January 16, 2007

Wednesday, 1/17

NYS 4:10
NYT 3:59
LAT 3:24
CS 2:55

The title of Barry Spiegel’s smooth Sun crossword bears investigation for the non–New Yorker. In “Eighth Avenue Line,” the theme is key words from the POST OFFICE motto, and Eighth Avenue is where NYC’s 24-hour post office is located. Wikipedia says it was the building’s architects who supplied the paraphrased HERODOTUS line that’s popularly considered the USPS’s official motto; who knew? Besides the six theme entries (and who doesn’t love SNOWGLOBES?), the fill and clues were wonderful. There’s GROSBEAK (e.g., rose-breasted grosbeak), KIMCHEE, two [Common deciduous tree]s (OAK and ELM), [Suffers from prurigo] for ITCHES (never heard the medical term prurigo, but it’s akin to pruritus, or itching), DREYFUS, and BELIZE.

Nancy Kavanaugh’s NYT puzzle demands that we GET CRACKING on the other three theme entries, which are all things that can be cracked—SECRET CODES, TEXTBOOKS, and EGGSHELLS (and I like that the crackable things are the full theme entries, and not just a word at the end of each). Best clue: [It may be under a top] for BRA. Who on earth is Tommy MADDOX, though? The clue says [2001 M.V.P. of the XFL]—did you know the late XFL got far enough to name an M.V.P.? (A better-known Maddox may be Angelina Jolie’s oldest son.) SETT has several widely divergent meanings including badger tunnels and [Small paving stone]—Google suggests those two meanings are more British than American.