Sunday, April 29, 2007

Don't be mean to Mata on Monday

Today's New York Sun Crossword Puzzle is "Half Anagrams" by Kelsey Blakley. You can download this puzzle and join in on the fun for free here.

The anagrams are:


24: Display setting for an electronic toy (DEMO MODE) I just bought a new cell phone after keeping the old one way too long. (What can I say, I get attached to inanimate objects) The old one had a couple of crappy games on it, like "Snake" and "Blockbuster" that I don't think I ever played except maybe the day I bought the phone and the time I was trapped at the boringest movie ever made ("Chain"). The new one has some great games on it, like Sudoku, which is probably one of the best games for a cell phone ever -- but it's only a demo, you can only play for like a minute, so unless you're one hell of a Sudokuer, you're not going to finish unless you fork over some more cash to buy the full version of the game. That's progress, I guess, things get better, but you have to pay more for them.

25: Come back (REAPPEAR)

51A: One on the same side (TEAMMATE)

53A: What a minor hasn't yet achieved (LEGALAGE)

64A: Farrier, at times (HORSESHOER) Years ago, I was a caretaker at a Palamino ranch out in Colorado, and my dog used to love it when the farrier came to take care of the horses' feet, cuz he used to love to eat the parts of the hooves that the farrier cut off. He liked this better than a good soup bone and a hell of a lot better than Alpo.

I'm not sure why it's called "half" anagrams. I guess because the first half of the word or phrase is spelled with the same letters as the second half, which is cool on "demo mode" and even on the one-word anagrams like "teammate" and "horseshoer", but it's kinda clumsy on "legal age", which doesn't break down into two equal halves like the other themed entries.

That minor quibble aside, this was an enjoyable Monday puzzle. You can tell it's a Monday because the themed entries are all normal words or phrases, clued in a straightforward way. If it was later in the week, instead of "reappear" we might get "Bosc copycat" as a clue leading to "pear aper" or (instead of teammate) "blah beef" for "tame meat." And keeping the "legal age"'s lopsidedness, we could instead do "distaff national symbol" for "eagle gal".

By the way, as I was looking for some of those interesting connections where two related (but not themed) entries cross, like Rex Parker is so good on unearthing, I found (see highlighted area on the puzzle) the words "auto" and "pain" side-by-side, albeit on a word-search-type diagonal line. It might be interesting if they crossed the word "Yugo" or "breakdown" but as it is, I guess it's just one of those things.

Other entries of interest:

63A: Emilio's "Repo Man" role (OTTO) fits the half-anagram theme, and 20A: Per normal procedures (ASUSUAL) almost does, if not for that L poking his nose into it.

14A: Jam ingredient? (AUTO) Oddly enough, this time the word "auto" is across, not diagonal.

5D: Heir intake? (ESTATE)
6D: Sheet metal (FOIL)
7D: Roomy place (INN)
Nothing to write home about maybe, but it was cool to see three question-marked clues in a row on a Monday.

19A: WW1 espionage name (HARI) Mata Hari will live forever in crosswords, but if all you know about her is that she was a spy, well then, everything you know is wrong. She was born Margaretha Geertruida Zelle (and if she'd kept that name she'd probably never have shown up in a single crossword puzzle ever) in Leeuwarden, Holland. She invented the whole Mata Hari (Malayan for Sun) persona, claimed to be from the mysterious land of Java, raised by temple priests, et cetera. None of it was true, of course, and neither were any of the espionage charges pressed against her. Her prosecutor, AndrĂ© Mornet, stated without apology in an interview forty years later: “There wasn't enough evidence to whip a cat.” And a German general concluded: “Innumerable tall tales were concocted about the German secret service … like the one about the unfortunate Mata Hari, who, in reality, did absolutely nothing for the German espionage effort.” (From the book "An Underground Education" by Richard Zacks; read the entire article here.) She just happened to be in the wrong place at the time when France needed a scapegoat. She was executed by firing squad -- she refused the blindfold -- in 1917. I understand she's always going to be around, and I'm fine with that, but can we please stop besmirching the poor woman's reputation? She was a fascinating woman and she had morals that shocked the French who are notoriously lenient in that department, but she wasn't a spy.

Hey, I think I may have discovered my crossword crusade. I'm going to rehabilitate her reputation. So till tomorrow's puzzle, remember "Don't be mean to Mata."


mellocat said...

Love the kitty pic! And you've inspired me to go read up on Mata Hari...

Rex Parker said...

Love the pinball game pic.

Thought the theme was great, actually, esp DEMO MODE.

Linda G said...

This is the second time in the last few days that I stared at the word AUTO, albeit with a missing letter or two, and didn't see the word! In the earlier puzzle, I had A--O (clued as DeSoto or LaSalle), and today I had -UTO for 14A. What is up with this mental block?

Norrin2 said...

Linda, just turn that mental block into an engine block.