February 28, 2007

Wednesday, 2/28

NYS 6:06
CS 3:47
LAT 3:46
NYT 2:58

(post updated at 10:15 a.m.)

I don't know what day it is in New York City. Near as I can tell, it's Monday or Tuesday at the Times but Thursday or Friday at the Sun.

The NYT puzzle by Liz Gorski felt easy, but it doesn't look easy. For example, I didn't know the ["Locksley Hall" poet], but guessed TENNYSON based on having one N. I didn't know the [Handel oratorio about a biblical woman], but the initial E prodded me to try ESTHER. The [Right triangle ratio] of SECANT, well, I had a lot more than one letter for that one. The theme came together with the beginnings of THAI RESTAURANT and TAI CHI CHUAN. Favorite bits of fill: JUST SO, PERUKE, EROTICA (a gimme with Nin's ["Delta of Venus" genre]!), FIXIN'S, MET UP, and HAVE SOME. You know, I don't see a single clue for ISIS in the Cruciverb database that references the '70s Saturday morning TV show (part of the Shazam/Isis hour, which I loved; if you want a little Isis nostalgia blast, check out this page and note that the show's coming to DVD this year) rather than the [Goddess depicted with a cow's horns]. Favorite clue, despite its lack of pandering to my childhood: [Eaves dropping?] for ICICLE.

The Sun offering from Kevin Wald fought me tooth and nail. The theme, "Attic 'A,'" jettisons the final A from the first four letters of the Greek alphabet (raise your hand if you know the order of the first five largely because of Huxley's Brave New World) and substitutes a homophone for the letter's name, but uses it in a phrase that normally includes the Greek letter's name, as in "alpha females" (here, ALF FEMALES). Tons of good fill and Scrabbly letters (5 J's, 4 Z's, an X), but not a theme that's easy to distill. Favorite aspects: evocation of pachinko in the clue for JAPAN (my childhood neighbors had a couple pachinko games in their basement), [One nigh to Bangkok] for THAI, Frankie Goes to Hollywood's RELAX, PRENUPS, SOUPED UP, [Pap smearer] for INFANT, [Deep purple] for EGGPLANT, [Catch some rays, maybe] for ANGLE, and [Professional players] for DJS (this last one stymied me ridiculously). IMAC rant: yet another clue referencing bright colors and/or fruit for IMAC, which, yes, it was fruit-colored in about 1999, but sheesh, you can buy one for $34.99. They're retro.


In keeping with the muddled days concept, Harvey Estes' CrosSynergy puzzle, "Think Fast," has a themeless vibe to it (though easier than most late-week themelesses). The trio of theme entries are all 15's, and the vertical one crosses the two horizontals. Then you've got these corners with stacked 8-letter entries (lively ones, too), and assorted other 6-, 7-, and 8-letter words reinforcing the structure. I won't even tell you what sort of lively entries I liked—if you usually skip the CrosSynergy puzzle but appreciate interesting constructions, download this one.

Dan Naddor's LA Times crossword offers an incomplete list of ingredients for Chicago-style HOT DOGS (no ketchup, or course—and ew! The only toppings I like on a turkey dog are ketchup and some potato chips for crunch. Mustard, relish, pickles, peppers, onions? Feh.). CHILI (DAVIS) is a separate menu item, the chili dog.