(post updated at 8:30 a.m. Saturday)
Well, I still need to finish the Tournament Crosswords, Volume 2, book, and a Stan Newman–edited book (sort of a “best of Random House puzzle books” collection). But the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament is eight weeks away, and I’ll need more books to accommodate the 10-to-20-puzzles-a-day training habit. So I ordered four more books today: the second volumes of Thursday and Friday Sun crosswords, the CrosSynergy Challenging 30-Minute Crosswords book (which I hope is mostly themeless "Sunday Challenge" puzzles), and Trip Payne's Pop Culture Crosswords (because Stella Daily said the Madonna puzzle was the gayest crossword ever, and who can resist that?). Mysteriously, Amazon knocked off the cost of one of the books and gave me another $5 "promotional discount." So I'm getting about $32 of books for under $19. Sweet!
We've been graced with another Karen Tracey crossword, the Saturday NYT. How did I like it? Let me count the ways. (1) Great adjectives: TRICKSY ([Mischievous]) and DITHERY ([Highly agitated]). Words like these always please me in a crossword, in prose, in speech—anywhere. (2) Pop culture: ATOM ANT from the '60s, Eric BANA, JAROD (At last! I am rewarded for having watched The Pretender with my husband.), Star Trek: Voyager's JERI Ryan (who also costarred in the collapse of a senatorial race in Illinois, clearing Barack Obama's path to national prominence), comedian ELAYNE Boosler, past Tonight Show announcer EDD Hall, the short-lived sitcom ENOS, and three unfamiliar (to me) song things, Sinatra's OLD NEW YORK, "I GO for That," and ELENI Mandell. (Wow, that's a heckuva lot of pop culture. Love it! But it's probably angering high-culture snobs—though they get Tintoretto's ARTE, Warhol's MARILYN, and ERNST.) (3) Terrific words, some of 'em with a past-centuries vibe: the plant family SPURGE, the MUDHEN (also called the American coot), ALEGAR ([Sour, fermented liquid]), OMIGOSH, and NONSTARTER (clued straightforwardly as [Dud of an idea]). (4) Geography: one capital city, Fiji's SUVA, and a bit of the Bronx I'd never heard of, THROGS NECK. (5) Zippy clues: [Occasion to reserve a table for two?] for LATE LUNCH (ah, 2:00), [Bank donation?] for PLASMA, [Formal introduction] for DEAR SIR, [Flooring?] for AMAZEMENT, and [Like some connections for SIAMESE (a Siamese connection is that double fire-hose connector doohickey you see outside buildings: like this).
No time for giving due consideration to the day's other crosswords—there's a party at Chuck E. Cheese at 10:00, and one wouldn't want to be late to that! But there's a booboo in the LA Times puzzle by Robert Wolfe. NAPA is clued as ["Sideways" setting], but the movie took place in California wine country further south. Even the Washington Post's movie critic got this wrong: the correction on that page says, "the setting of the film was incorrectly identified as the Napa Valley. The movie was set and filmed in the Santa Ynez Valley and other locations in Santa Barbara County."
January 26, 2007