Thursday, April 05, 2007

Thursday Crossword stuff

Usually on Thursday I take just the NY Times and the NY Sun puzzle with me to the park, cuz getting though those two -- along with one of Amy's Spinach and Feta Pocket Sandwiches and a Diet Pepsi -- will take up my whole lunch hour. But either today's puzzles were easier than usual or those ginkgo biloba tablets are finally starting to kick in, cuz I finished the Times in 6:57 and the Sun in 10:51 and had plenty of time to watch Yankee tourists photograph themselves by the fountain and wish I'd brought another puzzle.
The Times puzzle was one of those punny ones that cracked me up, but my friend Rex Parker can tell you about the Times puzzles better than I can, so I'll concentrate on the Sun.
I had to take a minute before I started solving to appreciate this lovely grid, where all the black squares make up a pair of plus and minus symbols. Evidently there is some controversy in some crossword circles about whether or not crosswords actually have to always be symmetrical, and I actually lean toward relaxing that restriction when necessary, but there's something to be said for a nice symmetrical grid like this, purely aesthetic, yeah, but crossword puzzles are an art, aren't they?

This puzzle was still pretty tricky even after I got 1A: "One of two signs in this puzzle" POSITIVE, and consequently, as a yin-yangy freebie, 61A NEGATIVE.

Some of my favorite clues:
31D: Mad worker, at times: LAMPOONER I actually figured they meant Mad magazine, not disgruntled co-worker, but I was thinking CARTOONER and I'm pretty sure that's not a word.
20A: Lame duck helper: VET You get so used to hearing this as a political phrase, you forget that a maimed mallard might need medical attention.
39A: Like some unwed fathers: PRIESTLY
59A: O. Henry and others IRONISTS. I love this one although it took me forever to figure out, mainly because I had PIG at 56D instead of HOG as was looking for something to fill out I_I_ISTS, once I turned that second I into an O, I got it right away. I loved O. Henry when I was a kid, and even though that style of twist-ending short story is not held in high regard these days, I still love his stuff.
43A: Old Testament book before Esther NEHEMIAH. It was refreshing -- and helpful -- to have this spelled out. It poops up a lot but is usually abbreviated NEH.

Here's some stuff I did not know: I don't think I've ever seen the word Girasols (clue for 2D) before. It's a type of opal but the word looks like it should be an umbrella for a giraffe.
And 37D: Oilman Halliburton is ERLE? Are you kidding me? There's another guy with that first name? Does that mean Perry Mason's creator can finally take a few puzzles off?

EOS, the Greek dawn goddess shows up in both the Times and the Sun puzzles today.
And any puzzle that has both the brilliant American artist Maxfield PARRISH and
the world's worst Wacky Racer Dick DASTARDLY is a good one.

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