SATURDAY, Sep. 19 2009 — She danced in Tirana / Job for a Rhine surgeon / Oath from renegade / Having chevrons with red tips
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Constructor: Mel Taub
Relative difficulty: Irrelevant
THEME: Puns and Anagrams Puzzle — it seems that puns and anagrams are involved in solving this puzzle, but I'm not the best one to ask, as I would never normally voluntarily solve a miniature puzzle that went around calling itself "Puns and Anagrams." Normally I would pass. "No thank you," I'd say.
Word of the Day: Canceled until real crosswords come back
HALF-CENTURY PUZZLEMAKERS' WEEK
All the daily crosswords this week, Monday through Saturday, are by puzzlemakers who have been contributing to The Times for more than 50 years. Mel Taub had his first Times crossword published on October 24, 1954. His Puns and Anagrams puzzles (of which this is an example) have appeared in the Sunday Magazine since 1955.
Apparently these "Puns & Anagrams" puzzles appear in the NYT all the time, and some people quite like them. I've never seen one or solved one before. Literally, never. I wrote my fellow Blogger, Amy Reynaldo, asking her what the hell I was supposed to do with it. Before she could get back to me, I'd solved it. My wife stood here and solved it with me (that never, Ever happens with real crosswords — much as I love my wife, I don't have the patience to solve real crosswords at her speed ... but on this type of puzzle, we're pretty equally matched, so solving together was fun). My first thought: "So ... it's kind of like a cryptic crossword, only suckier." With a night's sleep behind me, in the cold light of day, I stand by that initial assessment. If you like this pun/anagram stuff, do yourself a massive favor and pick up a book of cryptic crosswords. Or just pick up a Harper's Magazine — their puzzles (wicked hard and multi-layered) always have cryptic clues as their base. Does The Nation still publish a cryptic? Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon are probably the biggest names in American cryptics, so ask for them by name. Anyhoo, cryptic clues are way way way more clever, and precise, in their wordplay, than are "puns and anagrams" — plus, puns and anagrams aren't the only wordplay going on in cryptics.
Take STEAL (6A).
Today's clue: At least it's a real bargain
Possible cryptic clue: "Crazy" singer gets souvenir shirt for a bargain
Now in today's clue, you just anagram LEAST to get a definition of "a real bargain" => STEAL. There is nothing cuing you to anagram LEAST. You just ... do. 'Cause the puzzle title tells you that's one of the options. "Do I pun, or do I anagram? I have to decide, as the clue itself won't be bothered to say or otherwise playfully indicate."
In the cryptic clue, you have to figure out what kind of wordplay is involved From Indications In The Clue Itself. So SEAL (who sang "Crazy" ... and is married to model Heidi Klum ... but you could substitute something less pop culturey like a cute aquatic seal or a rugged Navy Seal) ... anyway, SEAL "gets" (as in takes, grasps, swallows, encompasses) a souvenir shirt or "T" with the result being a bargain: STEAL. Shove T inside SEAL to get STEAL. My cryptic clue is Vastly superior and I just made it up and and I have never clued a cryptic puzzle in my life. The weak clues aren't the constructor's fault. They're the genre's fault. Puns & anagrams, boo. Here are all the clues and answers today's puzzle. I have nothing (more) to say about them.
- 1 — Impudence of a Br. fool (BRASS) — Br + ass ("fool")
- 6 — see above
- 11 — Author in a stupor (PROUST) — anagram of "stupor"
- 12 — Job for a Rhine surgeon (HERNIA) — anagram of "a Rhine"
- 14 — Mien of a crapshooter will reduce friction (ROLLER BEARING) — "Crapshooter" = ROLLER, "Mien" = BEARING, ROLLER BEARINGs reduce friction. This is a solid cryptic clue, though I've never heard of a ROLLER BEARING. BALL BEARING, sure.
- 16 — Oath from a renEGADe
- 17 — What lies in the Seine (ILES) — anagram of "lies"
- 18 — _____ party (golfers' bash) (TEE) — pun on "tea" with nice pick-up of golf swing "BASH"ing a tee
- 19 — Kind of dry (SUN) — 'cause you can SUN dry something?
- 20 — Turned pea in 19-Across (SPUN) — 'cause "SPUN" means "turned" and "pea" is a pun on "P", which is added to SUN (19A) to get SPUN.
- 21 — Group of Irish islands in quARANtine
- 22 — Dead set against being keyed up (SEDATED) — anagram of "dead set"
- 24 — Divided A.P. pictures (APART) — A.P. + "pictures" or ART
- 25 — Tenants of Lords, e.g. (LODGERS) — anagram of "Lords, e.g."
- 27 — U.N. rap added rapidly (RAN UP) — anagram of "U.N. rap"
- 30 — Except having Republican passage from a book (EXCERPT) — "R" (for "Republican") inside "Except"
- 34 — Retro style (EDOM) — "Mode" backwards
- 35 — One who attends school hops (SOPH.) — anagram of "hops" ... did anyone else want SOCK?
- 36 — Swiss toURIst center (it's a real place in Switzerland)
- 37 — Why isn't one done? (NOD) — that is, "No D"
- 38 — Pedro's hand in Oman (MANO) — anagram of "Oman"
- 39 — _____ pressure (cause a jetty to collapse) (PIER) — pun on "peer pressure"
- 40 — Fall guy's protection when traveling (TRIP INSURANCE) — just ... a big pun
- 43 — Where does N.C. rank among U.S. states in Christmas tree production? (SECOND) — anagram of "does N.D."; no idea what Christmas tree production is all about. I see an anagram of CONES in there ... do Christmas trees produce CONES? ... but then there's the left over "D" ... 500 CONES?
- 44 — Reined in nymph (NEREID) — anagram of "Reined"
- 45 — Shabby followers of a bee (SEEDY) — pun on "C, D" ... they follow "B"
- 46 — Pairs accumulated in 500 days (DYADS) — anagram of "days" and "D" (Roman numeral for "500")
Tired ... will do Downs later.
OK, I can't do this. I'll just say that ANITRA was unknown to me, so 9D: She danced in Tirana was toughish to me. I also wanted MIND to be MIQD, despite the nonsensicality thereof (38D: Intellect in 1500). [See that the doctor gets in] — that is my cryptic suggestion for this one. Or are MIND THAT and SEE THAT not equivalent enough? [Watch the doctor get in]? [The doctor gets in your head, so to speak]?
In summation, I'd like to say:
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CROSSWorld
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