March 01, 2007

Friday, 3/2

NYS 6:05
NYT 4:58
2/16 CHE 4:48
LAT 3:58
CS 3:06

WSJ 9:50
Reagle (no new one in Across Lite this week)

(post updated at 9:15 a.m. Friday)

Eric Berlin's wavelength fought mightily against mine. Maybe my solving time doesn't make it obvious, but this one felt llike a struggle to me. I couldn't believe that I fell for the new oldest trick in the book with [Bug's midsection]. Six letters, it's got to be THORAX, right? No, the SHORT U sound. I usually manage to escape those traps, but not this time. Fill I admired: NO CENTS ([What two zeroes after a dot may mean]) atop its fellow monetary answer (composed of its letter bank, too), C-NOTES, both crossing the related ONES PLACE on the other side of the decimal point, and that crosses A DIME A DOZEN. Also the ORC/ORCAS combo; the sweet CINNAMON STICK crossing a cookie (though I've never encountered a BRANDY SNAP); the pop culture of Ozzy OSBOURNE and FALCON CREST ("Together again!"); and AH, BLISS. As for clues: the aforementioned SHORT U trap that presumably snared many of us; [Handy thing to know?: Abbr.] for ASL; [Blue prints?] for SMUT; [It divides people] for AISLE (though a bride and groom go down the aisle to unite); ["We know drama" sloganeer] for the TNT cable channel (I think it was TNT I was watching the other week, and there was an all-caps branding on the screen with the word DRAMA, but the D looked a little rounded and the R looked a little folded in, and I couldn't figure out why the movie was being linked to OBAMA. Maybe the mind sees what it wants to?); and [Must, say] for ODOR. (Another form of the word must has an unusual meaning.) By the way, the [Adaptable aircraft] STOL means short take-off and landing.

Will Nediger’s Weekend Warrior in the Sun has plenty of Scrabbly letters, particularly in the center where JAQ and ZAX cross. I recently learned from another crossword that ZAX is a character from a Dr. Seuss story I’d never read, but it’s also a tool. I tried like hell to find a picture of a zax for you, but I grow skeptical that anyone has actually seen this thing, a [Tool for cutting roof slates]. As for JAQ, the mice Gus and Jaq help Cinderella. That little intersection irked me. I liked the 10-letter entries that radiate out from those Scrabbly letters, though: In counterpoint to the mean Norman Mailer quote in the clue for BELLA ABZUG, she’s situated opposite SEXUALIZED. Some other Z entries are LAZYBONES and EMILE ZOLA. And indeed, SERBIA grows a lot of raspberries. Who knew?


Wow. For an English major, I sure didn't learn much about Longfellow and I'm sure not into poetry. I can't say I was familiar with three or four of the five theme entries in Annemarie Brethauer's 2/16 Chronicle of Higher Ed crossword, "Regarding Henry"—all are titles of Longfellow (ed. note: Originally typed "Tennyson" both times, had to change to "Longfellow"; see?) poems. [WTO Director General Pascal] LAMY is in here, which amuses me because you know how kids are wont to tease others by finding embarrassing rhymes for their names? "Amy" didn't lend itself to much, but they still managed to come up with "lamy Amy." That, and Zeke the Flavor Freak (based on my last name at the time), the colorful zebra from Fruit Stripe gum. Isn't this a little sad? Give a woman a crossword with a scholarly, literary theme, and she reminisces about '70s chewing gum.

Brendan Emmett Quigley's Wall Street Journal crossword, "iTunes," gathers 10 song titles that begin with the word "I" and moves the "I" to the clue so you've got to work for every square. My favorite was (I) FALL TO PIECES, the [tune for Mr. Potato Head?], although every theme entry/clue pair was fun. Kind of a puzzle within the crossword—nearly always a good thing. The grid's got some tough words lurking in it, such as EXEDRA, which is both a semicircular half-domed recess and a [Semicircular bench]. Never heard of POT ALE, the dregs left over after distilling whiskey; it used to be dumped into rivers, but now can be processed into recycled grain for animal feed. (Good recycling or crappy agricultural practice? I don't know.) I was vaguely familiar with the [Adriatic wind] called BORA. Did you know the European version of the VW Jetta is called the Bora? One ended up in my neighborhood, somehow. Volkswagen is fond of winds, apparently—the Bora, the Scirocco, the Passat. (Good trivia question? "What automaker has named at least three cars after winds?") Maserati stole the Mistral, but perhaps Santa Ana, chinook, and föhn (et al.) are still up for grabs.