SUNDAY, Jun. 28 2009 — Locale for Apfelstrudel and Sachertorte / Tulip-exporting city / Tiny friend Dumbo / Cesar five-time gold glove winner 1972-76
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Constructor: Barry C. Silk
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: "SECRET INGREDIENTS" — circled squares inside eight theme answers spell out herbs (is PEPPER an herb?)
Word of the Day: DRAWEE (114A: Party to a financial transaction) — n.
The party on which an order for the payment of money is drawn.
Not among my favorite Silk creations. First off, this type of theme leaves me cold. I don't mind circled letters when they are doing something clever or interesting, but this pick-and-choose-
spell-things tactic is kind of stale — a low bar, especially without any additional element of thematic interest. If a theme answer is long enough, you can find Lots of embedded words in it. MANGO's in MANAGING EDITOR. RETINA's in PRINCETON SEMINARY. There's two new potential themes for you right there. Circling a ragged assortment of letters just doesn't feel very exciting or inspiring. I have high expectations for Silk puzzles, and there's none of his usual kick here. Further, some of the theme answers felt odd. PRINCETON SEMINARY doesn't seem a noteworthy enough place (no offense) to be a theme answer. COARSE-GRAINED WOOD was just blah. Felt weird to have to know two different middle initials for this one (I remembered MICHENER's but I didn't even know the TIMOTHY part of the MOUSE answer, let alone the "Q"!). Most of the non-theme fill seemed quite solid, but man oh man DRAWEE / WIEN is horrible. Never ever heard of a DRAWEE (114A: Party to a financial transaction) and had to infer WIEN (116D: Locale for Apfelstrudel and Sachertorte) from WIENERSCHNITZEL. It's the German spelling of Vienna, but that's a spelling rarely seen / heard over here. Very marginal financial word crossing marginal (*in its German spelling*) Austrian place = yikes. A huge black mark on an otherwise nicely filled puzzle. Just not feeling this one today.
- 23A: Battle of Trafalgar hero (Admiral Nelson) / DILL — why oh why did I write in ADMIRAL NIMITZ?
- 38A: Oak or ash (coarse-grained wood) / OREGANO
- 60A: Lucifer, notably (fallen angel) / FENNEL
- 83A: Suffer for acting unwisely (pay the piper) / PEPPER
- 101A: New Jersey ecumenical institution (Princeton Seminary) / ROSEMARY
- 124A: Tiny friend of Dumbo (Timothy Q. Mouse) / THYME
- 17D: "The World Is My Home" memoirist, 1991 (James A. Michener) / JASMINE
- 52D: Deadline maker (managing editor) / GINGER
The nature of the theme made the puzzle very very easy in parts — once you got the theme, if you had a circled square or two filled in, it wasn't hard to infer the herb and fill in the other circled squares. I got the theme very early — with this kind of theme, it's not hard. You need just one answer, two tops, and it's clear what the gimmick is. So I flew through most of it, but there were some patches that were quite rough. Puzzle first resisted me in the MANATEE (49D: Sighting off the coast of Florida) section of the grid — love that MANATEE crosses HOMELY, because, well, they are. I had MACAW for MYNAH (67A: Mimic of a sort), which gummed things up, and I couldn't understand 57A: Computer letters at all at first. When I saw the answer was EMAILS, I think I said "ugh" out loud. Not sure how I didn't see that. Don't know the Beach Boys song about WENDY (80A: Title girl of a 1964 Beach Boys song), so I had (misspelled) RONDA in there for a bit.
Then there was the TIMOTHY Q. MOUSE section, which was like a separate puzzle-within-a-puzzle. Rough. DRAWEE / WIEN was the big groin-kicker, but the "Q" in SQ MI (119D: 640 acres: Abbr.) was no picnic either. Took some time to get INTERS (132A: Lays low?), so the terminal "I" wasn't in place on SQ MI and without the "Q" or "I," I was confused. In the adjacent section, I wasn't sure how to spell TEENIE (128A: Like a yellow polka dot bikini in a 1961 #1 hit), and had SACHEL (?) for SACHET at first (103D: Bag in a closet). Oh, and I finished the puzzle with a mistake — misread the clue at 93D: Ones whose symbol is a harp as a singular clue, and so had IRISHMAN. This caused me to wonder, over and over, why MANDEL sounded so wrong for the genetics guy (129A: The Father of Genetics -> MENDEL).
