March 11, 2007

Monday, 3/12

NYT 3:39
CS 3:19
NYS 2:57
LAT 2:52

(post updated at 10:50 a.m. Monday)

Another constructorial debut in the NYT, if I'm not mistaken—the byline reads Kevin Der, and his crossword is pretty smooth. There's plenty of lively content in the grid aside from the theme, which takes five warnings you might see on packing boxes and puts them in human contexts. Thus, KEEP DRY becomes an exhortation to a recovering alcoholic, and THIS SIDE UP is [Sign for a sunbather?]. Elsewhere in the puzzle, there are two dull words, ATTENDEE and HOST, livened up by being placed alongside one another (though the crossings kind of ruin their party: AHAB and the YETI brought plain TOFU cubes; at least the DESSERTS are waiting down below). TATTOO and OP ART evoke visuals, while LET ME SEE and ANYHOO evoke conversation. SCHTICK evokes Yiddish, which ties to HIGH DAY (which I Googled because I wasn't sure it was "in the language" without a HOLY in the middle; Googling high day Jewish gave plenty of examples of the usage).


Randall Hartman's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Send in the Clones," has a so-so theme (sound-alike pairs like MINER MINOR for a [Coal-digging 16-year-old?]), but it had other high points. The past-tense SPAMMED, which is a word we see often enough these days, but it hasn't shown up in the crosswords since 1999 (when Brendan Emmett Quigley used it in a Sunday NYT). [Promise to a chef?] as a non-stale clue for OLEO. Although what chef is using Promise in her cuisine, really? That reminds me, though—recently read that bakers are having a hard time complying with strict limits on trans fats because butter—tasty, perfect butter—contains a small amount of natural trans fats. So baked goods made with butter instead of partially hydrogenated vegetable oils are off-limits at Starbucks, whereas saturated palm oil and certain hydrogenated margarines are A-OK, except that really, wouldn't we all prefer butter to palm oil when it comes to pastries? This crossword—see? I remembered I'm writing about crosswords—also includes SPACEMAN, which is the name of the quack doctor on 30 Rock, only he pronounces it "spuh-CHAY-man." I just got hooked on 30 Rock and downloaded all the episodes I've missed from iTunes. It's smart-funny and silly-funny, with plenty of throwaway lines that are gems. Less whimsical than Arrested Development, but with a similar appeal.

Edward Alch and Eric Platt's Sun puzzle, "Here's the Story..." (the comma is not happy with the ellipsis in quotes, so it asked me to insert a parenthetical remark to give it some breathing room), features the BRADY bunch in three vertical entries. You may ask yourself, why are the adults CAROL, ALICE, MIKE listed in that order? Well, that's where they are in the Brady tic-tac-toe grid, and the kids are also listed in Brady grid order (oldest to youngest from top to bottom). That is nifty. I think there were other parts of this crossword I wanted to mention, but I'm too out of it this morning to remember what they were.

Ray Fontenot's LA Times puzzle has five TV WESTERNS clued out of that context, so [Sudden windfall] is BONANZA, and [Lone dissenter] is MAVERICK. DR RUTH and MAZEL TOV are there to liven up the fill, too.