Tuesday, August 14, 2007

My 301st post

After yesterday's amazing word search-acrostic-crossword from Patrick Blindauer, this one seemed more like a Tuesday puzzle, with a simple theme based on animal puns.

But first our new and improved SPOILER WARNING (now with 50 per cent more rant!): 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 -- No, you know what, they're better. That's right, I said it, the New York Sun's puzzles are better than the New York Times's puzzles, and I can only imagine how frustrating it must be to be Peter Gordon and to keep putting out this superior product and have everybody just blog, blog, blogging and yak, yak, yakking about the Times, Times, Times. Look, if you don't have time for two great puzzles a day, do the better one, do the SUN -- (we now return you to your regularly scheduled spoiler warning) -- 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.
On to the critter calembours

19A: Animalistic novices (GNU BEES) Puns on the word GNU are nothing new. Here's an old limerick:
A problem occurred at our zoo,
When a baby was born to the gnu.
When they tried to announce it
They couldn't pronounce it,
But of course the new gnu knew.

Gnus are also known as wildebeests, but that's harder to pun on.

23A: Animalistic Glenn Ford romantic comedy of 1964? (DEER HART) A very venisony answer, sinced a hart is also a deer -- specifically, a male red deer at least five years old.

32A: Animalistic salon application? (HARE MOOSE) One of the first gifts I ever bought my wife was a nightshirt with a picture of Bugs Bunny putting moose on his hare -- I mean hair. She's not nearly the big Bugs Bunny fan that I am, but she's still and still wears that nightshirt.

45A: Animalistic reversals? (EWE TERNS)

51A: Animalistic wine? (BOAR DOE)

And where would all these animal pairs go? Maybe in a STABLE (3d: Firm) but more likely in NOAH'S ARK (54A: Biblical refuge). The only other animals I see roaming around this puzzles are at 57A: Creatures in "Them!" (ANTS) and maybe 50A: Termagant (NAG) but there are animal sounds at 13A: Knee-slapper (HOOT) and 53D: Slangy refusal (NAW) -- that's right, gnaw, like a beaver. (Hey, it's no worse than some of the other puns in this puzzle.)
Other entries of interest:
29A: 078-05-1120, on a Woolworth's sample wallet insert: abbr. (SSN) The most misused social security number of all time. A wallet manufacturer wanted to show how well those new-fangled cards would fit in his wallets, he included a sample card with his secretary's number on it. Read more about at it at Social Security's own website.
Lot of poison in today's puzzle: 2D: Toxin in spoiled food (BOTULIN) and 33D: Poisonous salt (ARSENITE) I don't guess PEE (17D: ___ -wee's Big Adventure") is poisonous, but you probably shouldn't drink it.
52A: "Terrible" ruler (IVAN IV) I guess the first three Ivans were sweet.
43A: Follower of Clint as Best Director (ANG) That's Ang Lee, who won the Oscar for "Brokeback Mountain."
28A: Entertainer nicknamed "The Great Dane" (BORGE) Victor Borge was also known as "The Clown Prince of Denmark." He's certainly the funniest concert pianist I ever saw. He used to say things like "I'm going to play it with both hands so it will end faster," and "I'd like to thank my parents for making this night possible. And my children for making it necessary."
That's all for today. Let's do it again on Thursday.


Austin said...

Loved GNUBEES, seriously thought the HART in DEERHART had to be wrong, because I've never heard of it, but couldn't think of anything else that would fit so I left it.

Couldn't get the SE for the life of me. Had MEET for DUEL and STARKS for SLEEKS, so that threw me off. Plus I didn't know if the last theme entry was BOA or BOAR. Ah well, tomorrow will be worse, I'm sure.


Rex Parker said...

The Times vs The Sun question seems a bit lame to me since the best constructors write for both. If the Sun decides to sign an exclusive contract with Patrick Berry or David Quarfoot or whoever - if they develop a stable of writers that The Times can't touch - then we might start seeing substantial differences. I think the Sun is more fun for tournament-going types (like us) because they can be hipper and craftier (than The Times, where being too much of either could alienate a good chunk of a Massive Readership - can The Sun really lose readers? Who reads it?). That said, Shortz made the NYT puzzle more fun and hipper than it had ever been in its history, and The Sun puzzles - the general "new wave" trend in puzzledom in general - wouldn't have gotten the massive push it has were it not for Shortz's tenure at The Times. Until The Sun gets a more massive distribution, or its puzzles are better marketed in the secondary (book) market, The NYT will continue to be the Greatest Puzzle in the Country. The Puzzle of Record. That's just that.

Norrin2 said...

"The puzzle of record"? Did Rex Parker just make a pun? : 0

Look, there's no doubt in my mind that Will Shortz deserves the lion's share of the credit for revitalizing crossword puzzles. I hope nothing I said came across as denigrating either Shortz or the Times puzzles. He's one of my heroes and I love the Times puzzle, do it and enjoy it every day. But I enjoy the Sun puzzle every day too. And most days when I compare the two, I find the Sun to be the better of the two. I know they both use many of the same constructors but since such a high percentage of the clues are rewritten by the editors, a Patrick Berry Times puzzle is going to be noticeably different from a Patrick Berry Sun puzzle.

I guess I was just frustrated that the Sun puzzle is of such a consistently high level of quality and it gets very little attention. I don't think circulation of either paper has much to do with this issue. No, I don't read the Sun. But I don't read the New York Times every day either. You no longer have to buy a newspaper to do a daily crossword puzzle. And maybe the Times massive distribution works against it, because like you say they can't take chances on alienating that audience. They have to play it safe -- or safer than the Sun anyway. I seriously doubt you'd ever see anything like what Patrick Blindauer has been doing with his Sun puzzles in the NYT. Yesterday while the Times had a perfectly serviceable puzzle involving different names for "dumbass" Blindauer was blowing us away by combining the best of crosswords, word searches and acrostics in one puzzle, and I think he and Peter Gordon and the Sun should get more recognition from solvers.
That's all I'm saying.

Orange said...

...And people who don't buy the Sun newspaper should also pay Peter Gordon via the PayPal link on the Puzzle Pointers page where many of us obtain the Sun crossword.

Norrin2 said...

Good point, Orange. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Norrin, just got around to reading yesterday's. Congratulations on your 300th, and please keep up the good work. Rex's points are all valid, but sheesh! Lighten up, Rex! I started doing the Sun because of your blog, and it's been a great find - the Sun puzzle and your blog. Thank you for the work and thought you put into it.
Yesterday's posting on nostalgia was lyrical. Thanks also for that wonderful insight.

Norrin2 said...

cf, thank you very much for the kind words. I appreciate it, and I'm so glad you started doing the Sun puzzles because of this blog. Don't mind Rex. He is the King of Crossworld and sometimes his opinions sounds like edicts.