Monday, April 30, 2007

Wednesday New York Sun Puzzle

SPOILER WARNING: Don't read any further until you've done today's New York Sun Crossword Puzzle. New York Sun puzzles are every bit as good as the more well-known New York Times, and they're indisputably better in one way -- they're free. You can download this puzzle and join in on the fun here.

"Galoshes" by Raymond Hamel. One of the things I really like about the Sun puzzles is that they give each and every one of them a name. The NY Times only deems their Sunday puzzle worthy of a title. The thing about these titles is that they tell you something about the theme -- or would if you could figure out what the title means before you've completely finished the puzzle. Either way it adds yet another dimension of solving enjoyment.

Are you ready? Let's get started. Stop me when you've figured out the theme.

21A: Waterfowl hunters purchase (DUCKSTAMP)
25A: Uses an air pressure gauge, perhaps (CHECKSTIRES)
44A: Companion of giblets, sometimes (CHICKENNECKS)
52A: "Dumb Dora was so dumb. . ." show (MATCHGAME)

You know they are the theme entries, but what the heck do they have in common? Chickens and ducks are both birds, but what about necks and stamps and tires and game shows? If you're one of those solvers who completes a puzzle in order from northwest to southeast rather than skipping around to clues that you know, you might not get the theme until you fill in the very last across entry 67A: Word that can precede both words (in each themed entry) (RUBBER) (That's almost how it happened for me, I did get 67 A before I got 44A, because I misread the clue as I'm apt to do if I go too fast and I was searching for a sometimes companion of "goblets" not "giblets.")

Cool puzzle, huh? Rubber duck, rubber stamp, rubber check, rubber tires, rubber chicken, rubberneck, rubber match, rubber game. That's a lot of themed entries and combining them into other unrelated (and misleading) phrases like that is sheer genius. And the title might should have been a tipoff sooner to me. I remember in high school I was in the play "Our Town" and there was a scene where the young hero goes to visit his girlfriend and his mother tells him it's raining and "Don't forget your rubbers." Well, high schoolers being high schoolers none of the actors could ever get through that scene without cracking up, and "rubbers" was changed to "galoshes."

Now that I think about it, "rubber game" and "rubber match" are almost exactly the same thing, but because Raymond Hamel was able to conjure up fond memories in me of turning on the "Star-Studded Big Money Match Game '75" when I got home from school and giggling along with C-list celebrities over talk of boobies and making whoopee, I'm going to let it slide. (By the way, many of the double entendre-containing questions on Match Game were penned by Mad Magazine's Dick DeBartolo.)

Other entries of interest:

1A: Members of the Black Knights (CADETS) the sports teams at the United States Military Academy (West Point) are known as the Black Knights, and have been for many years, although a black knight was only chosen as the mascot in 2000. Prior to that their mascot was a mule. Why a mule? Well, before the 1899 Army-Navy football game neither team had a mascot. Then Navy showed up with a mascot -- though not much of one, it was a mangy old goat, but Army didn't want to be shown up so they borrowed a mule off a passing ice truck and he was so popular he stuck around as the mascot for the entire 20th century.

1D: With 21-Down, violent overthrow of a government (COUP) I actually have a bit of a quibble with this one. Although coup d'etat literally means a sudden blow to a state, not all of them are violent.

15A: Lady ____ Hillcrest (character in "The Mystery of Irma Vep) (ENID) Usually clued as the city in Oklahoma.

51A: Birch of "Ghost World" (THORA) One of those rare instances when the movie was better than the book. And the character that Thora Birch plays was named Enid, so 15A could have been clued that way too.

64A: Activity at a chopping center? (KARATE) Corny, yeah, but it made me chuckle.

12D: Werewolves have hairy ones (PALMS) This doesn't narrow it down much, werewolves have hairy everythings. The threat of hair growing out of your palms was how parents in the old days used to try to scare their kids into not practicing self-abuse. (Although if you did have hairy palms you'd probably never see it, because that particular vice was also said to make you go blind.)

13D: Country straddling two continents (EGYPT) Turkey is another country that this is true of.

Oh, and check out 25, 32, 33 and 40 Across all right there together in the (mostly) center portion of the puzzle. If you don't CHECK your TIRES you could have a MISHAP (Fender bender, say) with a POTHOLE (It's hard on struts) and have to call for a tow from AAA (Battery label).

1 comment:

Linda G said...

I've gotten lax in my Sun solving. I'd better straighten up and fly right -- I promised Orange I'd do the Sun and NYT when I guest blog next week.

It's been a long day. I think I'll fix a cup of tea and put my feet up.