Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Thursday, July 12 - Karen M. Tracey

First, a few words from the owner:
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.

Howard B here. Thanks for letting me crash for a little while. I'm in the process of moving out, watching my place steadily become more and more inundated with boxes. So what do I choose to do when I need to take a break from packing for a few minutes? Of course, do tonight's puzzle, which is chock full of... say it with me.... boxes! Arrrgh!!!

Woohoo! Themeless Thursday is upon us. Today we get to play with one of the Scrabbly masters of the themeless, Karen Tracey. It's a sure bet that somewhere in her puzzles, you're going to get to pick from the following menu:

  • Surf & Turf - Name of a geographical location with a Scrabbly sauce (AQABA). If you're allergic to the sauce, there's ABILENE here too.
  • Chef's Special - An interesting and somewhat obscure word, also with the chef's Scrabbly sauce (CZARDAS, 8-A). Arguably the toughest word in the puzzle.
    What's a Czardas?(it's singular, by the way) Apparently it's the national dance of Hungary. My favorite line from the Wiki article?
    "Its origins can be traced back to the 18th century Hungarian verbunkos, used as a recruiting dance by the Hungarian army". A recruiting dance? Wow, learn something new every day.
  • Dessert of the Day - assortment of fresh words, names and terms, some with really screwy combinations of letters mixed into the dough (ESPNEWS, SIXPM, ZIPPIEST, singers Kiri TE KANAWA and Lee Ann WOMACK). This is not exactly an OLD SCHOOL(32-A) puzzle.
All dishes served with an extra side of Peter Gordon's cluing.
And just for the heck of it, Ms. Tracey electrifies the puzzle a bit more by dropping NIKOLA TESLA right down the center of the whole thing.

Tricky clues:
Current in spot? (ANODE) Sneaky clue for a more common answer... wish I could have asked Mr. Tesla for help.
1800 (SIXPM) Fairly straightforward, and yet stumped me quite a bit. (1800 = 6PM on a 24-hour clock). My mind insisted that this was a year at first.

Even more tricky stuff:
Auto-da-fé victim (HERETIC) The only time I've seen the word "Auto-da-fé" was reading Candide back in college... it's a term for the act of publicly sentencing and/or punishing religious dissenters. Often associated with burning at the stake. Personally, I'd rather s'mores than HERETICs, but that's just me. Real tough term in the clue, which the solver needs to know to get this one, or else depend on a ton of crossings. Ouch.

Disorderly places (RATS NESTS) Ick again. Let's move on.

Also note that both of the long answers here contain more Scrabblicious goodness -
HAZARDANOPINION - Have heard the phrase 'Hazard a guess', but this works too. I like it.
MEXICAN AMERICANS - clued as 'Chicanos'. Out of curiosity, does anyone use that term anymore? I haven't heard it in any context in a long time. Has it just fallen out of favor, or has it been moved into political incorrectness?

Let your fellow puzzlers know what you thought of this one.


Linda G said...

Good job, Howard. I wouldn't want to trade places with you today...the packing/moving, not the puzzle/blogging. A good diversion, by the way.

This one was tough in several spots, but a great puzzle overall.

Ellen said...

All that talk of boxes. Sounds like something Ken Burns would say.

Howard B said...

If you saw my place right now, you'd go slightly Ken Burns too. Makes me want to move somewhere that has no boxes whatsoever; just spheres, and maybe a giant ball pit instead of couches. Makes the kitchen rather difficult, though.

I did enjoy this puzzle, Linda - Karen's puzzles almost always seem to have an extra fun vibe about them.

mellocat said...

Thanks for taking the time out of the moving madness to blog on the puzzle! I enjoyed reading your write-up. Good luck with the move!

jlsnyc said...

oh, howard -- moving is definitely the 5th circle of hell. at least. you have my sympathies. but also hope yer lookin' forward to bein' in the new digs!

czardas. learned of this from die fledermaus -- which features a famous one. check it out: fledermaus

the czardas has a pretty heavy beat to it, so i was amused that it was connected to "clomp"...

loved the puzzle and the bloggin'!



Orange said...

A recruiting dance! Maybe that's what the U.S. armed forces need to drum up more interest. The whole war business doesn't seem to be drawing many enthusiastic new recruits.

1800 in Roman numerals would be MDCCC, also five letters long.

Howard B said...

Thanks for the responses and support, and jl, for the interesting link. Hopefully once settled, normal insanity will return, along with more time for puzzly stuff.

Orange, I think you may be on to something, but at this point, there's probably been plenty of song and dance in that department ;). Maybe we would be more imposing with a dash of czardas, though. Like the icon, by the way. Congrats on the book!