzzleGirl with you again for your Thursday puzzles. Unfortunately it's very very late and I just got home from a concert and I, honestly, I don't know what the hell I was doing when I told Amy I'd do this for her. So, the write-up is going to be super-quick tonight and you all can feel free to yak it up in the comments.

Dan Naddor's New York Times puzzle riffs on common spelling/pronunciation errors. Theme answers are:

  • [*Privilege] = PEROGATIVE
  • [*No matter] = IRREGARDLESS
  • [*And so forth] = EXCETERA
  • [*Ways things are said] = PRONOUNCIATIONS
  • [*Sign to look elsewhere] = ASTERICK
  • [*Stumbled upon] = CAME ACROSSED
  • [*As it's widely believed] = SUPPOSABLY
The reveal is at 29A where ERR is clued as [Use the answer to any of this puzzle's starred clues in ordinary conversation?]

I didn't know CASCA [Conspirator against Caesar] or RUSK [Kennedy's secretary of state], but I'm pretty sure that says more about me than it does about the puzzle. And, ya know what? I'm sorry, that's all I can do for you today. Please go nuts in the comments.

Dan Naddor's L.A. Times puzzle— hey, wait a minute! Didn't I just ...? Yep, it's WDNR today — All Dan Naddor, All The Time. This puzzle plays on all the different ways you might say pal.

Theme answers:
  • City slicker's getaway = DUDE RANCH.
  • Like some sharks = MAN-EATING.
  • Honoree in Don McLean's song "American Pie" = BUDDY HOLLY.
  • Kraft Dinner contents, familiarly = MAC 'N' CHEESE.
  • Maker of Flava-Craze lip balm = CHAPSTICK.
  • Casual wear item = SPORTCOAT.
  • Out with the guys, and an apt title for this puzzle = PALLING AROUND.
And because, seriously, it's 3:00 in the morning at this point, I'm going to link you to my write-up over at our other blog. And then I'm going to get some sleep. Promise I'll be back tomorrow with your Tausig puzzle.

Updated Thursday morning:

Lynn Lempel's CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, "Difficult Choice"—Janie's review

Casting no aspersions on her age, lemme say it's easy to love this "difficult" puzzle by OLD PRO constructor Lynn Lempel [One with plenty of experience]. The five "in the language" theme-phrases all begin with a synonym for the word difficult, and each appears to be either a CS- or major publication-first. Say it with me: "fresh fill." Take a look. There's:
  • 16A. TOUGH LOVE [Refusing to bail out one's kid, say].
  • 10D. KNOTTY PINE [Common wood paneling]. A CS-first, and let's see. That paneling would look something like this perhaps...
  • 39A. HARD HAT [Construction worker]. Another CS-first.
  • 29D. ROUGH DRAFT [Early stage of a manuscript]. And a final CS first-timer.
  • 65A. STICKY BUN [Pastry with nuts and a sugary topping]. In our house, these were called schnecken -- and oh man, are they good!
There's the feel of a friendly battle-of-the-sexes in much of the non-theme fill today. Representing the gents, we have three media-men: esteemed and long-time [NPR news commentator Daniel] SCHORR; [TV host with all the answers] Alex TREBEK (CBS is the AIRER [Broadcaster] of the long-running Jeopardy!); and star of screen and stage, ["Chicago" actor Richard] GERE. And I don't want to forget ADAMS [Presidential family name] of John and John Quincy or that other founding-father type (or founding-father wannbe say some...), AARON Burr [Duelist with Alexander] Hamilton. Because of the middle "A" in ADAMS, my first fill there had been OBAMA. Love the guy, but kinda glad that it wasn't. Oh, and Prince Charles gets a shout-out by way of the clue for POLO...

On the distaff side (so to speak), an equally distinguished lot. And more of 'em, too— fictional and non-. Looking at the latter, there're sportswomen VENUS Williams [Serena's frequent doubles partner] and [Skating medalist] ITO [Midori]; political [Woman of the House] Nancy [PELOSI] (from Baw'mer—my home town. Her father, Tommy D'Alessandro, was mayor of the city when I graduated high school [a hundred and seven years ago...], and his signature is on my diploma...); and REBA [McEntire of country music]. In the former category, there's stage and film's "IRMA [La Douce"], Margaret [Mitchell's fictional belle] Scarlett O'HARA and Thomas [Hardy heroine who gives birth to Sorrow], TESS...of the D'Urbervilles. Let us not forget HER [___ Excellency], a form of address most often used (in the U.S. anyway) for ambassadors, and the more homely MADRE [Miguel's mom]—whom I can almost see tending her HEARTH [Where to keep the home fires burning]. Oh, yes—and there's also that female [Choral voice], the ALTO. So it looks like there's a bit more yin than yang today.

We get a pair of theatre awards with the ultra-commercial TONY [...presented at Radio City Music Hall] and its downtown cousin, the OBIE [...presented by "The Village Voice"]; and a slew of sports references: a golf TEE, a RIFLE [...for target shooting], the aforementioned POLO and basketball's SUNS [Phoenix hoopsters]. And representing the sciences? MATH, slyly clued as [Course with some big dividends?].

As I hope you can tell, I definitely enjoyed this one. So I'M SORRY ["Please forgive me"], but I have to say I was let down to see both REBA and MAST today, as both had been in Patrick's puzzle just yesterday. Wassup, CS? I understand about reinforcing newbie solvers with repeated crossword vocabulary, but your terrific puzzles could only benefit from freshening up the 4-letter fill and not repeating quite so much so soon, no? I know, I know. Easier said than done. But something to consider.

Updated Thursday afternoon:

Here's the thing. (I know. There's always a thing with me, right?) I am Too Old for road-tripping to concerts and hanging out afterwards for autographs. Entirely Too Old. I'm totally out of it today. It feels like I'm walking through glue. So I just solved Ben Tausig's "All-Four Words" puzzle, which I liked very much, but about which I'm not going to say much. Despite the fact that I regularly admit to all the stuff I don't know and the majority of you likely think I'm a total idiot, today it's just too risky. I might say something really stupid that I will only comprehend many hours later and then I won't be able to show my face around here any more.

Theme answers today are hiding animal sounds:
  • Kobe Bryant, e.g., eleven times = NBA ALLSTAR
  • Surrounding region = METRO AREA
  • "Losers," according to CNBC's Rick Santelli = HOMEOWNERS
  • Artificial tissue generation materials = BIOINKS
  • Potato skins, onion rings, etc. = BAR FOOD
  • What can be found amid the phrases in 18-, 36-, and 58-Across, and 2- and 45-Down = CALLS OF THE WILD
I love the little quirky things I always learn from Ben Tausig. For example, that EBAY has a "human remains and body parts" policy. That IHOP doesn't serve real maple syrup. Good stuff.

Tomorrow is a big blogging day, so I'm going to rest up. I may have to call in the reinforcements to help me out. So come on back tomorrow to see what happens!