Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Thursday Sun

You'll just have to put up with my handwriting today. This is one of those puzzles where there's more than one letter in some squares, and the Across Lite software, as good as it is, just can't handle that. I think the puzzle loses a lot of its elegance, when at the end you've got (for example) FRENCHRNS (at 10D) instead of the correct and interesting looking pencil version. Sometimes it even changes the meaning of an entry. 49A in Across Lite is HASHUSE (instead of Hash House) and that looks like it refers to drug indulgence rather than eating.

One of my favorite books about Crosswording is Matt Gaffney's Gridlock, a fascinating look at how crosswords are constructed. In one chapter though he talks about how crosswords are getting to the point where they might be played out, all the good themes have been used many many times, et cetera. I don't feel this way, especially when the Sun keeps coming out with great puzzle after great puzzle. Waterlogged is by Alan Olschwang, and don't let the title fool you; it is definitely not all wet.

All the theme entries contain H2O, i.e. two H's and an O. Specifically:

20A: Detectives (SLEUTHHOUNDS) not really a common term for detectives, it's not on Dictionary.com and Wikipedia redirects to bloodhound. Just plain "sleuth" is more common.

49A: Unlikely spot for a gastronome (HASHHOUSE) If you like H's, this is probably one of your favorite phrases.

60A: Province of the Netherlands (SOUTHHOLLAND)

47D: Oscar-winning song of 1959 (HIGHHOPES) This is from the Frank Capra film "A Hole in the Head," which is probably the film all H lovers go see after having dinner at the hash house. Besides the song, it's also notable as one of the few films where Frank Sinatra played a likable character.
10D: The wolf in "Peter and the Wolf" (FRENCHHORNS)

5D: Gaffs, e.g. (FISHHOOKS) I found this one to be pretty tricky and no wonder. Wikipedia has 9 different definitions for this word, some of which definitely would not pass the Sunday breakfast table test. My favorite: a term used to describe an especially low level of motivation in the workplace. To denote a somewhat purposeful waste of time: "I didn't do anything at work today but sit in my cube and gaff off"

My favorites among the non-watery clues:

16A: With 12-Down, ring in the morning? (FROOT LOOP). Just like Peter Gordon was no doubt hoping, I was thinking alarm clock, traffic circle, not Toucan Sam's favorite breakfast cereal. My oldest son, who is no ornithologist, but is pretty smart nevertheless, once asked me, "What kind of bird is Toucan Sam?" He still hasn't quite lived that one down yet. (For the record, Toucan Sam is a toucan.)

1A: Bunker Hill General (HOWE)
a nice change of pace from the usual "Inventor Elias."

14A: One of the girls on "The Waltons" (ERIN)
fortunately the only one I remember.

39A: Fanciful snowmen: (YETIS)
What a difference a word makes, had it been "legendary snowmen" I'd have gotten it right off. "Fanciful" sent me off after some of those great snowmen Calvin (of Calvin and Hobbes) used to make.

33D: Peel's partner (STEED)
. Probably because I hate licking envelopes, I went to "peel and STICK" rather than to Mrs. Peel's avenging partner John Steed.

29A: Will-call acquisition: Abbr. (TKT) I had TIX for a long time, didn't pay enough attention to the singular clue.

27A: Exclamation of disgu
st: (PAH) I knew it ended in H, and thought it had to be UGH, until 27D: College Major, for short (PSYCH) started looking really scary.

And that's the penultimate Sun puzzle this week. I guess you know what that makes Friday.


Orange said...

Actually, Across Lite has an easy way to enter multiple letters. Click the "escape" button to summon up a box in which you type the HHO (or whatever the rebus is) and hit "enter." Voila! Small letters show up in that square. You can enter more than three letters, but three is generally the limit of what will display well.

Norrin2 said...

That's good to know, Orange, but I can't get it to work. Maybe I'm confused about the "escape button"

Howard B said...

I think you can select a different key for it as well - I use 'Insert', and can't remember if that's by design or if I set it up that way at some point in the options.

Either way, in this particular puzzle, Across Lite accepted either an H or 'H20', but not 'HHO' as correct, even though that string actually fit the answers. But the multiple letter entry does sometimes look nicer, and I like having the option to enter rebuses (somewhat) as intended.

Ultra Vi said...


Um...er...last week was my first week trying the Sun puzzles, and I only managed to get through Thursday. Tell me, are the end-of-week puzzles harder, generally, than the NYTimes puzzles?

As it is Monday, I will try again and maybe save the Weekend Warrior for my trip to the midwest this later this week.