August 02, 2006


NYT 6:58
NYS 4:42
LAT 3:45
CS 3:18

Well! How about Nancy Salomon's NYT puzzle? It's gone all topsy-turvy with a double Thursday twist: both an [UP] rebus (trickily, the eight rebus squares aren't placed symmetrically and aren't limited to the long entries), and any down entry containing [UP] is an up entry instead, even if it's one of those short ones (like [UP]DOS and ONE[UP]S). There are four long theme entries containing the word [UP] once or twice, and those are in symmetrical locations. I thought this was a wonderful double gimmick, even if I echoed some of the fill (OH CRUD and D'OH) when I espied my finishing time. Best clue, for me: "Giant successes, briefly" for TDS.

Alan Olschwang's "Runs Both Ways" features alphabetical runs in both directions—OVERSTUFFED CHAIR having two runs and the other theme entries containing a UTSR (BOUTS-RIMES, which are "poems composed from given line-ending words" in a parlor game, as in this contest and these examples) or CDEF (STRATEGIC DEFENSE)—though here it's just the letter runs that flip over, not the entries themselves. The clue "Boss's address?" kept me guessing (E STREET), and I appreciated the high-quality fill (THE NHL, ZEBRAS, ZIONIST, TOP THIS—although "top that" sounds more typical to me).

Turning my thoughts to language, and the recent Inuit-or-"Eskimo" flap (in which we learned that up in Canada, the Inuit find that other word offensive), and a several-years-old NYT crossword my husband just did that contained the word GOOK (clued as "icky stuff" or something like that). In my blog browsing, I came across an apt take on the topic from Angry Black Bitch, down in the comments; talking about the phrase tar baby, she writes, I like to think of it like this...if you have a fantabulous apple and you accidently drop the apple in a shit filled toilet, you may still have an apple but it's just not the same anymore. Some folks like to think that you can wash that apple off and still eat it...but a bitch favors tossing it in the compost file of history as a reminder of how language/fruit can be corrupted. Not the most delicate phrasing, but I generally agree.