Thursday, May 10, 2007


Weekend Warrior by Patrick Berry. This is the last puzzle before the Sun-less weekend, so try to make this SPOILER WARNING last:

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.

Great themeless Friday puzzle with everything from mythological monsters (8D: SEASERPENT) to Biblical moms (48A: Mother of Ishmael (HAGAR), stars in the night sky (POLARIS) and stars on the silver screen (ECKHART) as well as your requisite summertime baseball clue 7D: Doubling makes it go up: Abbr (AVG) and everybody's favorite butterlike blob clued creatively 54A: Edible emulsion (OLEO)

Some more things I found remarkable: 14A: Awaken (COMEALIVE) I can’t hear these two words without remembering the jingle “Come Alive, You’re in the Pepsi Generation” which was all over TV and radio when I was a lad. There’s an urban legend that sales of Pepsi plummeted in China during this ad campaign because it was translated as “Pepsi makes your ancestors come up out of the ground.” (You know I wouldn’t pass on an urban legend without checking it out at first – and neither should you -- but the good folks at Snopes can neither confirm nor deny this one, I think there’s some fire under all this smoke.) You can see a vintage “Come Alive!” Pepsi commercial here. But be careful, you might not be able to get that jingle out of your head. I've been trying since 1966.

1D: Mrs. Weston's portrayer in 1996's "Emma" (SCACCHI) I love Jane Austen and enjoyed this adaptation very much, but I never thought I'd need to tuck the name of Great Scacchi into my mental crossword file. Too many consonants, too many C's. C is my least favorite letter, not so much in crosswords but in Scrabble, where it's usually impossible to build off of.

17A: Legendary birthplace of Romulus and Remus (ALBALONGA) Romulus and Remus were twins, heirs to the throne of Alba Longa, but condemned as babies to die by their no-good Uncle Amulius. The servant who was supposed to carry out the sentence couldn’t bring herself to do it, however, and laid them in a cradle on the Tiber river. Kinda like Moses. Although I don’t think Moses was nursed by a wolf and fed by a woodpecker like these two boys. You would think that siblings who had endured such a harsh childhood together would have a stronger bond than most, but eventually Romulus slew Remus when they got into an argument about where to put the fences around the new city they were building – and I guess that’s why the city they were building became known as Rome and not Reme.

49A: What someone who gets lucky at a party might end up with
(DOORPRIZE) Simple and straightforward enough, but I had a tough time
with this one. I think constructors know we have dirty minds and when
they say "get lucky" it goes straight in the gutter and we're thinking
of all kinds of swinging parties.

Or is it just me?

39A: You can't do them if you're missing your cue (TRICKSHOTS) Maybe
because I've spent more time playing billiards than treading the
boards, this one didn't throw me off at all. But I still can't do
trick shots even when I have my cue.

Now, this is the kind of thing that gets me. 38D: ______ Choice
(TASTERS) ______ Choice could be just about anything, and because it's
seven letters my mind leaps to Hobson's Choice meaning no choice at
all from stable manager Thomas Hobson who told his customers they
could have any horse they wanted as long as it was the one closest to the
door, which does come up on occasion in crosswords. It didn't take
long to see that it was not going to work, but my mind was still locked
into it enough so that I don't have mental room for anything else.

19A: Mediterranean merchant vessel (CARRACK) Carracks are three or
four masted ships with round sterns, roomy enough to carry provisions
for long voyages. The most famous Carrack was probably Christopher
Columbus's flagship, the Santa Maria.

On a personal note, this concludes my fifth week of New York Sun Crossword blogging, and it's interesting to me to see how it's evolved in just that short a time. I started doing it because I really enjoyed Rex Parker Does The New York Times Crossword Puzzle and I wanted to do something similar for the New York Sun because I think their puzzles are as good as, and often better, than the New York Times, and I wanted more people to know about them. I thought it would be fun, and it is. I didn't think it would be as time-consuming as it is, but that's all right, mostly I'm stealing time away from work not family and friends and fantasy baseball. Blogging has changed the way I do crosswords -- at least the Sun. I still time myself occasionally, but mostly I'm thinking as I solve, "Hmm, carrack, I'm going to have learn more about that, I've seen that word before but I'm not sure exactly what it is," or "Alba Longa, where the heck is that?" And now I look them up, whereas before I would just put the puzzle aside and the next time I came across a carrack I still wouldn't know exactly what it was. I read somewhere that we remember 10% of what we read, 20% of what we hear and 30% of what we see, but we retain 70% of what we teach. So hopefully this will make me and you better crossword solvers. And hopefully we'll be entertained along the way. I want to thank everybody who has stopped in at this site, whether it was just once or on a regular basis, whether you lurked or made a comment. I appreciate you and I hope to see you on Monday, when the Sun comes up.


Rex Parker said...

Thank you so much for the story (apocryphal or no) about the Pepsi ad campaign in China, which had me laughing out loud. That's a keeper.

Also, thanks for the crazy 19th-century-looking illustration of R&R's birth-mom, looking all Little Red Riding Hood. Very amusing.


Howard B said...

Yeah, the Sun puzzle gets overlooked a bit, but the later-week ones are especially a tougher solve than the NY Times, albeit in a slightly different style. Whether that's good or bad is up to each individual's taste, but I do enjoy the frustration factor - it's good to know others out there appreciate it and comment on it, especially when others are stuck in the same places I am ;).

Oh, and that Pepsi urban legend? I'm skeptical - only Mountain Dew can bring your ancestors out of the ground; there's just not enough caffeine in Pepsi to do the trick ;). Besides, Mountain Dew has that mysterious radioactive green glow to it...

G'night, and have a great weekend.