Monday, March 2, 2009

Sunset, Sunrise?

As of now, the Sun puzzle has ceased to exist. However, if enough people commit their interest, Peter Gordon will again begin to produce this fantastic puzzle. The price is incredibly reasonable at about 20 cents a puzzle. That's a dollar a week, and less than five dollars a month. Can you even buy a latte for that these days? Maybe just. So, for the price of one latte a month, you could (again) be enjoying these puzzles that are every bit as good as New York Times puzzles, a touch harder even in the early week, and a touch edgier in many respects. The vast majority are by the same quality constructors you've come to know and love.

The loss of the Sun is especially sad for constructors. There are now 250+ fewer spots per year for quality puzzles to see the light of day. And Peter Gordon is the anti-Shortz when it comes to response times. Whereas the New York Times will respond to a submission in anywhere from one to six months (sometimes longer), Peter Gordon usually responds within 24 hours! Whether for a budding constructor or a seasoned veteran, that's just a wonderful thing.

So, what are you waiting for? Are you seriously going to tell me you don't think 20+ of these puzzles in a month isn't worth five bucks? How much do you spend on videos? On coffee? On highway tolls? On vending machines? On lottery tickets? You wouldn't forego one restaurant lunch every two months to get a daily Sun puzzle? I know I would.

Think it over. Sure there are plenty of free puzzles out there. But somehow, they just don't seem to measure up. Here's the link:

Thanks for listening.

- Pete M.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday, February 27, 2009

Title: Think Twice
Author: Mark Diehl
Theme: Double edged -- all squares around the perimeter contain two letters each.

  • 17a: Fuzz busters? (RaZORBLADES). A nice clue here, evoking the slang for a radar detector.

  • 40a: Excalibur and Glamdring (BROADSWORDS). Glamdring was the name of the sword found in the troll lair in "The Hobbit" and wielded by Gandalf throughout the rest of that book and through the "Lord of the Rings". That single reference warrants a geek tag like no other reference I've ever seen. Awesome!

  • 64a: Like 17- and 40-Across (and this puzzle) (DOUBLE-EDGEd).

  • I love this theme. I really do. I knew there was something funky going on (not in the 39d: Funk (ODOR) sense of the word) when so few words were fitting where I thought they should go. The one that confirmed there was something up was HALTER, which I knew had to be right. Then I got the theme clue and it all fell into place beautifully. Not to say it wasn't still a challenge, because it was. Perfect for a Friday.

    Here are the rest of the edge clues:

  • 1a: Arctic game (CaRiBoUs). This one threw me a bit, even after I knew the theme, because I've always thought the plural of caribou was caribou (like moose and deer). I've never heard it pluralized in this fashion, though the dictionary backs it as an option. Caribou is also the name of an alcoholic concoction commonly drank in unseemly quantities at Quebec Winter Carnival. If you've been to Quebec in the winter, you'll understand the appeal.

  • 5a: 2001 Robert De Niro film (ThE sCoRe). Great film, also starring Edward Norton and featuring Marlon Brando.

  • 9a: Oscar-winning song from "Captain Carey, U.S.A." (MoNa LiSa). This classic, sung by Nat King Cole, was the first "Best Song" Oscar from a non-musical drama. Here, I hope, is a link to it. (My company has blocked my access to youtube, so I can't verify it. If it's wrong, I apologize.)

  • 13a: Derby distance (MeTRE). Derby is a city in England, hence the spelling. Not the distance of a particular race or of a hat of any kind. I confidently put MILE here before I knew what was going on.

  • 16a: "Little House on the Prairie" tribe (OSAGe).

  • 19a: Miranda Cosgrove TV character surnamed Shay (CARLy). Didn't know this at all. You might remember her as Summer, the cocky girl who becomes the band manager in "School of Rock".

  • 23a: Garner (JeNN). Just kidding. It's ReAP.

  • 27a: Slush fund purchase? (SNOWTIRe). Ouch.

  • 31a: Traverse (CoURSE).

  • 35a: Ballpark figures (ERAs).

  • 36a: "A Journal of the Plague Year" author (DeFOE). I couldn't have named a single thing he wrote other than Robinson Crusoe. I suspect I'm not alone here.

  • 38a: Affixes, in a way (IRONS On).

  • 43a: To such an extent (as) (InSOFAR).

  • 46a: Word with space or rock (OPERa). I assume that's opera space, not space opera? Maybe I'm wrong. Has "Star Wars" been made into a musical yet?

  • 49a: Nana (GrAN).

  • 52a: Injustices (WRONGs).

