Thursday, June 26, 2008

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Title: Here Comes the Sun
Author: Patrick Blindauer
Theme: Hidden image of the sun, revealed by shading all occurrences of the letter I, as indicated by the theme hint entry:
  • 38a: Advice during a solar eclipse (and a homophonic hint to uncovering this puzzle's secret image) (SHADE YOUR EYES).

This is the kind of clever theme we've come to expect from Patrick Blindauer. Well-executed, with 32 "I"s forming the sun and its rays.

Sunny Spots:

Here's the unfortunate downside of this type of theme. All those "I"s make the fill difficult. As a result, there really are no stand-out entries in my mind. Don't get me wrong, the fill isn't bad at all; there just aren't any real marquee (look Joon, I spelled it right this time) entries.


  • 1a: Has an online chat with, perhaps (IMS). Instant Messages.

  • 4a: Name before Reagan in "We Didn't Start the Fire" (BEGIN). Not my favorite Billy Joel song, but not hard to figure out with a couple of crossings.

  • 9a: "Pardon me," in Italy (SCUSI).

  • 14a: Marcel Marceau character (BIP). I know this from crosswords. Nice tie-back to Tuesday's MIME fill.

  • 16a: Sensational (LURID). Lurid is a great word. Love it.

  • 17a: Puzzling (ENIGMATIC).

  • 19a: Bush appointee to the Supreme Court (ALITO), which balances (politically) 44a: Hastert's successor as Speaker of the House (PELOSI).

  • 21a: Japanese floor covering (TATAMI). The first of a set of Japanese clues, including 42a: Japanese version of chess (SHOGI), and 52a: Japanese beer (KIRIN).

  • 23a: Ending of many crossword clues for pluralized names (ET AL). Which goes along with 68a: Clarifying Latin phrase (ID EST).

  • 24a: Offed (DID IN).

  • 25a: Soft ball brand (NERF).

  • 29a: Pizza topping (SALAMI). Salami is not a common pizza topping around here. Pepperoni, meatball/hamburg, sausage, and ham are pretty much the pizza meats.

  • 31a: Lake that feeds the Mississippi (ITASCA).

  • 33a: Suggest (IMPLY). This one pairs nicely with 46a: Surmises (INFERS), as many people mistaken use them interchangeably.

  • 37a: Soul singer Thomas and food writer Rombauer (IRMAS).

  • 51a: Arabian Sea gulf (ADEN).

  • 56a: Character killed by Tess in "Tess of the D'Urbervilles" (ALEC).

  • 57a: Maverick's rival in "Top Gun" (ICEMAN). As you might expect, I'm a fan of "Top Gun". If you don't know why, go watch the movie again. I think you'll figure it out.

  • 59a: Element #41 is named after her (NIOBE). I couldn't tell you anything about niobium, but I've heard of it. So have you if you've heard this Tom Lehrer song:

  • 63a: It might be sticky (SITUATION). Very nice clue.

  • 1d: Wild goats of Eurasia (IBEXES).

  • 3d: Back drops? (SPINAL). I assume this is referring to a spinal as in anesthesia. I'm not sure I'm crazy about this one.

  • 4d: The Tide (BAMA). We just saw Bama in reference to Joe Namath, so this should have been fresh in your minds.

  • 6d: "Growing Up ___" (reality show) (GOTTI). I wanted BRADY here. There was such a show, wasn't there? Or was it a book?

  • 7d: Troy story (ILIAD).

  • 8d: Prefix meaning "night" (NOCTI). My problem with prefixes is I never know what vowel they're going to end with. NOCTA, NOCTU, NOCTI, NOCTO - they all seem equally plausible. In fact, it seems to me that NOCT- is really the prefix.

  • 10d: The ___ Institute of America (school in Hyde Park, New York) (CULINARY). Didn't know it off the top, but easy enough to figure.

  • 11d: Canton whose capital is Altdorf (URI). I had an inkling that this was the answer immediately, so I must have seen this before in other puzzles.

  • 18d: Arizona river (GILA).

  • 22d: Boy in "The Phantom Menace" (ANI). Short for Anakin (Skywalker).

  • 24d: Thin mint product? (DIME). Cute clue.

  • 26d: Salinger dedicatee (ESME). Classic crossword fill.

  • 32d: Marketing connection (TIE IN).

  • 35d: Myrna of "The Best Years of Our Lives" (LOY).

  • 36d: Ingrid's "Anastasia" costar (YUL). Once I had the leading Y, not much else fit.

