October 25, 2006

Thursday, 10/26

NYT 5:46
NYS 4:45
LAT 4:26
CS 3:05

Todd McClary and Dave Tuller's NYT theme didn't fully dawn on me until a few minutes after I finished the puzzle, at which point I said, "Oh! Now I get it." (Full disclosure: I didn't really say anything out loud.) You see here, the four cross-reference clues aren't just cross-reference clues; where it says [See 43-Down], it doesn't mean merely to read 43-Down—instead, the clue is [See ___] where the blank is filled by the answer to 43-Down. 43-Down is THINGS, so 11-Down's clue is really [See things], ergo HALLUCINATE. It was the "see" thing I failed to notice while I was solving the puzzle. You know what else? It feels like there have been more of those "huh—I never heard of that" entries in the crosswords lately. In this puzzle, that honor belongs to HUASTEC; the Huastecs apparently split off from the Mayans about 4,000 years ago (the INCAS appear above them here). Nice combo of pop culture (OTTO, OPRAH, STYX, MILLI Vanilli, THE D.A., and XENA with TV and rock/pop clues), geography (BAKU, THEBES, PISA), plus BEANO. Zippy cluing, too—[Touch and go?] for TAG and [20 places?] for ATMS.

The Sun puzzle by Kelsey Blakley, "Name the Vowels," features (sort of) famous people whose first names end with the letter that starts their last names. Never heard of IRA ALLEN—Ethan Allen's non-furniture-vending brother, apparently—and the poker player ($*#% poker!) STU UNGAR was just vaguely familiar. Plenty of interesting fill, like HOOLIGAN, THERAFLU, LAMAZE, and the poisonous pufferfish FUGU.

It's late and I'm falling asleep at the keyboard, so I'll sign off for now.


In the LA Times puzzle by Dan Naddor (new constructor? I don't recognize the name), there are six theme entries tied together by a seventh, OUT OF. The fill includes both CASTRO and FRANCO, though the latter was clued as football great Franco Harris rather than the dictator. Seeing ELDON, clued as [___ Industries, one-time maker of slot cars], I asked myself if that was the name of Murphy Brown's painter on the TV show. My Googling turned up a term paper ($104, cheap!) comparing Murphy Brown and The Mary Tyler Moore Show. I seldom had $104 in my checking account when I was in college—who are these kids who can afford to pay that much to cheat?

Patrick Jordan's CrosSynergy puzzle is a tribute to the late Steve Irwin. It was mildly disconcerting to see OFFSHORE in the fill, given where Irwin died...and then to see it connected to SNAFU, which abutted END.