09.08.07 -- Touchdown!

Saturday, September 8, 2007
Puzzle by Brendan Emmett Quigley, edited by Will Shortz
ENDZONESEAT (18D Spot from which you might see a bomb headed your way) is the only entry connecting what is essentially three puzzles in one grid. Speaking of grids, contrast today's with yesterday's Friday puzzle.
All three puzzles have long entries across with happenstance down fill.
The middle puzzle is impressive in its construction in that it is solvable by a mere five across entries: ZANINESS (21. Marxist quality?) (I had Karl in mind); SPANISHOMELETTE (29. Dish with tomato sauce) (I thought of Rosie Perez); EUROPEANTHEATER (36. Area of W. W. II fighting) (usually appears as ETO (European Theater of Operations); CREASERESISTANT (37. Like Dacron) (a bit of irony here for ageless bachelors); and OLDHANDS (38. Pros).
The down fill for the middle section cannot really be admired -- not because of the fill itself, but due to the fact that the entries are dictated by the long acrosses -- however, the choice of clues for this type of fill is always interesting. It appears the only odd-falling entry was SECO (29. Dry, in Durango); with the remainder being pretty standard fare, which is remarkable -- PURL (30. Reverse movement, of a sort); Cezanne's "Boy in ARED Vest" (31.); NOAH (32. Longtime "All Things Considered" host Adams); IPSA (33. Itself, in a Latin legal phrase); SEEN (34. Not secret); HARD (35. Compact); AMTS (22. Recipe details: Abbr.); NEHI (23. Cadbury Schweppes brand); ILES (24. Composition of some French chains); NEAT (25. Drink preferences); ETTA (26. Editorial cartoonist Hulme); STEN (27. Antique gun); and Harvard Science Center architect Jose Luis SERT (28).
As the mavens of crossword puzzles will remind us, work the short downs to get the long entries across. If one gets about half of them (with their vague clues), then touchdown!
The upper puzzle's across clues are 1. African city with famed botanical gardens; 9. Riddle ender; 15. Yosemite setting; 16. Still oblivious; 17. It has a fast, easy gait; 19. Things you enjoy doing; and 20. Having new tournament rankings. ENTEBBE, WHATAMI, SIERRAS, and NOWISER, along with RESEEDED somewhat negate the need for total happenstance fill. Consequently, in the upper section, the downs fall nicely in place, with the exception of ESTAR (1. Spanish 101 verb) and "I'll raise the preparation of AWAR": Mark Antony (10) -- anytime one sees a quotation or a foreign language entry, the constructor has had to stretch to define the unchangeable happenstance fill. The remainder of the definitions are vague enough, but the words or abbreviations are sensible: 2. Wedding invitee; 3. Wedding rental (very Shortzesque double-clues); 4. ERNIE Davis, first African-American to win the Heisman Trophy; 5. Music symbol; 6. Set (in); 7. "Ah, Wilderness!" mother; 8. PBS station behind Charlie Rose; 9. British general in the American Revolution; 11. Square in a steam room; 12. Bids; 13. A runner might enter it; and 14. Some flawed mdse.
The lower puzzle across clues: 39. Football helmet features; 47. One working for a flat fee?; 54. Has an accommodating spirit; 55. Island just north of the Equator; 56. Advances; 57. Activity of an organism in response to light, e.g.; and 58. Puts away.
The down fill pretty much has the same leeway as the upper in that the five shorter acrosses could be anything to accommodate better down fill: EARHOLES, SAOTOME, MOVESUP, KINESIS, and STASHES. In this section, all the down fill is "normal", e.g., RISK (47. Popular U. S. board game since 1959); ESAI (48. He played Bob in "La Bamba," 1987); AEON (49. It goes on and on and on); LATE (50. Former); EGOS (51. They're big in Hollywood); SEMI (52. Rest stop sight); "TRES Hombres" (ZZ Top record) (53.); ATOMS (40. Things hypothesized by Democritus); REPOT (41. Move shoots, say); HALVA (42. Flaky Turkish confection); OGEES (43. Some moldings); LEASH (44. Canine line); ENSUE (45. Follow); and STEPS (46. Way down).
Autumn brings us football, and ENDZONESEAT, ERNIE Davis, EARHOLES, OLDHANDS, and CREASERESISTANT (for those gawd-awful tights) in this puzzle remind us of the season, along with the style of the grid.
Why is it we wonder that a dog has so much fun with a ball? That's all we humans seem to do -- baseball, basketball, tennis, golf, and football -- hey, and what are pucks but flattened balls!
It's a hell of a lot better than war!
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