1A: Blade for blades (scythe) — good one. Had to get it from crosses. True AHA moment.
13A: 1965 title role for Peter O'Toole (Lord Jim) — no idea. "Lord Jim" is a Conrad novel. I thought it was Kingsley Amis, but that's "Lucky Jim."
47A: Silents star Renee (Adoree) — again, no idea. Needed all the crosses. Add her to the list of other silent actresses you see in puzzles, like POLA NEGRI and MABEL Normand and THEDA BARA. The "A" cross was unknown to me: HAARLEM (34D: Tulip-exporting city).
74A: Container that's hoisted (stein) — They love to hoist their STEINs in WIEN.
121A: Co-star of "Grumpy Old Men," 1993 (Matthau) — "Odd Couple" reunited.
2D: Cesar _____, five-time Gold Glove winner, 1972-76 (Cedeno) — rough if you're not a hardcore baseball fan. I collected baseball cards at the right time (late 70s/early 80s) to make his name a gimme for me. I think he was on the Astros when I was collecting.
76D: It has 1,366 seats: Abbr. (NYSE) — without "WENDY" to help in the cross, this took me a bit.
102D: Axis leader (Il Duce) — another rough one. Had the "I" and thought "??? ... IDI AM... no ..."
107D: Snack food made by Drake's (Yodels) — started writing YOOHOOs (that's a drink), then melded that with HO HO's (a snack food, but the wrong one), and eventually ended up with the right answer. Not on my junk food menu growing up. If I was going to eat baked goods, I was going to Winchell's to get fresh-baked donuts ... maybe stop by McDonald's to get a 20-pc Chicken McNuggets. How I survived teenagedom without becoming obese is Beyond me.
And now, culled from Twitter, your Puzzle Tweets of the Week:
- ericmathew As a train we are filling out a crossword puzzle. Only at 2am and in nj.
- nicavecmini sat on a train drinking wine and listening to some retards doing a crossword
- MikeHasTweets Why do I even bother with post-Wednesday crosswords? (not rhetorical)
- zsumoz Saturday's NY Times crossword dominated. In pen. #willshortz
- mssilhouette On My Fifth Crossword Puzzle As I Watch The Golden Girls
- foodjobsbook If you are good at solving crossword puzzles, consider a career as a freelance cookbook indexer.
- wineoffensive It's a Jay-Z unplugged kinda day. Also an NYT xword kinda day. A baking kinda day. You know, a piquito enchildas verde kinda day...
- shewillbeapples: Crossword clue: Autograph site (4 letters). Me: "Boob?" Dad: "U need to engage your brain before you open your mouth.”
And lastly, one announcement today — the upcoming Lollapuzzoola 2 Crossword Tournament, hosted by Ryan Hecht and Brian Cimmet. Here's the info provided to me by Ryan (for more infor, contact email@example.com):
- WHAT: Lollapuzzoola 2: Son of Puzzoola, a fun-filled crossword tournament
- WHEN: Saturday, August 22, 2009 from 11am to 5pm
- WHERE: Community Church in Jackson Heights, NY (that's part of Queens -- and it's the church where Scrabble was invented!)
- WHO: Hosted by Brian Cimmet and Ryan Hecht of the blog "Ryan and Brian Do Crosswords" and the podcast "Fill Me In"
- HOW MUCH: $20, payable online via PayPal or pay at the door when you arrive.
It's a crossword tournament with assorted twists... Last year's event included a Name That Tune puzzle with live musical accompaniment, a snack puzzle (three secret entries in the grid were CHI-PSA-HOY, and you had to eat a cookie), a surprise game of Twister (theme entries included RED, BLUE, RIGHT, LEFT, FOOT, HAND, etc.). We were even honored with a visit from the Puzzlemaster himself, Mr. Will Shortz.
We can't give away the secrets of this year's tournament, but we have confirmed a few of the puzzle constructors -- Peter Gordon, Todd McClary and Mike Nothnagel will be providing three of the six puzzles featured in the tournament. We'll also be having ACPT-style finals, with two skill level divisions and dry-erase board solving for the finalists. And of course we'll be offering our patented Google Tickets, making those Friday- and Saturday-level puzzles a bit more manageable for the everyday solvers.
Some snacks and drinks will be provided. Prizes will range from unique to useless. What more could you want?
That's all. See you tomorrow.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld