December 04, 2006

Tuesday, 12/5

Onion 4:37
NYS 4:32
Tausig 4:32
NYT 3:14
CS 3:07
LAT 2:59

(post updated at 8:30 a.m. and 1:10 p.m. Tuesday)

Aww. I made a mistake and did Patrick Blindauer's Sun puzzle for Wednesday, which I oughtn't blog about until tomorrow, but I liked it. It was actually a little easier than the Tuesday Sun, I thought.

The NYT puzzle by Kenneth Berniker included a smattering of proper names, but right there at 1-Across, I was stumped by [Soprano Lehmann], who turned out to be LILLI. In the Cruciverb database, this 19th-century opera singer appears just once, in a 1999 Boston Globe puzzle. Aha! No wonder I didn't know the name. She isn't pop culture, and she ain't even crosswordese these days. That corner of the puzzle seemed more Wednesday than Tuesday to me. Ambitious theme, with a 15-letter vertical entry down the middle of the grid plus four phrases that start with 3-letter initialisms. This crossword also happens to pair RADII and ULNAS, INCA and AZTEC, and the confession I AM BI ([What gay men wish Brad Pitt would say?]). Oh, wait...that's IAMBI, plural of iambus.

The Tuesday Sun puzzle by Alan Arbesfeld culls phrases that contain a homophone of a musical instrument and swaps in the instrument. My favorite theme entry was [Noisy lovemaking props?]/SEX CYMBALS, which paints a vivid scene. Also an ambitiously sized theme, with five long entries, enhanced by some Scrabblicious fill.


Two months ago, Harvey Estes included AUTUMN IN NEW YORK, the Richard Gere/Winona Ryder movie, in an NYT theme. Patrick Jordan plays with it in his CrosSynergy puzzle, turning it into a "Late Show" as WINTER IN NEW YORK. What I'm wondering: Did anyone you know actually see that movie?

Alex Boisvert, who has today's LA Times crossword, left a blog comment yesterday about a crossword editor's pseudonym. Several newspapers' puzzle editors often use pseudonyms in the byline when they publish their own handiwork. Barry Haldiman's list of these aliases is here. Alex's theme is great—two 15's and two 14's following the form of THE ___ IS/ARE ___, in which the two blanks are opposites (as in THE ODDS ARE EVEN). I love old words like RAKEHELL, which has a decent Wikipedia write-up.

Brendan Emmett Quigley's Onion A.V. Club puzzle is "What? Me Worry?" It pays homage to paranoid conspiracy theorists and the things they fret about. Major props for including FLUMMOX in the fill—a word I ought to use more often. (How do you flummox a lummox?) Never heard of ["Chunklet" or "Skyscraper"], which crossed a basketball player (is the repeating MVP Steve NASH or a different NASH?) and [Invader ___ (former Nickelodeon alien)]. I guessed at ZINE and Invader ZIM, and they panned out. In the opposite corner, I was temporarily flummoxed by a couple other crossings, having first opted to spell it PUH-LEEZE rather than PUH-LEASE. All right, how many people know Bob Marley's wife's name off the top of their head? At least I was semi-familiar with the STAX record label, so that corner came together, too. (Is this what it's like to not own a TV and try to solve the NYT crossword every day?)

Ben Tausig's Ink Well/Chicago Reader crossword, "Think'ing' Differently," transforms phrases starting with -ING words by using those words as verbs instead of...whatever the term is for an adjective made out of an -ing noun. [The "V" in V-Day], it should be noted, does not pertain to victory as in VE-Day and VJ-Day. [Dizzee Rascal's genre] is GRIME; I'm gonna guess that's something hip-hoppy, but I don't have time to look it up now. And industrial musician Scott KLAY—never heard of him. But years ago, I ran into a former high-school classmate, who said she was doing "industrial dance." Is that more like "industrial films" or "industrial music"? I dunno. Great fill, with THE STRIP, VIS A VIS, DIAL-UP, and GO PRO.