Kamis, 13 Januari 2011

01.13 Thu

January 13, 2011
John Lampkin

Theme: Dorky Magic Show — Words a magician might use to present the culmination of a trick are anagrammed (i.e., transformed) into words for things unlikely to be presented in a magic show.

Theme answers:
  • 15A/17A: Illusionist's act, and this puzzle's title (MAGIC / TRANSFORMATIONS).
  • 26A/28A: "Presenting: Info!" ("TA-DA: DATA!").
  • 47A/49A: "Presenting: Instrument!" ("VOILÀ: VIOLA!").
  • 56A/57A: "Presenting: Wall hanging!" ("PRESTO: POSTER!").
A few Puzzly Announcements before we get started today:
  • Planning for this year's Crosswords L.A. tournament is in full swing. The tournament will be held May 1. This year, they're using puzzles specifically for the event and I have to tell you, their constructor line-up is amazing. I'm talking amazing as in Andrea Carla Michaels, Karen Tracey, Tyler Hinman, Elizabeth Gorski…. Yeah, that kind of amazing. And if that's not enough for you to get off your butt and over to Loyola Marymount University, I can personally attest to the fact that the tournament is a blast. I was there last year and wouldn't miss it this year either. Oh wait, did I forget to mention that proceeds from the event benefit Reading to Kids? Seriously. What's not to love about this tournament. Head on over to the tournment homepage for a warm-up puzzle by Todd McClary.
  • Fireball Crosswords, an excellent independent series of puzzles available by subscription is getting ready to roll back into existence for its second year next week. These high-quality puzzles edited by Peter Gordon are on the difficult end of the range and are delivered right to your inbox 40 times per year at a price that can only be described as a steal.
  • If you want to enter Patrick Blindauer's Summer Puzzlefest (and why wouldn't you?) you should probably head over to his website right now. Final answers are due February 1, but even if you're not interested in entering the contest, you should consider getting the puzzles. Patrick is one of the most innovative constructors out there today so you know the puzzles involved in this series are excellent.
  • The 5th annual Silicon Valley Puzzle Fest will take place later the last weekend of this month at the Morgan Hill Library. I actually just heard about this for the first time this morning so I can't offer a personal recommendation, but it looks like they have some awesome (free!) puzzle workshops on the schedule for Saturday, with crossword and sudoku tournaments on Sunday.
Wow. Lots of good stuff going on in the puzzle world these days. I hope you have the time and inclination to participate in some of it!

Today's puzzle has a very cute theme, some interesting (and Scrabbly!) fill, and virtually no crosswordese. Maybe I'm biased because the first word I entered in the grid was IOWA (14A: Corny state?) and thinking about my Hawks always get me fired up, but my overall impression is that this puzzle is solid and fun. And even if you didn't enjoy this puzzle for some reason, I think you'll agree with me that it wins the award for Most Awesome Use of Vs. How crazy does TV/VCR look in the grid?? (42A: '80s-'90s entertainment combo). Add to that DÉJÀ VU and DIVVIES UP (28D: Illusion of familiarity / 31D: Distributes, as the loot) and you've got yourself a vatload of very vivacious Vs. (I apologize for that.)

The H-BEAM/RHODO- cross was the biggest problem for me (45A: Aptly named girder / 40D: Rose: Pref.). That H was the last thing I put in the grid. In fact, I had an "I" there first based on the across answer, but RIODO just didn't look right. Not that RHODO looks that much better, but at least it brought flowers to mind, so I figured it was a good guess.

  • 1A: Hand mop? (SWAB). I'm not 100% sure I understand this clue, but I know it has something to do with a deck-hand SWABbing the deck.
  • 16A: Unit of loudness (PHON). That's a real thing? Okay then. I didn't know that, but was able to piece it together through crosses.
  • 21A: Sib, either way (SIS). SIS is a palindrome, you see.
  • 29A: Track figures (ODDS). I was totally tricked by this clue. Kept picturing a track meet and thinking about all the people hanging around and the way numbers might be used. Didn't eve think of the racetrack. (Sorry, Mom!)
  • 34A: Waste time, with "around" (MUCK). If you found nothing humorous about the way this word appeared letter-by-letter in your grid, then you're a much better person than I am.
  • 59A: Mountain air (YODEL). Air meaning "tune" or "melody."
  • 64A: Julia in films (RAUL). I wonder if constructors keep a list of famous people with "two first names" they can use to trick us.
  • 65A: Clinton Cabinet member Shalala (DONNA). When I attended Hunter College in the mid-80s, she was the school's president so this was a gimme.
  • 1D: George Harrison played one in "Norwegian Wood" (SITAR). Yep yep.

  • 2D: In a sorrier state (WORSE). Oh, I had some trouble up in the northwest corner too, where I plopped an "ER" at the end of this one assuming that's how it would end but was, ya know, wrong.
  • 9D: Label for many Tom Petty hits (MCA). Random!
  • 18D: Day's "will be" (SERA). I didn't understand this one until I had gotten the whole answer from crosses. It's a reference to Doris Day's hit song "Que Sera Sera."
  • 30D: Part of R&D: Abbr. (DEV.). Research and Development. But you knew that.
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Everything Else — 5A: Siren, for one (ALARM); 10A: Sound rebound (ECHO); 20A: Playwright's device (ASIDE); 22A: Coincide (AGREE); 23A: Turn in (RETIRE); 25A: Most dependable (SUREST); 32A: Start of a confession, maybe (I LIED); 38A: Louvre Pyramid architect (PEI); 39A: Aptly named lab apparatus (BELL JAR); 41A: Zip (NIL); 44A: Gp. with big busts (DEA); 51A: Holy (SAINTLY); 53A: Experience (UNDERGO); 58A: Approximately (OR SO); 63A: Wood site (SHED); 66A: Further (ELSE); 67A: Kind (TYPE); 68A: Not on the level (SHADY); 69A: Batik artist (DYER); 3D: Be ready for (AWAIT); 4D: Desperados (BANDITS); 5D: Bowling initials (AMF); 6D: China neighbor (LAOS); 7D: Cultural opening? (AGRI-); 8D: Rounded edges, usually (RIMS); 10D: Dorothy Parker forte (EPIGRAM); 11D: Job (CHORE); 12D: Perfects (HONES); 13D: Advent (ONSET); 19D: Stretched tight (TAUT); 24D: Pop singer Brickell (EDIE); 25D: Emmy winner Thompson (SADA); 27D: From dawn to dusk (ALL DAY); 29D: Back (out) (OPT); 33D: Land in la mer (ILE); 35D: Ethereal (UNEARTHLY); 36D: Org. with covert ops (CIA); 37D: It merged with Air France in 2004 (KLM); 39D: Bond girl Ekland (BRITT); 43D: Give comfort to (CONSOLE); 46D: Holy (BLESSED); 48D: Insurer at One Lime Street, London (LLOYD'S); 50D: Needing to be fielded, as a baseball (IN PLAY); 51D: Baseball, for one (SPORT); 52D: Striking grouping (ARRAY); 54D: Sixth-day Christmas gift (GEESE); 55D: It might be tall (ORDER); 60D: "Nice!" ("OOH!"); 61D: "CSI" sample (DNA); 62D: You've just reached it (END).

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