"Hercules and the Hydra" by Antonio del Pollaiuolo, circa 1475 -- --------------------------------Illustration for 15A HERCULEAN (Formidable, as a task) Friday, May 11, 2007 Click here for LARGE PRINT Puzzle by Patrick Berry, edited by Will Shortz This puzzle has a profusion of confusion -- Mr. Berry’s April 13th puzzle in the Times was on a Friday also, but today is merely the 11th which may have contributed to its easier solution, or not. As I wrote at the time “Puzzle solvers try very hard to give any scrap of a theme to a ‘themeless’ puzzle…. all one can do is pick out what is of interest…” However, this seemingly “themeless” puzzle today has an undercurrent of “manliness” (an attribute much touted last week in commentary of a particularly anemic puzzle in which the blogger gushed over and over again of it’s “manly”, nay -- “aggressively manly” “non-theme” despite its containing La Danse, Jane Roe and a poleax). See how silly that all sounds! Well, if opposites are the rule of the day this one's a PODUNK (41A One-horse town) -- a no man’s land! The man of steel, Hercules, is represented with the entry HERCULEAN (15A Formidable, as a task). The man of tin is the "The Wizard of Oz" Tin Man, Jack HALEY (34D “Heart of the Tin Man” author). The man of wood is embodied by SNERD (49A A big dummy), e.g., Mortimer. Earl WARREN (52A U.S. chief justice, 1953-69) sat in judgment on an all-male court. LENIN (2D His statue [minus the head] can be found in Arlington’s Freedom Park). YUL (43A Ingrid’s “Anastasia” co-star) Brynner flashes his bold and bald “aggressively manly” visage, while PINUPS (19A Ladies in men’s rooms?), DOSIDO (42D Back-to-back action?) and race across the grid like an UNSER (18A Racing family surname) ENROUTETO (30D Heading for) LASTPLACE (12D You’ll find a trailer in it) in TIJUANA (33A City where the Caesar salad was invented, 1924) -- yes SIR (14D General address) there’s an army of GAULS (10D Dwellers in ancient Celtica) here who are real men! The puzzle is so macho that outside of PINUPS, the only female reference is to IRIS (32A Goddess of the Rainbow) who worked as a messenger! FRESHENER (13D Renuzit product), SCOUR (4D Rub, rub, rub), ODOREATER (57A Shoe insert), SICKLEAVE (54A People generally don’t take it well), SNARL (22A Problem fixable with a comb), BONES (58A Seafood restaurant annoyances), SNEERAT (9D Belittle) and SOURSOP (38D Tropical fruit with white pulp and black seeds) seem somehow to share a LEXICON (21D Field-specific vocabulary) of ONEORMORE (17A An unspecified number) repulsive images. No man's land, indeed! For today’s cartoon, go to The Crossword Puzzle Illustrated. Illustrations: 34D, 43A, 2D, 52A and 32D (the headless statue of Lenin is the one at the Red Square Restaurant,Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, Nevada) Puzzle available on the internet at THE NEW YORK TIMES -- Crossword Puzzles and Games If you subscribe to home delivery of The New York Times you are eligible to access the daily crossword via The New York Times - Times Reader, without additional charge, as part of your home delivery subscription.