October 24, 2009

Daily Beast, 10/23/09

Daily Beast - 12:18

I do a lot of puzzles. Over ten a day on average. This is not an estimate. Some of you will know I like to track things in spreadsheets. So it was only natural I decided to determine how many puzzles I solve in a year. This Sunday marks day 365 and this is puzzle 3,677.

I’ve concluded that there are only two proven methods to get better and faster at solving crossword puzzles. One – do lots and lots of puzzles. Two – Buy “How to Conquer the New York Times Crossword Puzzle: Tips, Tricks and Techniques to Master America's Favorite Puzzle” by Amy Reynoldo (convenient link at right). I’ve done both, and I am now quicker than Amy. Well, I was twice. 2 wins, 3,675 losses. Still better than the Washington Nationals since they left Montreal. By the way, this is the 15th anniversary of the Expos only World Series win. I refuse to acknowledge that a strike in 1994 cancelled the season and the playoffs when the Expos had the best record in baseball. I count it as a victory.

Speaking of “The World Series”, that is the title of this week’s Daily Beast puzzle by Matt Gaffney. Like the ’94 Expos/Yankees, we have fictional battles between worlds that don’t exist outside the imagination. I struggled a bit in a few areas and was shocked to discover I solved this without error.

Theme answers:

23A: [World Series where little people battle Sauron in the Emerald City?] - LILLIPUT MIDDLE EARTH OZ. LILLIPUT is the land of little people in "Gulliver’s Travels". Sauron is the villain in MIDDLE EARTH in "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy. The Emerald City is where the Dorothy found "The Wizard of Oz".
36A: [World Series where Thomas the Tank engine runs in vampire paradise?] – SODOR UTOPIA BUFFYVERSE. SODOR is the island where the trains in "Thomas the Tank Engine" run. I have been a model railroader (not so much now, as 3,677 puzzles have taken up a bit of my spare time) but didn’t know this. UTOPIA is the term for a perfect place, first used in “Of the Best State of a Republic, and of the New Island Utopia” by Thomas More. BUFFYVERSE is the slang term for the place where the TV series "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Angel" were set.
65A: [World Series where the Marx Brothers rule Clark Kent?] – FREEDONIA SMALLVILLE. FREEDONIA was the European country run by Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho Marx) in the movie “Duck Soup”. SMALLVILLE is the town where Clark Kent grew up, and depending on the version of the movie, TV show, comic you are looking at, was or wasn’t Superboy before moving to Metropolis as Superman.
91A: [World Series where Homer Simpson makes chocolate bars?] – SPRINGFIELD LOOMPALAND – SPRINGFIELD from “The Simpsons”. LOOMPALAND is where the Oompa-Loompas of “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” are found.
109A: [World Series where Aslan the Lion lives in an archipelago playing MMORPGS?] – EARTH SEA NARNIA AZEROTH – Huh? Welcome to “Googling with Jeffrey”. The world of EARTHSEA is one of sea and islands: a vast archipelago of hundreds of islands surrounded by mostly uncharted ocean, created by Ursula K. Le Guin for her short story "The Word of Unbinding". NARNIA is the land in the C.S. Lewis books. AZEROTH is the land where "World of Warcraft", a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) takes place. I knew NARNIA.

Other World Series references (the baseball kind):

77A: [Player with the most World Series rings of all time] is Yogi BERRA with ten.
99A: [1988 World Series MVP Hershiser] is OREL.
118: [1978 World Series MVP Bucky] is DENT.

I’m exhausted from explaining the theme answers, so some closing bullets:

• 6A: [Brown’s predecessor] is BLAIR. British Prime Ministers.
• 32A:[Half a 1980s sitcom pair] – Kate and ALLIE
• 82A: [Swiss watchmaker] / 66D: [inflatable bed maker] – RADO/AERO. The crossing of two makers. “O” was a semi-guess.
• 85A: [Rosie who cheated in the 1980 Boston Marathon] /85D: [Political cartoonist Ted] – RUIZ/RALL. The crossing of two obscure people. I knew RUIZ but I’m guessing many missed this. 90A: [Pet problem] – MANGE didn’t help.
• 2D: [He beat Arthur to win the 1972 U.S. Open] is ILIE Nastase. I used to spell this wrong until I noticed it is I LIE.
• 14D: [Mauna KEA, Hawaii] /16D: [20th-largest island in the U.S.] – OAHU. Aloha.
• 26D: [Christopher of “Deathtrap”] – REEVE. Another Superman reference.
• 36D: [Place to learn, cutesy-style] – SKOOL. Wear ewe cann learn two spelle.
• 39D: [Stuff in a tent] –OXYGEN. Great clue.
• 113D: [2016 Olympics locale] – RIO. The torch headed to the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver will pass a block from my house on Friday. I'll try to get a picture and post it next week.