Tuesday, August 21, 2007


Got a good Wednesday puzzle for you, and we'll get to it 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 -- 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.

I liked this puzzle, but it's one of those times when the theme is harder to explain than to demonstrate. I'm going to try to explain it however. Stop me if any of this starts to make sense.

The theme of Alan Arbesfeld's "Greetings From the Front" involves 6 words or phrases that start off (the Front) with different ways of spelling the "aitch-long I" sound. Another word is then grafted onto the rear of this word, resulting in an unexpected new phrase. Hilarity ensues. (Well, hilarity ensues if you enjoy groanworthy puns as much as I do.)

And away we go. . .

18A: Chief Thief? (HIJACK LORD) Jack Lord is an actor best known for playing Steve McGarrett on the TV series "Hawaii 5-0" and for uttering the immortal catch phrase "Book 'em, Danno." Hawaii 5-0 was never one of my favorite shows, but I am grateful to it, since its title is the only reason I know that Hawaii and not Alaska is the 50th state.

24A: Fan letter? (HYPER MISSIVE) This is the only one of the themed entries that doesn't work for me. All of the others are people or things that one might conceivably say "Hi" to, but how and why would anybody ever verbally greet an adjective?

32A: Delay in verse production? (HAIKU WAIT) And this is my favorite of the themed entries. I just love the visual of somebody sitting there on the Persian Gulf trying to write a Japanese poem.

46A: Surprised shout upon seeing Meg, Beth, and Amy's sister? (HEIGH-HO JO) Howard Johnson's don't seem to be as ubiquitous as they were when I was a kid. We never stayed at the motels -- my Dad was a Holiday Inn man -- but we ate at the restaurants a lot. I remember they made great milkshakes.

52A: Bar association? (HIGHBALL CLUB) A highball is not any one particular type of cocktail, but basically any simple mixed drink served in a tall glass. Scotch and soda, Harvey Wallbanger, Cuba libre, and a sloe comfortable screw against the wall are all highballs.

64A: Five gold medals in speedskating at 1980 Olympics? (HEIDEN MARK) At the Lake Placid Olympics Eric Heiden did what no one before or since has done -- won five individual gold medals. He won more that year than Finland, Norway, the Netherlands, Switzerland, West Germany, Italy, Canada, Hungary, Japan, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia and France combined.

Other entries of interest:

23A: Powell's frequent co-star (LOY) That's William Powell and Myrna Loy -- or Aunt Myrna, as we called her. No, we're not really related, I'm just kidding, but I do feel a special bond with her. She's the most famous person with my last name and I wonder if she had as much trouble with people misspelling this little three-letter-surname. I get Lloyd, Floyd, Foy, Low, Lou -- you name it. In addition to the five Thin Man movies, Powell and Loy starred in nine other motion pictures together, including "Libeled Lady" with Jean Harlow and Spencer Tracy. Check them out here. I'll watch anything either of them are in, together they're even greater. In fact if you're looking for a gift for your favorite New York Sun crossword blogger, here's a suggestion.

45D: Gang hit, perhaps (DRIVE-BY) More proof that the Sun does not have anything like the NY Times's breakfast table rule.

68A: Banks, familiarly (MR CUB) I was sure after I had MRC that I had screwed up somewhere -- but I was thinking credit unions, the sides of rivers, the family in "Mary Poppins." Everything but baseball and hall of famer Ernie.

11D: Base runner? (AWOL) And here when I shouldn't have been thinking baseball, I was. Great clue for AWOL, by the way.

59A: Newman's ____ (OWN)
Highly recommend the salsa, the spaghetti sauce, the salad dressing -- but the Newman O cookies only if you can't get Oreos.

3D: Postmarked thing (STAMP) Well, technically, the thing that goes over a stamp is usually a cancelation mark, and the postmark -- indicating the date and time the USPS processed the item -- is to the left. I'm not just being a mail nerd -- Wikipedia agrees with me.

19D: Loonie, e.g. (COIN) Wow, Canadian slang. That's what they call their dollar coin which has a loon on one side and Queen Elizabeth on the other. Wonder why they don't call it a Betsy.

And from LOON, it's just a one-letter leap to Moon -- 21D. Drop ____ (TROU) So, we've gone from "Greetings From the Front" to mooning, or greetings from the rear.
Must be time for me to go. See y'all tomorrow.


campesite said...

Odd that Jack Lord appears in the Sun today and McGarrett appears in Patrick Blindauer's NYT puzzle.
Is that a Smurf dropping trou?

Howard B said...

It is kind of fun to see your surname pop up in a puzzle. Mine's in there very rarely (only one actress that shares it) so when it does make an appearance I have to admit it does make me chuckle. My name also gets folded, spindled, and mutilated several ways in the mail.

Campesite, to be technical, that appears to be a gnome of the garden/lawn variety. Had it been a smurf, it would have been a rare, distinctive blue moon.
(Ducks hurled tomatoes)
Thanks, you've been a great crowd. I'll be here all week.

Orange said...

how and why would anybody ever verbally greet an adjective?

"Hey, good-lookin'."

campesite said...

Thanks, Howard, you got an e-laugh from me.

Norrin2 said...

Good example, Orange. It's not exactly greeting an adjective, more like greeting someone as an adjective. But I concede the point.

So, Howard, what does that B stand for? Beckinsale? Bleeth? Bonham-Carter?

Howard B said...

That settles it. From here on, I'm changing my surname to Beckinsale-Bleeth-Bonham-Carter-Beethoven-Boutros-Ghali.
Let's see those bulk-mail marketers try that one on for size.

Austin said...

This puzzle kicked my butt today.

I did love the drop trou clue. :)

Also, over at Rex's site, Patrick Blindauer commented that this Friday's Sun is one of his. Should be a doozy.


Norrin2 said...

I'm looking forward to it, Austin. Blindauer is definitely one of my favorite constructors. I'll take an extra ginko biloba before I tackle one of his Fridays.