Perpetual Motion

New York Times, May 24

Who the hell is JOHN WALLIS?

That was my question after his name appeared as the answer to 29 Down (“See note”) using letters from the crossing clues. The “note” referred to in the clue was a Will Shortz special, indicating this puzzle was a twofer: A crossword with a bonus connect-the-dots type image.

The theme clues — represented by asterisks — all contained references to the infinite: WORLD WITHOUT END, DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER, ALWAYS MINE, HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL and EVERLASTING LOVE.
In turn, that helped me figure out what the connect-the-dots shape was: SYMBOL OF INFINITY. That’s spelled out in the circled squares, starting at the end of 57 Across, by traveling counter-clockwise in a continuous line (as explained in the note). Though the shape was faintly identifiable by looking at the arrangement of the circled squares in the blank grid, it was still quite an a-ha! moment to have figured it out.

Now I know what John Wallis invented: the sideways “8” figure that represents infinity. I learn something new every day. (A┬áspecial nod to 114 Across, WYNNE — “Arthur ____, inventor of the crossword puzzle.”)

Think that catches me up on the puzzles I missed while I was a gone.

Questions or comments? Twitter me @crosswordkathy

Celebrity Anagrams

Merl Reagle, May 24

I dragged my boyfriend to see “Wordplay,” the crossword puzzle movie with Will Shortz and Merl Reagle a couple of years ago. It was all about crossword puzzle fanatics, how puzzles are constructed, why people do them and — the big climax — the showdown at the national crossword puzzle championships.

Understandably, my boyfriend Jim, who has no interest in puzzles, pretty much rolled his eyes at everything. Until Merl Reagle drove by Dunkin’ Donuts.

“Dunkin’ Donuts — Unkind Donuts,” Reagle said, anagramming it on the spot. Jim was fascinated. “Wow, that’s amazing!” he said, and returned to rolling his eyes at everything else.

I was reminded of that this week in Reagle’s “Celebrity Anagrams” puzzle. Among the most ingenious: “JEST, NOT WAR” becomes JON STEWART in 24 Across; “ENJOY L.A.” is JAY LENO in 68 Across; “TRUST ME, SIR” turns into TIM RUSSERT in 107 Across; “ONLY A BRIT” becomes TONY BLAIR in 38 Across; and “LEGENDARY MAMA” (in “The Da Vinci Code,” at least) is MARY MAGDALENE in 116 Across.

I apologize for the late posting, too; I’m still catching up on the puzzles I missed while in New Zealand. I had been hoping to blog a little from there about crosswords Down Under, but they were really pretty unremarkable.

Questions or comments? Twitter me @crosswordkathy