Adventures in In-Flight Crosswords

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Going through my email Inbox, I found the following group of clues and answers from an in-flight magazine puzzle I'd solved during my return flight from California in January. Hope these make you appreciate how smooth the fill is in most NYT (and LAT and WSJ etc.) puzzles.

  • 14A: Water wheel - NORIA
  • 17A: River in western Canada - LIARD

those two sat one atop the other. Then there's...

  • 24D: Wild sheep of South Asia - URIAL (I *wish* it had been ARGALI)
  • 30D: Jaguarundi - EYRA (?????)
  • 36D: Itch in Scotland - YEUK
  • 40A: Signet (Middle English) - SIGIL
  • 42A: Echo-free - ANECHOIC (my personal "favorite")
  • 31D: Tree frog - HYLA
  • 47D: Intestinal obstruction - ILEUS (yeuk!)


Alex 5:53 PM  

I just did the American Airlines puzzle on a flight. It was actually pretty good -- a 21x by Harvey Estes. I especially liked the clue [Venetian blind with jealousy] ... 4 letters, you figure it out.

Rex Parker 5:58 PM  

IAGO. Cool.

Yes, most in-flight xwords, the ones on the major carriers, are quite competent - done by familiar (to me) names. The carrier I was on ... was small. SkyWest? Is that ... something?


Shin Kokin Wakashu 6:12 PM  

SIGIL seems somewhat reasonable to me although I don't know that I would have gotten it from that clue. It's sort of a fantasy-geek type word.

Recently I did a puzzle that had IVA clued as "yellow bugle" and KRA clued as "long-tailed ape".

JannieB 6:18 PM  

Lord, what airlines was that? I haven't seen fill that esoteric since the Maleska era. Yeesh!

ArtLvr 6:18 PM  

NORIA goes waaaay back! Maybe 50 yrs old...

SethG 7:22 PM  

I was just talking about anechoic the other day. That clue is horrid, but the answer's kinda nice. (You know what you might use in an anechoic chamber? GOBOS!)

And YEUK sounds like...more than an itch.

I took a flight (on Frontier) where the crossword had

5A: Aftermath - ROWEN
18A: Island in the East China Sea - MATSU
20A: Warm-blooded - HOMOIOTHERMAL

all crossing

5D: Branching - RAMOSE

I...did not finish that section.

Yes, definitely a big thanks to you constructors and editors who put care into your work.

Rex Parker 7:28 PM  

RAMOS, strangely, I know, possibly because of its Latin root, possibly because a crossword slapped me upside the head with it once. That other stuff ... I'm not convinced it's English. I guess MATSU literally isn't. Is that really HOMOIOTHERMAL? Not a typo? Yeuk, I say.

Rex Parker 7:29 PM  

I mean "RAMOSE." I don't know who RAMOS is.

Alex 8:10 PM  

Apparently American Airlines posts their puzzles online for anyone who's interested. No hope of converting this one into Across Lite, I'm afraid ...

dk 8:15 PM  

Ramos fizz: yum.

Airline puzzles another reason not to fly. I never saw puzzles by "known" constructors." That said I am happy to hear they are out there.

Rex Parker 10:59 PM  

Well, dk, you are certain to figure prominently in tomorrow's write-up. Tune in tomorrow to see why. Or just do tomorrow's puzzle. It should be obvious. For now I'll just say 'thanks.'


retired_chemist 11:05 PM  

I don't recall hearing of Harvey Estes, but I too liked his puzzle in American way this month.

Shin Kokin Wakashu 11:21 PM  

Rex: I'll second that. Otherwise I would have just stared at the puzzle wondering how I can get SLOE to fit in 5 spaces.

Anonymous 12:04 AM  

That is a remarkable coincidence (and one heck of a helpful coincidence as well).

Anonymous 12:06 AM  

I echo the comments above as re: anechoic. The answer is kinda nice. Let us hope, though, that it doesn't keep coming back in future puzzles.

Lisa in Kingston 1:36 AM  

Hi Rex. My Mac was able to identify all but "liard" and "yeuk" using the onboard dictionary (ctrl, apple, d). But that's cheating, I know. Sorry. ;) Both sound like somebody's had too much of something!

Ruth 8:41 AM  

ANECHOIC is pretty common medicalese--used in describing ultrasound findings: anechoic structures have--well--no echoes (i.e. they look black with no little white or grey dots and lines in them--to those of us who are not "imaging specialists"). Not sure when medicalese becomes legit for crosswords--obviously ulna and ilia have long since passed the inclusion test.

Howard B 11:33 AM  

Alex - I just did that xword on the flight I was on earlier this week - pretty nice. There was also a Cox/Rathvon puzzle on the flight after that one. After reading these posts, I feel lucky I wasn't on the other airlines.

The magazines' sudokus, however, were lethal to me.

acme 2:19 AM  

A few months ago, I had a friend write from the Northwest terminal that he was in-between flights doing one of my puzzles in their inflight mag, reprinted from the NY Times.

Part of me was thrilled, part of me thought "Dang, yet someone else they resold my work to without any additional compensation".

I know, I know, a lost cause. But I'm going to at least speak up about it from time to time, before I'm shut up for good!

Orange 1:33 PM  

Harvey Estes is great. He's among the more playful constructors/cluers. His cryptics in Games tend to have really lively phrases as the answers, which isn't the case for too many other cryptics.

Ruth stole my comment about anechoic bits on ultrasound images.

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