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Cano, Canon, and Cannons

Illustration: 3D THECRUSADES -- "Celestial Light", Gustave Dore


Friday, August 31, 2007

Puzzle by Paula Gamache, edited by Will Shortz

Very little in the way of the familiar presents itself in this Friday crossword puzzle. The canon of crosswordese is left far behind as this construction marches with a salvo of cannons to awaken the dusty corners of the solver’s cerebral sensibilities.

Led by THECRUSADES (3D Fights with knights), this is a STORMY (62A Violent) and ECLECTIC (18A Catholic) TOUGH (47A “Deal with it!“) puzzle that registers a sizeable ECHO (41D Come back) on the RICHTER (8D Scale developer).

Pay no attention to this paragraph, it's nothing more than a squirrel running up and down a foul pole being watched by 54,000 souls under a full moon, but having just watched the Yankees HOSE (26D Spray source) the Red Sox 5-0 with two home runs by Robinson Cano, a double RIP (56D Turbulent water stretch) off Curt Schilling’s RIGHTARM (16A Exchange for something you really want?), Chien-Ming Wang pitching a no-hitter into the seventh, broken up by Kevin Youkilis (who doesn’t stay on the base path, unfortunately), a DOOVER (57A Second chance) over the head of Youkilis by Joba Chamberlain, and Tony Francona going into a SNARLY (45D Bad-tempered) SPUTTER (39A Speak explosively in anger), I knew it was going to be difficult not to comment on the Broom in the Bronx!

Meanwhile, back at the puzzle, Paula Gamache could probably pitch a no-hitter! Mixing fast balls like HUGMETIGHT (29D Short, close-fitting jacket), curve balls, ala PRICETAG (7A Shock source, sometimes), knuckle balls, as SOUTHERNCROSS (33A Constellation seen on the flags of Australia, Samoa and Papua New Guinea) and change ups in the form of PIGPENS (40D Dumps) crossing with DIRTPOOR (50A Hard up), her construction is worthy of a Wang or a Schilling!

With ACTFOR (1A Be an agent of) and MAHALO (15A Hawaiian “thank you”) combined for an OPENER (17A Handle, e.g.), our MADAMESPEAKER (38A Parliamentary address) could ORATE (48D Give a stemwinder) daring all and sundry to LAUGHATME (28A 1965 Sonny Bono hit). Will Shortz chimes in with the double-clued CHEESECAKE (10D Skin pics?) and TAT (12D Skin pic?) like a closer with a cutter! Shortzesque To ATEE (30D)!…but let’s get to the ROOT (52D Lexicographic concern) of this puzzle!

In between, GYMSHOES (20A They might just squeak by in a basketball game) prove not to be SNEAKERS; AUTOS (24A Runners with hoods) perplexes; ECLECTIC defined as Catholic defies any thesaurus (go ahead, let me know if you find it anywhere!); DANTES (37A “_____ Peak” [1997 Pierce Brosnan film]) is here no Inferno; and SPOTREMOVER (25D Cleaning product that may be useful after a party) seems to indicate messy guests!

If Cano comes up to bat against this canon of cannons, he’d better hope it’s a repertoire by Mike Mussina, uh, a little slower -- AMORAL (1D Unscrupulous); CAPITA (2D Pantheon heads?); PRESUME (7D Gather); IGLOO (9D One-room house, typically); ETCS (11D Truncation indications: Abbr.), GMC (14D It has pickup lines); AGORAS (23D Ancient meeting places); NDAK (34D Home of Theo. Roosevelt Natl. Park); OTO (58D Tribe visited by Lewis and Clark); CMDR (35D U.S.N. position); HAIR (36D Eyebrow makeup); DOGE (50D Bygone magistrate); and REDELM (44A Tree with double-toothed leaves and durable wood) -- any one of them could bring a swing of PICKETERS (43A Striking figures), and a FAN-(4D Cool, in a way)-out to AHS (64D “I get it” responses) -- but don’t make a BET (55D See, say) or take ODDS (51D) on it!

Celebrities at the game include OLEG (5D Hockey player Tverdovsky); RORY (6D Youngest of the Culkin brothers); ARI (13D Agent Gold on HBO’s “Entourage”); RIC (19A Wrestler Flair); ARNETT (32D Desert Storm reporter); and
EAPOE (31A “Berenice” author, briefly), all admitted with no CHARGE (35A Club’s cover).

SHH (25A Sound from a silencer), there’s more -- ATRA (22A Grooming brand introduced in 1977); HESS (27D Amoco alternative); DIESE (42A This, in Thuringen); RRS (46A Regulation targets for Theodore Roosevelt: Abbr.) TMEN (49A Catchers of some ring leaders); ODA (53A Seraglio section); ABROGATE (54A Void); HEIGHTEN (59A Opposite of diminish); and STPETERS (61A Cardinals’ gathering place).

Gamache game over! Do the MATH (21D It has many functions) and DOTELL (60A “Let’s have it”)!

Perfection?! -- worth twice the price of admission!


For today's cartoons, go to
The Crossword Puzzle Illustrated.

Today’s Video: Squirrel On Yankee Stadium Foul Pole!!!