joon here, deputizing again for jim on this fine sunday. (well, technically, still saturday.) but even if i hadn't told you that, you could have worked it out from contextual clues, like the lowercase thing and the fact that jim said i would be doing both saturday and sunday.
today's sunday puzzle by pamela amick klawitter has a very clever theme described by the title, "chain reaction": each theme answer is a two-word phrase or compound word which fits into a loooong chain of such phrases, and the clue is the two preceding and two following words. it reminds me of a game i used to play in high school called the free association game. you can play with any number of players. here are the rules:
- every player thinks of a secret word.
- one player begins by saying something (not their secret word).
- all players take turns saying whatever word comes into their head upon hearing the previous word.
- you win the game if somebody else says your secret word.
obviously, it's a silly game, but it was a fun way to pass the time--mostly to chuckle at the silly ways that free association can work in the minds of yourself and your friends. but enough about free association. let's talk about ... oh, how about ... the puzzle.
i found this puzzle fairly tractable for the most part, but i got bogged down at the end and it ended up taking me forever to fill in the last few squares... and then it turned out i had made some silly mistakes. nuts. stuff i learned (a euphemism for "had no idea about") today included:
- [Songwriter Carol Bayer ___] is SAGER.
- [Vikki who sang "It Must Be Him"] is CARR.
- [Soap plant] is AMOLE. uh oh, they're onto me--first old popular music, and now botany. my achilles heels have been exposed. actually, can you have multiple achilles heels? achilles himself was only vulnerable in one heel, the one his mother thetis was holding when she dipped him into the river styx as an infant. perhaps it is simply inappropriate to compare yourself to achilles at all unless you really only have one weakness.
- [Channel for interior decorators] is HGTV. i had no idea what the H and G might stand for; apparently it's home & garden. makes sense. the problem i had with this one is i had SAP for PAP(107D, [Drivel]), and could not for the life of me figure out what _RASH word went after BAR and before PAPER. BRASH? CRASH? TRASH? no, no, and no, although i tried to convince myself that TRASH was the answer.
- [Fabric border] is SELVAGE. this was the other area where i had lots of trouble--i was staring at S___AGE and some blank spaces above it for what seemed like hours (actually about four minutes), until i finally worked out what was going on. did you know that salvador dali had a pet OCELOT? i did not. i tried PARROT and then MARMOT. OCELOTs are quite adorable, but i think they're rather ferocious as pets go.
despite my struggles, i really enjoyed this puzzle. it seems to be dr. klawitter's second NYT puzzle, her first being the thursday, march 6 puzzle with I'M IN as the theme. i hope to see more of her work in the future!
just for fun, here is the full theme "chain reaction":
FOOD COURT CASE CLOSED CIRCUIT BOARD FOOT LOCKER ROOM SERVICE ROAD HAZARD LIGHT TOUCH SCREEN DOOR BELL PEPPER SPRAY PAINT BRUSH FIRE WALL STREET SMART CAR POOL PLAYER PIANO BAR GRAPH PAPER TRAILHEAD MASTERCARD COUNTERTOP DOLLAR SIGN POST OFFICE.
whew. i wonder: what's the shortest way to get from OFFICE back to FOOD? leave your suggestion in the comments box.