  • 53a: "Count me in!" (I'd LOVE TO). Great fill.

  • 57a: Drawn figure (TOOn).

  • 61a: Draw back (CoWER).

  • 69a: Certain furbearer (StOAT). Furbearer is a weird word. Are we skinbearers? Are fish scalebearers?

  • 71a: Con game (BUNKo).

  • 72a: Party mix ingredient (CoRn ChEx). Mmmmm. Party mix.

  • 73a: Cause (EnGeNdEr).

  • 74a: Military unit insignia (ArM pAtCh).

  • 1d: Shooter's device (CaMeRa).

  • 2d: It's scalloped (RiTZ). I couldn't figure out where this clue was going to save my life. Then I got it from crossings and went "Doh!".

  • 3d: Jersey municipality (BoRO).

  • 4d: They're not clean (UsERS). Drug reference.

  • 5d: Calliope kin (ThALIA). Muses. Usually, it's Erato.

  • 6d: Conveyance in an emergency (EsCAPE POD). Love it.

  • 7d: Mixed (CoED). Sensitively clued as the adjective, not the more-politically-incorrect noun.

  • 8d: Make available (ReLEASE). As DVDs, CDs, games, etc.

  • 9d: Kid's farm sighting (MoO-COW). As opposed to all those baa-cows and neigh-cows out there. This felt like a bit of a stretch, but I can accept it. I guess.

  • 10d: Columbia org. (NaSA). The space shuttle Columbia, not the city or the school.

  • 11d: Trust buster? (LiAR).

  • 12d: With prudence (SaGeLy).

  • 23d: Change, as a computer program (ReCoDe). Well, sort of. Recode typically implies that you're starting from scratch, not modifying an existing program. So, if you start from scratch to create something that does basically the same thing, is it the same computer program anymore? Maybe it depends on whether you name it the same thing.

  • 30d: Think in a logical manner (ReAsOn). "Logic is little tweeting bird chirping in meadow."

  • 42d: Citizen part (WATCHBANd).

  • 43d: Anastasia portrayer (InGrId). Bergman, of course.

  • 48d: Teases (RaGs On).

  • 51d: Ran a successful pass pattern (GOT OPEn). I like this fill a lot.

  • 54d: Top (VERTEx).

  • 56d: Kind of top (HALTEr).

  • 60d: Keep out (DEBAr).

  • 61d: Place to buy Kirkland Signature products (CoStCo). Never shopped there; never heard of Kirkland Signature products.

  • 62d: Spent (WORn).

  • 63d: Not together (EACh).

  • 65d: Lean on (URGe).

  • 66d: Sell off rapidly (DUMp).

  • 67d: Black fly (GNAt).

  • 68d: Successor to Joseph Wapner (Ed KoCh).

  • 58a: Polish phrases, say (EDIT). Very cute clue.

  • 70a: Presumably thin guy of rhyme (SPRAT). Jack Sprat could eat no fat, his wife could eat no lean.

  • 18d: Animated TV dog (BLUE). I don't know what this references.

  • 22d: Start of a saying about forgiveness (TO ERR).

  • 28d: Hamilton (TENSPOT). I've never called a 10-dollar bill a "Hamilton", but then again I've never called it a tenspot either. I do know that Alexander Hamilton is on the ten, though, so it's not a reach.

  • 37d: Pulsating pair (CAROTIDS).

  • 47d: Spoon drummer Jim (ENO). Is he related to Brian?

  • 52d: Osso buco ingredient (WINE). First guess VEAL; second guess BONE; finally figured it out.

This was a really beautiful puzzle, and a great send-off (hopefully not forever) for the Sun puzzle series.

I've had a great time blogging and want to thank everyone who came to read and/or post along the way, and to all those who have supported me, openly and behind the scenes. You know who you are.

Special thanks to Peter Gordon who, if you ask me, shouldn't have to pay for a single drink this whole weekend. If you see this guy, show your love.

Well, in the words of one Bilbo Baggins...

I regret to announce, this is the end.
I'm going now - I bid you all a very fond farewell.


Thanks for listening.

- Pete M.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Title: Themeless Thursday
Author: Tony Orbach
Theme: NA

Here it is, the penultimate Sun puzzle, and a typically excellent one. But the sun (the real sun) is out and I want to go outside and play, so comments will be sparse and brief.
        1a: Cruel inquisitor (TORQUEMADA).

      • 11a: Posse members (PALS). I grew up watching western movies with my dad. Posse to me will always involve horses and cowboys.

      • 15a: Did a 180 (ABOUTFACED).

