Monday, July 30, 2007

Turn and face the strange changes!

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.

What Randall J. Hartman has done with "Ch-Ch-Changes" (and if that doesn't put a David Bowie song in your head, you and I have very different musical tastes) is put a "CH" in front of AND behind four common phrases. I really liked this puzzle. Some of the new phrases might sound awkward, and he's all over the map with the stuff he started with -- everything from body parts to Taiwanese directors, from vehicles to bad movies based on unfunny "Saturday Night Live" sketches. But who knew there were that many phrases you could stick CH's on fore and aft and have them make sense?

What am I talking about?

17A: Preside over the Cardinal's ballpark? (CHAIR BUSCH) The St. Louis Cardinals play their home games at Busch stadium.

27A: Merit Badge for paying off debts? (CHITS PATCH) Probably my favorite of the themed entries. Boy Scouts are supposed to be "thrifty, brave, clean and reverent" but I don't remember them teaching us much about financial management. Maybe they should have. (But "It's Pat"? worst movie ever made. Worst recurrent SNL character. Did anybody ever think that was amusing?)

48A: One who sponges off Eng's twin? (CHANG LEECH) Chang and Eng Bunker are the world's most famous Siamese twins -- born in Siam (now Thailand) which is where the term came from. And Lee directed "Sense and Sensibility"; "Brokeback Mountain" and several other movies all a thousand times better than "It's Pat!"

66A: Singles bar come-on? (CHARM PITCH) Although it seems to me that most singles bar come-ons lack charm.

Other entries of interest:

1A: Stick up at sea? (MAST) One thing I appreciate about crossword puzzles is they force me to slow down and pay attention -- while trying to solve as fast as possible which makes things interesting. Notice the lack of a hyphen. Stick-up at sea would be piracy. But a stick heading in an upward direction is a mast. And I guess this is as good a time as any to mention one of my pet peeves -- people who say the flag is at "half-mast". Unh-uh! Unless you're on a ship, it's at half-staff.

(We now return you to your regularly scheduled crossword blog already in progress)

14A: What you might do while dropping acid (ETCH) Yeah, I grew up in the 70's. I was thinking TRIP.

19A: Panty ____ (college prank) (RAID) Man, I was born too late. I never got to go on a panty raid. How do those things work, anyway? You steal underwear out of co-eds' drawers? I mean, surely you don't rip them off their body, that's a crime not a prank. (Come to think of it, stealing underwear is a crime, but you know what I mean.)

42A: King, in Latin (REX) He's also the king in Crossworld.

47A: "Sweeney ____" (TODD) I got this right off even though I had no idea who Sweeney Todd was. According to Wikipedia he's a fictional barber and serial-killer, and has been the subject of so many plays, movies and musicals, it's kind of miraculous I've been able to avoid him.

11D: Enjoy New York, say (READ) That's New York Magazine, of course. Here's an interesting article from New York Magazine about puzzlemaster Will Shortz.

37D: Rocker nicknamed "The Motor City Madman" (TED NUGENT) In case, you haven't already gathered it, I tend to take music pretty seriously. When I was in high school I broke up with a girlfriend because she pronounced Ted's last name as "nugget." I just didn't feel the same about her anymore. And I didn't even like Ted Nugent that much.

That's all for today.

Hey, look, I remembered to upload the grid:


Pete M said...

I remember the Pat character from SNL, yet I still couldn't make sense of the ITSPAT in the theme entry. I think there will be much head-scratching on this one.

One of the funniest (and least charming) pick-up lines I've heard: "Can I buy you a drink, or do you just want the money?" :)

Norrin2 said...

That pick-up line is so bad it should have been in that NY Times Sunday puzzle from a couple weeks back.

Austin said...

I had no idea what a "CHIT" was but it was the only thing that I could think of to fit that clue.

The It's Pat! sketches may not have been good, but I liked the little theme song: "It's time for androgyny!"

Loved loved loved seeing YOMAMA in the grid. Now if only they'll fit in OHNOYOUDIINT one of these days.

I also put TRIP in at 14A at first. Don't feel too bad.

Good puzzle. I liked it. The only thing I missed was HORSE at 28D. Couldn't get it for the life of me and I even had the HO__E. Ah well, tomorrow is another day.

JP said...

This puzzle just annoyed me. I like the concept of adding the CH--CH, but even when I got the answers I had no idea what I was looking at in the middle of the clue. IT'S PAT? Seriously? What relevance is the title of a movie bomb from 15 years ago to anything else in the puzzle? Would have much preferred the middle of the theme answers to be related in some even tenuous way.

But yeah, YO MAMA was great.

Linda G said...

I'd never heard of It's Pat, but I was able to get it from the crosses. Apparently some didn't like that answer, but look at the great crosses it produced...Irene, toxic, Athens, opal, throw a fit, Tito. That more than makes up for it, IMOO.

Orange said...

The core of the "It's Pat" sketches is solid. People whose gender identity is unidentifiable are intriguing.

Julia Sweeney's far better as herself. If you've never seen it, rent her one-woman show, God Said Ha! It's about cancer and dealing with nutty parents and finding your own space and love and finding black humor in life's travails. By turns moving and hilarious.

What about pants—can pants be at half-mast when they're down at knee level?

"Ted Nugget"? Heh.

Norrin2 said...

Austin, you're right -- tomorrow is another day with another interesting Sun puzzle.
JP, I'm with you. I wish the middle of the theme answers had something in common, but I can also see where it's hard to find phrases that you can CH- and -CH.
Linda, I envy you. I wish I'd never heard of "It's Pat!"
Orange, I think pants worn that low are referred to as "half-calf."

Orange said...

Hey, Ma Nugent's stone memorial was just unveiled. Be sure to click the "photos" link in the article to see the sandblasted rock depicting Ma Nugent.

Norrin2 said...

Cool. Congratulations to Ma and the entire Nugget family.