  • 40d: Torments (AGONIZES). This is one of those weird words, in that it can refer to the act of tormenting or (more commonly) of being tormented.

  • 41d: Tlaloc's domain, to the Aztecs (RAIN). This boils down to "name some domain that would be attributed to a God".

  • 42d: Where you might get steamed (SPA). Cute.

  • 45d: Cold War prez (IKE).

  • 47d: Tout à ___ (entirely, in French) (FAIT).

  • 48d: The E of S.E. Hinton (ELOISE).

  • 49d: Put back into hot water (REBOIL). I'm not crazy about RE- words, but at least you can boil something more than once (as opposed to, say, RECOOK).

  • 50d: Act starter (SCENE I).

  • 54d: "A Simple Plan" director Sam (RAIMI).

  • 55d: "Leap ahead" sloganeer (INTEL).

  • 64d: Link letters? (URL). As in an internet link. Nice clue.

Suns of Bitches:

There were a few names I didn't know in this one, including:
  • 15a: "Dancing With the Stars" champ ___ Anton Ohno (APOLO).

  • 20a: City near Dayton (XENIA).

  • 2d: Former Secretary of Transportation Norman (MINETA).

  • But the killer crossing for me was the M shared by43a: Massacre site in Vietnam (MY LAI) and 34d: Arthur Gordon ___ (title character in a Poe novel) (PYM). I just couldn't come up with a letter that looked right in both directions.

All in all, not bad for a Thursday. Cool theme after the fact (i.e., it didn't help at all during the solve) that put a bit of strain on the fill, but well-constructed overall, with few real duds and one sticky square for me.

Thanks for listening.

- Pete M.


Anonymous said...

Just when I moan about all the Ds in yesterday's puzzle, along comes one with 50% more of one letter. At least this was for a purpose.

If you're into tornadoes, you might remember Xenia -- it's been hit by some doozies over the years.

Finally, as pizza toppings go, I agree that salami is not the first one that comes to mind -- linguica is, at least where I grew up. It's a Portuguese sausage that could perhaps be approximated by a cross between pepperoni and kielbasa. But I would fall off my chair if it ever popped up in a puzzle :-)

Deciminyan said...

(2d) AFAIK, Norm Mineta is the only Democrat to have served in the BushJr cabinet. His crossword-friendly name may be his legacy!

Anonymous said...

It should also be noted the added degree of difficulty in constructing the grid and fill to have the only I's in the puzzle be part of the sun - the placement of the I's is nifty, but equally impressive to have kept them out everywhere else.

Ruy, LINGUICA is similar to CHORIZO, no? I can practically taste a sausage-themed puzzle in the future...should be a perfect fit for the infamous breakfast test!

Anonymous said...

Tony, you're right that linguica (spelled with a cedilla under that c) is quite similar to the Spanish chorizo. In fact, there's a Portuguese equivalent with a nearly identical name: chourico (again with a cedilla under the second c), which is basically a spicier version of linguica. But while the tastes of chorizo and chourico are similar, they're not identical.

As far as passing the breakfast test goes, I'd be happy to eat grilled sausage for breakfast anytime :-) Too bad it's a bit heavy on the fat and sodium... and maybe HEARTBURN could be the central entry in the puzzle.

pauer said...

"Duds" cut me to the quick, but otherwise: thank you for a lovely write up. I agree that this is a bit of a constructor's theme, but hopefully the effect is worth it for solvers, too. I'll be picking up the answer grid tomorrow, which will appear in color exactly as you've done it. Plus, I'm a big fan of the song, which is what inspired this word baby.


Joon said...

lovely puzzle, and a fine writeup (as usual). 1 bonus point to you for marquee.

APOLO anton ohno is familiar to me not because of "dancing with the stars" but because he's a gold medal-winning short track speed skater, and sporter of the ugliest soul patch of all time. i've definitely seen both his first and last name in crosswords before.

XENIA was semi-familiar, but only because once upon a time i considered it when filling out a crossword grid (i like Xs). i hadn't ever seen in before, but it came up on cruciverb.

norman MINETA is the new namesake of MINETA san jose international airport, out of which i used to fly regularly back when i was at stanford. i didn't recognize him from today's clue, though. i sort of wanted MENUTO, who... i think is somebody else.

both arthur gordon PYM and MYLAI were no problem either. my lai, especially, is super-famous. it's like abu ghraib times one kajillion.