Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Themeless? I don't think so.

This "Themeless" Thursday puzzle is by David J. Kahn. I put "Themeless" in quotes because I think it has a theme. Not only that, I think it has at least a couple of sub-themes.

What am I talking about? Find out right after the 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 fun and challenging 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

This puzzle has two 15-letter entries spanning the entire length and width and breadth of the puzzle. 8D: 2002 Woody Allen movie (HOLLYWOOOD ENDING) and 32A: Last-second upset victory, say (STORYBOOK FINISH). Do you not see some similarities between a Hollywood ending and a storybook finish? Don't they both imply a feeling of happily-ever-after at the conclusion of a story or an event? Do you not think that maybe happily-ever-after is the theme of this puzzle?

But I said there were sub-themes too, didn't I? How about girls-whose-names-sound-like-meadow-synonyms-wearing-flowers-around-their-necks?

48D: Anakin's daughter (LEIA)

20A: Gifts for malihinis(LEIS)
(A malihini, of course, is a visitor to Hawaii)

45A: Rachel's older sister (LEAH) My friend Rex is on record as having stated that most crossword puzzle solvers are atheists. Not sure how he arrived at this conclusion, but if it's true, then crosswords must be nigh impossible for your typical solver. In this not-atypical puzzle, we have, besides Rachel and Leah, (whose story is told in Genesis 29-35) references to Hinduism 12D: Hindu princess (MAHARANI) and Zen 35D: Zen question (KOAN) and Taoism 48A: Zhou dynasty philosopher (LAO TSE) as well as every church everywhere 34D: Pedal pusher? (ORGANIST)

If we expanded the theme to four-letter-words starting with L, we could also include 23A: Zodiac animal (LION)

Want another subtheme? All right how about nudity and erotica?
What do I mean?

I mean 40D: Page from old pinup magazines (BETTIE) Bettie page was an unlikely sex symbol -- graduate of Peabody College in Nashville Tennessee, blonde in the age of Marilyn and Jayne -- but something about her bangs and that look of sexy innocence she always showed the camera made her the pinup queen of the 1950s and Playboy Magazine's Miss January 1955. She disappeared in the late 50s when she became born again and attempted to become a missionary. Her popularity was revived in the early 80s and she was the subject of a 2005 movie The Notorious Bettie Page.

29D: "The Kiss" painter (KLIMT) It's h
anging on my bedroom and has been there ever since Kim and I got married.

25D: Responds to "Bottoms up!" (MOONS) This one probably belonged in yesterday's
"ass" puzzle.

Of the truly nonthemed entries I liked these:

2D: Kiddie lit housekeeper Bedelia who's not good with idioms (AMELIA) For a while my youngest daughter just devoured the Amelia Bedelia books. Amelia had absolutely no understanding of idioms -- If you told here to dress the turkey she's put a suit on it. I always empathized with Amelia because I can be a little too literal myself sometimes.

1D: Oft-toasted toroids (BAGELS) I love a good garlic bagel but I've never heard them called toroids before. I don't even know what toroid means. After looking it up on I still don't. I mean
"a ring-shaped surface generated by rotating a circle around an axis that does not intersect the circle"?? I'm not a math major; can I just get mine with veggie cream cheese ?

25A: Marion Ross TV role, briefly (MRSC). For those of you who've never seen the TV show "Happy Days" Ms. Ross played Mrs. Cunningham -- or "Mrs. C' as Fonzie called her. This amused me because it looks like MR SC (Mister South Carolina) and I think that amused because I'm getting tired and silly. I'd better sign off.


Matt M. said...

In keeping with your erotic subtheme, here's a kinky toroid.

Norrin2 said...

Whoa, I don't think that thing will even hold cream cheese.

Pete M said...

From the NYS Spec Page (on

"The Themeless Thursday should be quite a challenge for an intermediate solver and a mild workout for an expert solver. "Mini-themes" (two symmetrically placed theme entries that have something in common like CRIMSON TIDE and RUBY TUESDAY) are welcome. They are a bonus to the solvers who notices them, but won't help solvers, since once the two entries are noticed, there is no third entry that can be deduced. If the puzzle has a mini-theme, the grid entries will be given more leeway."

So, there you have it.

Orange said...

My religious and biblical knowledge comes largely from two sources: Seeing Jesus Christ Superstar once in college (I may or may not have been inebriated at the time) and doing crosswords. all those four-letter Bible characters—I know them by their crossword clues.