February 06, 2007

Wednesday, 2/7

NYS 4:34
CS 3:46
LAT 3:23
NYT 3:00 (The applet stole a second from me! I swear!)

(post updated at 8:50 a.m. Wednesday)

It's always nice when one's habits or proclivities are borne out as good things. Case in point: I like to solve the all the newspaper crosswords I do online, either in the Times' applet or in Across Lite. There are plenty of books of crosswords to allow the on-paper "training" that many people like to do in the weeks leading up to the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. My fondness for online solving worked out nicely with David Kwong's Wednesday NYT puzzle—the theme entries are the rows in TYPEWRITER / KEYBOARDS, and it sure was easy to key in QWERTYUIOP, ASDFGHJKL, and ZXCVBNM. I wonder if pencil-and-paper solvers found this crossword to be tough going (online, it seemed mighty easy to me). Moving along to the fill and clues: Excuse me, [It's hard to do with "orange"] is RHYME? Codswallop! My son and I banter rhyming words all the time. Have you ever noticed that LEBANON and the Chrysler LeBaron differ by only one letter? (If you're a crossword constructor, I bet you have.) I wondered if 33-Down, NAGGY ([Shrewish]) was a real word. Google was inconclusive (as it often is), but my jumbo Random House Webster's Unabridged lists it. Naggy means "naggish," and dates back more than 300 years. Naggish means "intending to nag; somewhat nagging." Nagging gets a longer definition, but both naggish and nagging are newer words than our friend NAGGY.

Timothy Powell's Sun crossword is called "I Before EE," and the theme entries swap an I for an EE. Thus, a cow chip becomes [Cattle call?], or COW CHEEP. Props to Mr. Powell for including six theme entries and having the vertical ones appear in abutting pairs. Read them aloud and hear yourself sound like Fez from That '70s Show or a similarly accented character. A summer theatrical production with Meryl Streep is STREEP SHOW. See? Fun to say. I haven't heard [Murphy] used to mean "potato," but here it is, cluing SPUD. (Want some HAPPY JUICE with your murphies?)


Lynn Lempel's LA Times crossword has a BED AND BREAKFAST theme in which the first two theme entries begin with words that, combined, are a kind of bed, and the last two begin with words that make up a kind of breakfast. The theme's a bit roundabout, but I like it. There's some fill with DASH, such as RATCHET UP, SHOOFLY pie, GO-TO guy. Not crazy about SLUMLORDS (or the use of [Ghetto blasters, e.g.] as a clue for STEREOS in the Klahn puzzle below), though.

Anyone know much about the birds and the bees? In Bob Klahn's CrosSynergy quip puzzle, "Mass Transit," OVULATE is clued as [Make eggs]. In humans, of course, ovulation is the release of an egg that has been present in the ovary for a woman's entire lifespan; the eggs were "made" long before ovulation. Is the clue technically accurate in birds or bees?