Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Hell yeah

Well, after I made mistakes in two of this week's first three puzzles -- even accused the Sun of a misprint yesterday, I thought long and hard about checking my answers from now on before I post the grid, but I decided against it. When I started crossword blogging I said I wanted to be honest about it and tell you what I missed, and every writer knows it's better to show than to tell. So I'll leave my mistakes out there for all to see.

I don't think I made any mistakes today. (1130 update: That's what I get for thinking -- 8A should be ARRIBA not ARTIBA. You'd think with all the Speedy Gonzales cartoons I've seen I'd know that one. Thanks to Elayne S for pointing this one out.) It's a Themeless Thursday by Byron Walden, so you know going in it's going to be tricky. Just how tricky we'll examine right after this 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. If you'd like to read about an unbiased head-to-head competition between the Sun and the Times check this out. Or if you're ready to decide for yourself you can download this puzzle and join in on the fun here.

This puzzle is anchored by the two long entries 36A: When you might get in after having a 15-D own (SOME UNGODLY HOUR) and 15D: See 36-Across (A DEVIL OF A GOOD TIME). So I guess the mini-theme is hell-ish or unholy terms related to having fun. Cool, even though the interconnectedness made the puzzle just a little bit easier to crack.

Other entries of interest:

16A: Shoe that's thrown to make a point (LEANER) Very clever clueing. It feels a little off though, since in horseshoes a leaner is not technically thrown, it becomes a leaner after it's thrown (if you're lucky). Not off enough for a full-fledged quibble, however.

18A: Golf partner? So, I'm trying to think of expressions like "Golf and ___" or "____ and golf" cuz that's usually what those partner clues refer to. Here it's about cars made by Volkswagen. (PASSAT)

23A: Polycrates, for example
I'd never heard of the Tyrant of Samos, so I tried to break the word down -- "poly" of course means many, "crates" means baskets, so that was no help (TYRANT)

47A: Muppet Drummer (ANIMAL) I hadn't thought about it before, but anyone who's seen "Spinal Tap" or paid attention to rock and roll history knows how difficult it is to keep your drummer alive and with the band, so it's kind of amazing that one of the all-time rock and roll animals (so to speak) is still banging on the skins with the Muppet band.

51A: Savage of pulp fiction There were plenty of savages in pulp fiction -- Tarzan of the Apes and Conan the Barbarian, to name just two -- but only one of them was actually christened with the name Savage -- the Man of Bronze AKA the King of Torn Shirts (DOC)

52A: Garam masala component (CUMIN)
I had absolutely no idea what garam masala might be (turns out it's a collection of spices popular in Indian cuisine) and I was hampered in my efforts to figure out what it might be by the fact that I had SCORNS at 43D: Rebuffs instead of SPURNS and DIGITAL at 29D: Canon PowerShot, e.g. instead of DIGICAM. So for a long time I thought a component of garam masala might be COLON. (Of course that meant I also had CAT at 46A: Word that's a synonym of its reversal and I finally realized that PAT made more sense there -- and SCALLOP made a heck of a lot more sense than STALLOP at 43A: Coquilles St. Jacques ingredient.

57A: He cowrote "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire" (TORME).
I learned this from watching the old TV show "Night Court". Judge Harry Stone was a huge fan of Mel Torme. He's not my favorite singer but "The Velvet Fog" is definitely my favorite singer nickname.

62A: Oil bases (Easels) Also water color bases, pastel bases, et cetera.

12D: "Mame" Tony winner (BEA ARTHUR). I love "The Golden Girls" I mean I really love "The Golden Girls." I have Bea Arthur's autograph and Betty White's and Rue McClanahan's. What I don't have is Estelle Getty's, and I'm not likely to get it since I understand she's quite ill and no longer signs. One of the (many) frustrations of being an autograph collector.

31D: It was dubbed "The Eighth Wonder of the World." (ASTRODOME). Nobody thinks that any more. When I think of the Astrodome, I think about the fact that they didn't think about how the grass was going to die, since it couldn't get sunlight in a domed stadium and the Astros had to cover the ground with something else -- hence the development of Astroturf.

I also liked having two very different stocking stuffers (COAL and TOE) at 52 and 56 Down, and getting a chance to see my favorite pitching coach LEO Mazzone at 58 Down.


Orange said...

Channa masala is chickpeas in a delicious curry sauce. My all-time favorite Indian entree, definitely. Mississippi Masala is a good movie from the '80s or early '90s directed by Mira Nair, starring Denzel Washington and a lovely Indian(-American?) actress whose name I've forgotten—the story centered on the forbidden love between them, with her family wanting her to stick with Indian men.

Never heard of DOC Savage—thanks for the fabulous illustration!

Norrin2 said...

I saw "Mississippi Masala." But I don't remember much about it now other than I liked it.

As for Doc Savage, the cover illustrations are much better than the stories themselves.