Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Thursday 9-6-07

To those who say that the crossword puzzle is played out, passé, yesterday's news,
That all the good themes have been used, reused, overused and abused,
I say the old game's still got plenty of power,
And here to prove it is my friend, Patrick Blindauer

And I sure hope hope I've been mentally pronouncing his name correctly, otherwise my poem is ruined and I'll have cleared off that space on the mantel for my Pulitzer needlessly.

Recently Blindauer has turned crossword puzzles into an acrostic, a word search, a chess problem and a deck of cards. Today he brings us a more modern diversion -- this crossword puzzle turns into a video game.

How in the -- ? Find out after the 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.

"Hop to It" comes with a "See Notepad" suggestion, and I definitely suggest you follow that suggestion. The notepad says:"Moving up, down, left, or right, go from the shaded square in the bottom row to one of the five shaded squares at the top using only squares that contain the letters of 36-Across. You may not move to any particular square more than once."

In other words it's just like 36A: Game that's the theme of this puzzle (FROGGER) . In case you're not familiar with Frogger, it was a video game introduced in the early 80's, where you guided a frog across a busy highway and a dangerous waterway safely to his home -- theoretically. There were cars and trucks and crocodiles and other hazards you had to avoid to keep from becoming tiny green roadkill. It looked a little something like this:

You'll notice that most of those hazards are here in this puzzle as well -- there's a CAR in 53A: Calling (CAREER) and a TRUCK in 55A: Started, as a conversation (STRUCK UP) (although for some reason, only the first four letters are circled so it's actually a TRUC, not sure why the K didn't get a circle.) Up in what would be the watery portion of the puzzle we've got a CROC at 20A: Thornton's role in "The Alamo" (CROCKETT) and a LOG at 22A:Robert of "Jagged Edge" (LOGGIA).
By the way, I see two possible paths that will get your frog to safety in this puzzle, depending on whether you take a right or a left at the G in LOG. Ignore those poorly-erased red lines on the left side of the puzzle. I did those before I remembered that you couldn't go diagonally.

Other entries of interest:

6D: Drives crookedly (ABETS) Great clue. I was thinking SWERVE and ZIG-ZAG and even SLALOM.

9A: He outmanaged Sparky in the 1970 World Series (EARL) That would be Earl Weaver, hot-headed manager of the Baltimore Orioles. Up until recently he held the record for most ejections until Atlanta Braves skipper Bobby Cox passed him this season. Weaver was a very successful manager but I hated his baseball philosophy. Weaver wasn't interested in bunts or steals or hit and run plays or other plays that make baseball so exciting. It was all about waiting for the three-run homer.

29D: He and his brother were very close (ENG) You can't get much closer than Siamese twins.

30D: Bolted down nuts, maybe (ATE) and 51D: Buggers (PESTS). A couple more misleading clues, in the first instance I was thinking about screws and wrenches and in the second I was thinking about. . . well, British sodomy.

I didn't get 48A: Maxim makers, for short? because I had 28D: 2002 M. Night Shyamalan film (SIGNS) wrong. I had EDA at 48-Across, but when I realized it should be EDS, I still didn't get it. Is that EDS as in Educators?

45A: Diana of "The Avengers" (RIGG) A pretty recognizable name clued straightforwardly, but I had to mention it if I was going to run her picture, and I definitely did want to run her picture.


Howard B said...

Being a video-game aficionado in my earlier days, I really enjoyed this puzzle.
I first found the second path through the 'maze' you described, but decided that wasn't the intended path since it ends at a 'T' (which isn't part of the theme answer). Given the choice between the two paths, the one ending at 'R' seems to fit more consistently.
Maybe the 'T' represents a crocodile hiding in the home spot, leading to a not-so-happy ending for our froggy friend.

Norrin2 said...

I was never what you'd call a gamer, but I enjoyed the occasional round of Frogger back in the day.
The way I interpret the instructions for this puzzle, any of the five home squares are all right, you just have to use the letters F,R,O,G and E to get there. But I could be wrong.

Austin said...

I loved this puzzle. Another great one from PBlindauer.

ERNORUBIK gave me a headache for a loooong while. I even had ERNORUB until it finally dawned on me.

I also liked seeing RUCKUS, ISAIAH, and GURNEY right next to each other. Neither of them very common words.

Anonymous said...

Glad you liked my latest word-baby. Yes, I intended the rightmost path to be a dead end - maybe I should have ended it one square sooner to avoid confusion. I'll keep it in mind on any future maze puzzles.

Oh, and EDS is short for 'editors.'

PB2, who can't wait for the reactions to tomorrow's eye-popper