Thursday, April 28, 2005

Good Grief!

(As an update, recently, there is a surge of google searches for this particular puzzle. I am intrigued to as why the sudden interest, so if anyone can leave me a note as to why, it would be great! Highlight to reveal answers)

If I can just get the theme for a Thursday puzzle, it must be a good day. Today's puzzle, by Elizabeth Gorski, was a good and fun one. It has three themed entries as well as a 2 word title hidden in the puzzle. And I love this cute little theme, totally cool.

1962 Peace Nobelist - "Linus Pauling"
Actress in "Hercules and the Amazon Women" - "Lucy Lawless"
"Wall Street" actor - "Charlie Sheen"
Possible title for this puzzle - "Peanuts Gallery"

Cute clues:
Fifth wheels - spares
World Views? - atlases
Centipede's head? - softc

New to me:
Stalags - A German prisoner of war camp for officers and enlisted personnel.
Amernia's currency - dram ( = 100 luoma)
Sade (pronounced shar-day)- R&B, jazz artist, with Smooth Operator, Hang On To Your Love, The Sweetest Taboo, By Your Side and Love is King.
Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz (1648-1695) - Mexican Nun, poet, philosopher and feminist.
1977 Steeley Dan Album - Aja
Alnico - Magnet alloy of iron, cobalt, nickel, aluminum and copper.

On another puzzle last night (not the NYT) I came across a cute little clue:
What happens when the smog lifts? - ucla

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Morning sickness

Today's crossword is a running quote across three lines, compiled by Lyell Rodieck. The quote is cute, but I cannot comiserate because I am not one who owns a pet. "There's no snooze button on a cat who wants breakfast."

Cute clue:
Beaverlike? - eager
Ancient Mariner, e.g. - oldseadog

Things to know:
Linda Ellerbee - NBC, ABC anchor and journalist. Authored And So It Goes and Move On.
Lepidopterist - Butterfly enthusiast
Albedo - a measure of reflectivity of a surface or body, ie planets.
Aspic - a dish in which ingredients are set into a gelatin, made from a meat stock or consumme.

And since Etna comes up a lot, let me do a highschool report on it. Etna is an active volcano on the east coast of Sicily, close to Messina and Catania. It is the largest volcano in Europe, and three times the height of the next largest, Mount Vesuvius. It is one of the most active volcanoes in the world and is in an almost constant state of eruption. Virgil wrote about its eruption in the Aeneid. 20th century eruptions occurred in 1949, 1971, 1991, and 2000. In 2001-2002, the biggest series of eruptions for many years threw up a huge column of ash that could easily be seen from space and fell as far away as Libya, on the far side of the Mediterranean Sea. Here's an Etna webcam.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

It grows in Brooklyn

I must admit, I underestimated today's crossword puzzle. I'm staring at it right now, and I still have a bunch of blank squares that I cannot fill in. Still, I liked the main theme:
Two, to four - squareroot
Holiday dinner insert, perhaps - tableleaf
Troupe member's "closet" - wardrobetrunk
Medulla's place - brainstem
Where ATMs may be found - bankbranch

I liked this witty clue:
Changed locks? - dyed

Things I didn't know:
Perle Mesta - Washington hostess, inspired the Berlin musical, Call me Madam.
Eau de vie - literally "water of life", a white brandy.
"I let a song go out of my heart" - Ellington jazz standard
Daniel Oretga - Daniel Ortega Saaverda, Nicaragua's Sandanista president, '85-'90.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Freedom Fries

A quick and breezy puzzle by Alison Donald, where 4 clues are united by a common word:
Where actors put costumes on - dressingroom
1950's girl's fashion - poodleskirt
Witty banquet figure - toastmaster
Thanksgiving decoration - hornofplenty
And let's just say the word that can precede this clue is a synonym of freedom.

Here's a list of people I didn't know for this crossword (let's google them!):
Mimi Sheraton: Food critic, notably for the New York magazine and NYT.
Ara Parseghian: Notre Dame football coach, apparently quite famous.
Cyrus Vance: Sec of State under Jimmy Carter
Pierre Loti: French writer of the late 18th, early 19th century. Notable works: The Third Youth of Mrs. Plum, The Disenchanted, The Death of Philae, and Judith Renaudin.
Ryan Nolan: Record-breaking baseball pitcher, notably for the Rangers.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Welcome to the NYT Crosswords Blog

Hello friends,

I spend an inordinate amount of time doing crossword puzzles. Not just any old crossword, but the most esteemed crosswords for the trivial cruciverbalist. My day begins with a cup of warm tea and an eager mechanical pencil all in the face of the latest NYT crossword puzzle. Unfortunately, I'm not a very good solver, and I can usually finish a Wednesday puzzle with a few empty squares. Completing a Thursday puzzle would be akin to winning a minor lottery. I don't even look at the Friday or Saturday crosswords out of sheer fear. And I can google my way out of a Sunday puzzle.

Often, I print out old puzzles from the archive and complete them instead of listening to my statistics professor in class. Unfortunately, few of my colleagues share the triumph and heartbreak associated with the NYT crosswords. I love puns and wordplay, and a clever crossword really blows my mind. That said, I want to share with everyone who cares about what I think of that day's NYT crossword puzzle, and well as record down witty clues and pretty themes. Also, I would like to record interesting words, or recurring clues that I should know by now.

Just to let you know how dorky I am: there's a picture frame on my work desk with my favorite puzzle ever. Ever. It's not because I was particularly good at it, but it was the first crossword puzzle to totally blow my mind away. It was Patrick Merrell's Oct 24, 2002. A friend and I solved it together. The theme was a secret message hidden in the crossword. And when we finally solved it, it was layers upon layers of revelation and epiphanies beyond anything I thought a crossword can do.

Hopefully, i can ultimately share the joys of solving crosswords with you. But not too much, because I don't want you to be better than I am at them.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

One fish, two fish

I like it when the author of the puzzle, this time David Bunker, incorporates a punny title inside the crossword after giving a list of themed clues. This puzzle had 4 themes and also two that actually intersect with the title in the center of the puzzle. This puzzles main clue: Arboreal rodent; Grizzly, eg; Earth's largest mammal; Western Raptor. A fun and colorful puzzle.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Million Dollar Baby

Today's main clues are: Suffer a serious blow; Out, so to speak; Give up. A very straightforward puzzle with a theme prime with the clue 'Boxing venue'.

Since it comes up so often, I need to learn my 9 Muses:
Euterpe (music)
Calliope (epic poetry)
Clio (history)
Erato (lyric poetry)
Melpomene (tragedy)
Polyhymnia (sacred poetry)
Terpsichore (dancing)
Thalia (comedy)
Urania (astronomy)