SUNDAY, August 23, 2009—Merl Reagle (Calendar puzzle)

Well, kids, I'm pulling double duty this weekend, because PuzzleGirl and Rex both skittered off to New York for the Lollapuzzoola tournament. The results are posted here. They both placed in the top 16% to 29% of competitors, with Rex vying in the Express division and PuzzleGirl in the Local. Well done!

So it seems that the Calendar puzzle is now alternating between Sylvia Bursztyn's crosswords and Merl Reagle's. I've been blogging Merl's puzzle every Sunday for several years, so I'm just gonna copy and paste what's up at Diary of a Crossword Fiend without changing the formatting to L.A. Crossword Confidential style because three blog posts covering five crosswords is really quite enough for one morning, really.

On the L.A. Times website, this puzzle's title is "New Board Games." (It's "Board Games (the Special Editions)" in the Across Lite version I downloaded yesterday from Ephraim's Crossword Puzzle Pointers.) Here's what I had to say at Crossword Fiend:

The Los Angeles Times appears to be alternating constructors for the L.A. Calendar crossword: It had been Sylvia Bursztyn's bailiwick alone, but now she and Merl Reagle are taking turns. Merl's L.A. Times puzzle is the same one that he syndicates elsewhere. And this one is fun! Lots of amusing "aha" moments when the theme entries came together. Here's the theme:
  • 22A. [Board game where you might hear, "Colonel Ecru, with the riata, in the oda"?] is CROSSWORD CLUE. How brilliant is that? The game of Clue rendered in crosswordese to embody the familiar phrase CROSSWORD CLUE. The other theme entries redefine a familiar phrase as if it has to do with a board game, but don't have that extra crosswordese oomph.
  • 30A. [Board game that takes all week to play?] is LONG-TERM RISK. Wait, doesn't regular Risk take a week to play anyway?
  • 44A. [Board game where you have no car, no kids, no luck, and no money?] is UNEVENTFUL LIFE. The most disappointing part of the SpongeBob edition of Life is that you don't get to amass children and stick them in a car. I kinda miss buying insurance, too. I should get my kid the standard Life game.
  • 58A. VIRTUAL MONOPOLY is a [Board game that's playable online only?].
  • 74A. [Board game for kids that's actually painful to play?] is STING OPERATION.
  • 86A. Ha! [Board game played with no vowels?] is HARDSCRABBLE. I love this one and CROSSWORD CLUE the most.
  • 99A. Eww! [Just about the hardest (and least sanitary) game ever, unless you're an anteater?] is TONGUE TWISTER. Yeah, it's hard to plant your left foot on green, your right hand on yellow, and your tongue on blue.

Highlights outside the theme:
  • 21A. [Cleaner of locks?] is SHAMPOO. Aha!
  • 50A. [Holliday companion] is EARP. If your eyes are like mine, the double L looked like a single L and you didn't understand where this clue was pointing. Doc Holliday, not Thanksgiving holiday? D'oh.
  • Lots of short phrases show up in the fill. There's GO TO POT (56D: [Deteriorate]), LET ME IN (46D: ["Open up!"]), RUBS IT IN (73D: [Gloats]), THE FAUN (31D: [Part danced by Nijinsky in a Debussy classic]), and some preposition action with ORDER IN, TACK ON, and SPOKE TO all in the southwest corner.
  • 61A. MOSES gets a great clue: [One of Charlton's many sans-pants parts].
  • 75D. [TV's "little buddy"] is GILLIGAN.


Draco18s said...


It's a pun. Risk, as in the risk of investing in the stock market. Long Term, as in several days, long term relative to a board game.

mac said...

I have to say I always go looking for Merle's puzzles, where-ever they may hide out. I enjoyed this one, but it is Sunday big, and that is almost always too big for me.

@Orange: thank you for your work, you've done way beyond the call etc. We really appreciate it.

GLowe said...

Thanks, Orange.

How does one critique a Merle puzzle? No idea.

I wonder if a person could ever construct one half as good ....

Wayne said...

@Orange: Thanks so much for putting the Sunday Puzzle up here. It was a fun puzzle but it took me 2 days to do it.

The Sunday puzzle from the 16th was not shown under Crossword Fiend as it usually is so I had to wait a week for the answers. So, I'm really pleased that I was able to check my work so quickly.

Orange said...

Wayne, last week's Calendar puzzle was by Sylvia Bursztyn and the blogging team didn't get a heads-up that Sylvia's puzzles were coming back. You may see it back here this weekend. We may also double-dip on the Merl Reagle puzzle on alternating Sundays—I'll definitely continue blogging that at Crossword Fiend, and we may do it here too.