December 11, 2006

Tuesday, 12/12

Onion 4:36
Tausig 4:06
NYS 3:46
LAT 3:30
NYT 3:14
CS 2:59

(post updated at 12:40 p.m. Tuesday)

The Tuesday NYT, a joint effort with Vic Fleming, marks Stephen Manion's constructing debut. Congratulations, Steve!

The Sun crossword, "Enter Laughing," is credited to Randall Ha-Hartman, which can clue you in on the theme—a HA tacked onto the beginning of each of the five theme entries. My favorite of the batch was HAREM SLEEP, a play on R.E.M. sleep. Once again, my inattention to the NYC theater world rears its head in a crossword—who knew AS IS was the name of a play? Not I.

Steve and Vic's puzzle in the Times has a BITTER END theme, in which the other five theme entries end with a word that can follow BITTER—e.g., [BITTER]SWEET, [BITTER] TRUTH. (Whaddaya call that kind of theme, anyway? Is there a name for that?) Not that I like to be reminded of the [BITTER] COLD concept, having just escaped from a wicked cold snap. And I know it's a temporary reprieve, what with January and February lurking in ambush. Having IBO clued as [Nigerian native] reminds me—several days back, when the afternoon high was about 17 degrees, I saw a Nigerian-native neighbor emerge from an airport taxi, laden with giant suitcases, wearing a light track jacket. Yeah, it hadn't been 17 degrees in Nigeria. BAY AREA was a highlight in the fill—surprisingly, it's got a mere two appearances in the Cruciverb database.


Francis Heaney's Onion A.V. Club puzzle, "Arrested Development," honors series that, like Arrested Development, got cancelled despite the avid enthusiasm of cleverer TV viewers. I missed FREAKS AND GEEKS, watched a little of MY SO-CALLED LIFE in reruns (MTV, right?), watched all of SPORTS NIGHT (but just can't get into Sorkin's latest show, that one with 60 in the title that has a premise similar to that of 30 Rock), and watched quirky WONDERFALLS for the few weeks it aired. I hear it's being shown somewhere on cable now. Anyway, this puzzle was chock full of stuff I had to guess at (hey, anyone know what the S in SWAG stands for? I know the rest is "wild-ass guess.") CLARA Rockmore? (Hey, that was my grandma's first name.) KOMBU seaweed? (Don't eat sushi.) FIT TO DROP? Don't know anyone who uses the idiom. And I thought I had no idea why [Follower of Jimmy] would be RONALD, but just remembered Carter and Reagan. TATU was only vaguely familiar to me, and I didn't know MOFO was part of a Chili Peppers album title or that TICO was part of a Brazilian song title. Loved [___ pad] for MAXI, ANGKOR WAT, and the mention of NICK NOLTE's mug shot—and any reference to Hammer pants is always welcome.

The theme in Ben Tausig's Ink Well/Chicago Reader puzzle is the most common BOAT NAMES in recent years, every one of 'em a truly lame pun. This theme, it left my sensibilities bruised, and I actually have a reasonably high tolerance for puns. Favorite entry was MUUMUU, with the clue tied to The Simpsons episode when Homer deliberately gained weight to be heavy enough to qualify for disability and thereby work from home, clad in his "fat-man muumuu" and a hat, which, if I recall correctly, had a nautical slant to it.

(As a reminder, both of these indie puzzles can be downloaded here.)