February 05, 2007

Tuesday, 2/6

Tausig 5:55 (on paper)
Onion 5:14 (on paper)
NYS 4:45
LAT 4:11
CS 3:09
NYT 2:42

(post updated at 11:20 a.m. Tuesday)

Stella Daily and Bruce Venzke's NYT contains a bunch of apt pairings—intentional or not, I can't say. There are so many, the constructors must've been aware of it, though. Obviously, the quartet of theme entries are related—they all end with breakfast foods. But look at the other pairs: JEEPS crossing UTES, SOUP and ENTREES, two Winnebago offshoot tribes, tech ASCII and SPAMS, ZIMA above the HAPPY JUICE (are my husband and I the only ones who've never heard that particular slang term for [Booze]?), TUTU crossing OUTFIT, SMITH next to the first name of KEVIN BACON triggering thoughts of Kevin Smith, a QUART of SKIM milk (which I prefer to JUICE with my breakfast), the sporty combo of UPSET and LOST TO, and the unpopular corner with IDIOT and NERDS. All that PIQUED my interest, along with entries like SCHTICK and ACOLYTE. One final technical note: Would constructors and editors please quit cluing IMAC with reference to bright colors? Apple's iMac hasn't been candy-colored in years. Here's what it looks like now—white and brushed silver.

Alan Arbesfeld's Sun crossword, "Country Clubbing," anagrams four countries' names and combines them with apt words to generate new phrases. "Tonga" scrambled up, for example, is TANGO DANCING. Either this one was clued kinda hard, or I was every bit as distracted as I felt. (Sigh.)


Two interesting themes from the Ben Tausig crossword factory—Ben's own Ink Well puzzle, "You've Been Briefed," and Brendan Emmett Quigley's Onion A.V. Club puzzle featuring ROMAN NUMERALS people. In the BEQ offering, those people have names in which the consonants could all be Roman numerals—including programming pioneer ADA LOVELACE (whom I learned about via crosswords) and basketball's VLADE DIVAC. The theme entries aren't placed symmetrically, and neither are the black squares (I didn't notice that at all while solving, nor did I really read the clue that specified which names in the grid were part of the theme). Did you notice the asymmetry? If so, did it bother you at all? Me, I'm happy to have a puzzle with good fill (LUDACRIS, SPIT CURL, and BEAVIS), a theme I like, good cluing, and plenty of pop culture; asymmetry's fine in good hands. (Presumably the asymmetrical grid explains why this puzzle's available in Word rather than Across Lite.) Unfamiliar word alert: LEISTER is a three (or more)-pronged spear used for fishing, particularly to stab salmon.

Once they've been filled in, the theme entries in Ben's Ink Well/Chicago Reader crossword look utterly meaningless. OCDEMTIDSLP? Each theme entry comprises a bundle of abbreviations: that's an EMT with OCD WHO ID's an LP. Fun theme! I wouldn't mind seeing more variations on this theme. The fill and clues tend toward the pot-obsessed (24-, 49-, and 68-Across, 43-Down—though two of them don't really refer to weed). Unfamiliar word alert: My history lessons didn't include the STONO Rebellion, but I'm glad to have read about it at that PBS link.