      • 16a: Davis-drawn dog (ODIE). That's Jim Davis of Garfield fame, of course.

      • 17a: Hide (CAMOUFLAGE).

      • 18a: Bubkes (NONE).

      • 19a: Piece of praise (ODE).

      • 20a: Ways (ROADS).

      • 21a: Turkic tongue (UZBEK).

      • 22a: How ham might be ordered (ONRYE).

      • 23a: Electrolyte particles (ANIONS). How might ham be ordered by a physicist? With anions.

      • 24a: Dominatrix, for example (SADIST).

      • 27a: Many pound inhabitants (MUTTS).

      • 29a: Robbie's dad (EVEL).

      • 30a: Sufi beliefs, e.g. (MYSTICISM).

      • 34a: Social goodie (TEACAKE).

      • 37a: Ghost costume cutout (EYEHOLE).

      • 38a: It's made without yeast (SODABREAD). It's made without soda too.

      • 40a: BrĂ©sil division (ETAT).

      • 41a: Small recesses (NOOKS).

      • 42a: Adds streets to, say (REMAPS).

      • 44a: Vanilla, e.g. (ORCHID).

      • 47a: French river (SAONE).

      • 49a: Scrupulous (MORAL).

      • 50a: "Fuego del Ande" singer (SUMAC).

      • 51a: Brand of energy drink (AMP).

      • 54a: Continuously (EVER).

      • 55a: "Synkronized" band (JAMIROQUAI). Never heard of them. Very Scrabbly.

      • 57a: Get ready, with "up" (GEAR).

      • 58a: "Theodora Goes Wild" star (IRENEDUNNE).

      • 59a: Throng (ARMY).

      • 60a: Done wrong (MISTREATED).

      • 1d: Soft shell grab? (TACO).

      • 2d: One-chapter O.T. book (OBAD).

      • 3d: Where "Tosca" takes place (ROME).

      • 4d: Status follower (QUO).

      • 5d: One-way street no-nos (UTURNS).

      • 6d: Endeavor (EFFORT).

      • 7d: Language of Singapore (MALAY).

      • 8d: Part of AMPAS (ACADEMY). The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded the Oscar to the only one of the five best picture nominees I saw "Slumdog Millionaire." Great movie.

      • 9d: There are nine in F. for every five in C. (DEGS).

      • 10d: Orange additive? (ADE).

      • 11d: Bernard Madoff offering (PONZISCHEME).

      • 12d: Spicy Mexican marinade (ADOBO).

      • 13d: It often stays in the closet (LINEN).

      • 14d: Personal ad word (SEEKS).

      • 21d: Loose (UNTIE).

      • 22d: "Mighty Mouse" villain (OILCANHARRY). I vaguely remember this meanie, although if you'd asked me to name somebody named Oil Can I'd've gone with Boston Red Sox pitcher Oil Can Boyd.

      • 23d: Case worker: Abbr. (ATTY).

      • 24d: Prepares for a spike (SETS).

      • 25d: Subcompact from Chevrolet (AVEO).

      • 26d: Word with heat or meat (DEAD).

      • 28d: Put into service (USED).

      • 30d: Pigeon-hearted (MEEK).

      • 31d: Grain (IOTA).

      • 32d: Rough the passer? (SLAP).

      • 33d: "Kiner's Korner" interviewees (METS).

      • 35d: In a tumultuous state (ABOIL).

      • 36d: Nickname of Mariano Rivera's crosstown rival (KROD). If you wonder how Francisco Rodriguez got the nickname K-Rod and not F-Rod, you should know that in baseball notation a strikeout is symbolized by the letter K. Rodriguez strikes out a lot of batters.

      • 39d: Postulates (ASSUMES).

      • 42d: Lion, at times (ROARER).

      • 43d: Protect from the enemy, in a way (ENCODE).

      • 44d: "The ___ Man" (1971 Charlton Heston film) (OMEGA). One of my favorites, recently redone with Will Smith and a new title (which escapes me.)

      • 45d: Name on a bone-shaped ID tag, perhaps (ROVER).

      • 46d: Beat by a lot (CREAM).

      • 48d: Make ___ (strike it rich) (AMINT).

      • 50d: Draped dress (SARI).

      • 51d: Jessica Simpson, to Bronx Mowgli Wentz (AUNT).

      • 52d: Locks in a paddock? (MANE).

      • 53d: Foot, in French (PIED).

      • 55d: "Broken Flowers" director Jarmusch (JIM).

      • 56d: As (QUA).

      • Good luck at the ACPT.