November 27, 2006

Tuesday, 11/28

Onion 5:15
Tausig 4:38
CS 3:49
NYS 3:42
LAT 3:07
NYT 3:05

(post updated at 8:45 a.m. and again at 4:15 p.m. Tuesday)

Alan Arbesfeld’s NYT offering is a great Tuesday puzzle with a solid theme and racy undertones. The theme didn’t go where I thought it was headed, with ["The Joy of Sex" author] ALEX COMFORT followed by the [So-called “King of Vibes"]—what with all the X's (more than triple-X, this puzzle is quadruple-X), SATYRS, PORN, AMO, and a 4-letter deadly sin (ENVY, not LUST, alas).

Gary Steinmehl's Sun crossword takes a stab at continuing in that vein, with LIBIDO, but then negates it with MR BEAN, NINO Scalia, and MAO (brilliantly clued as [Red head with a mole]). I also liked [Ape lions] as a clue for ROAR (having just done Hex's Atlantic cryptic with DOG APE as one of the answers), [Started a cigarette break] for LIT UP, ASA being clued in relation to the Buchanan clan of One Life to Live, and RENO clued with actor Jean Reno (if you haven’t seen The Professional, add it to your Netflix queue).


Bob Klahn's CrosSynergy puzzle took me longer than the day's other three crosswords, but it's still easier than most Klahn confections (and no, there's no conflict inherent in likening tough crosswords to candy—what could be sweeter?). I didn't notice any soup in the "Playing the Spoons" theme, but opted to read about the Soup Nazi anyway.

Jack McInturff's LA Times puzzle contained a striking density of the words that used to crop up regularly in crosswords, but have fallen by the wayside in recent years (you've got your STERE and SERE, your ALAE and RIA, and, of course, the ETUI). An easy puzzle for the experienced solver, but presumably a challenge for a crossword newbie who hasn't stuffed the nooks and crannies of her brain with these words.

Byron Walden's Onion A.V. Club crossword pays homage to a few winners of the Ig Nobel prize, and continues the mockery theme with Jennifer LOPEZ, winner of a Razzie award for lousy acting. Astonishingly, there appears to be a U.S. patent on the COMBOVER HAIR concept, despite the innate badness of the idea (viz. these photos of men with hair I'd like to see in the shower—you know, with a floppy 8-inch swath of hair draped over one ear and the lack of hair on the opposite side). Entertaining combos of entries, with GOOP crossing GUAC and UVULA crossing BUNION (I like to call my mom's biggest bunion "Paul"). Favorite clues included [Left behind?] for WILLED, [Kvetchphrase?] for OY VEY. Good three-word fill, with FELL BACK ON and UP THE ANTE, not to mention BOING.

Ben Tausig's Ink Well/Chicago Reader crossword is called "TriPod," and the three theme entries begin with types of iPods. Fun fill and clues, as usual, with the Springfield ISOTOPES baseball team from The Simpsons, GANGSTA rap, and the [Turned-on turn-on], VIBRATOR. I wasn't familiar with the [Sid Meier video game series] CIV, now in the Civilization IV incarnation, and never would've gotten it if I hadn't figured out that [Wrigley stuff] referred to the baseball field (with bricks 'n' IVY and a lousy record most seasons) rather than the chewing gum company.