Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Themeless Thursday

This one will probably end up being short and sweetish. No, I don't have the mysterious blogger bug that felled Rex and Linda G., thank goodness, I've just got a lot on my plate right now. Still, this was a fun Themeless Thursday puzzle from Jeffrey Harris, and we'll talk more about it right after the ever-popular 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 puzzles check this out. Or if you're ready to decide for yourself you can download this puzzle and join in on the fun here.

I looked to see if there was a mini-theme or even a micro-theme, but I don't see one, so let's get right to the entries of interest.

21A: See 22-Across and 22A: With 21-Across, Maltese, e.g. (LAP DOG) In general I think crossword constructors' (and some solvers') obsession with symmetry is way overdone. Yeah, you need guidelines but I would gladly sacrifice a little symmetry to get in a great answer or avoid a crappy one like ERA or EMU or another ANODE. That said, I do believe that if you have a two-part answer like this, the first part of the answer has to come first and the last part last. Here we have LAP at 22A and DOG UPstairs at 21A. It just makes the puzzle feel lopsided. If that makes me a symmetry wonk or a nitpicker, then so be it.

53A: Data representation expert? (SPINER) Now that was a tough one, and I am a big fan of "Star Trek: The Next Generation". Brent Spiner played the android Data on that show as well as his evil "brother" Lore.

1D: Magpie of cartoons (HECKLE) As far as I know, the only cartoon magpies and Heckle and Jeckle, a couple of smart asses in the Bugs Bunny mold. Their names, by the way, were inspired by Robert Louis Stevenson's "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Heckle" -- I mean "Hyde."

12D: Animal that's tired right before dying? (ROADKILL) That's funny, right there. A little gross, I guess, but funny nevertheless.

6D: It's symbolized by an H (ENTHALPY)
I confess I did not and do not know what enthalpy is and I wasn't sure about the crossing 19A: Cherry-flavored brandy (brandy being one of the few alcoholic beverages I care not for). I had to guess.

52D: Root used in dyeing (BEET). The number of books that have changed my life is a small number, I guess. I've loved a lot of them, but life-changing, only a handful -- "The Bhagavad-Gita" "David Copperfield" "White Apples" "Searching for Caleb" and "Jitterbug Perfume" by Tom Robbins. This last one maybe didn't change my life in a big way but it got me to like beets, whereas before "Jitterbug" I couldn't stand them. If you've read the novel, maybe you'll understand why. If you haven't, well, beets are one of the things you have to eat if you want to live forever -- and they are delicious in salads.


campesite said...

Greetings! I've been enjoying your blog for quite some time now so I thought I'd drop you a note. I was surprised with a 15-letter JOHNNY KNOXVILLE in the center position there wasn't some theme (and also as I was noticing a few Africa-based answers).
I'm not sure it's Kosher to refer to other posts, but I have two quick comments. Yesterday's Sun was, to me, quite cool with its out of the grid solution, and I knew nothing about Steve Goodman. I'm astounded that his ashes are buried under home plate at Wrigley. Must have been one cool guy.
Keep up the good work.

Norrin2 said...

Thanks,Campesite, I appreciate the encouragement.
No rules around here, you can refer to anything you like. Steve Goodman was a cool guy. "A Dying Cub Fan's Last Request" is definitely worth the download and there's a video of him doing it at Wrigley on YouTube.