March 07, 2007

Thursday, 3/8

NYT 5:35
LAT 4:49
NYS 4:46
CS 3:00

(post updated at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, and in the first paragraph at 10:40 a.m.)

Gilbert H. Ludwig's NYT crossword may be a quip puzzle—a type of puzzle I typically deplore—but I loved it anyway. I even liked the quip. It's a good play on the old saw, "A stitch in time saves nine," and it works as (bad) poetry—the two halves of the quip are each eight syllables, they end in rhymes, and they have similar meter (don't ask me to elaborate—I am no expert on scansion). The non-thematic fill is even groovier. There are 16 7-letter answers and two 9's, and a great set of clues. Favorite nuggets of fill and cluing: [Frenchman with a famous line] for MAGINOT, PRITHEE, [Country of Saroyan's heritage] for ARMENIA, [It keeps things going] for INERTIA, [Nasty stinger] for FIRE ANT, YAHTZEE crossing Steve WOZNIAK, the quaint trio of CHIGNON/AMPHORA/NOSTRUM, [Cádiz kinswoman] for TIA, [Beef producers] for GRIPERS (not great fill, but much improved by the clue), and [Katzenjammers] for HANGOVERS. (Edited to add this link to World Wide Words' write-up on the word katzenjammer, which comes from the German for "the wailing of cats" and meant "hangover" or "the willies" in America before the "Katzenjammer Kids" comic strip began.) Never heard of actress FAY Spain, but I'm making a note of her name for those late-week clues that need to be tougher than Fay Wray (read more about Ms. Spain here).

I also thoroughly enjoyed Seth Abel's Sun Themeless Thursday. It had pop culture I didn't know (ADAM WEST is on Family Guy, LL COOL J had a song called "Hey Lover") and some movie names I did know (Angelina JOLIE's Oscar for Girl, Interrupted, Peter LORRE in Casablanca, director George ROMERO, and, of course, [Cruciverbalist Reagle of Wordplay], MERL). Clues I liked: the hidden brand names in [Edge, for example] for GEL, and [Tribute creator] for MAZDA; [Important 5-year-old in 1715] for LOUIS XV; the collegiate pair of [Its motto is "Lux et veritas"] for YALE UNIVERSITY and [Penn neighbor] for DREXEL; [Telephone phrase] for PASS IT ON; [Boxer, e.g.: Abbr.] for DEM; [Product with the slogan, "Smart choice, great taste"] for OLEAN; [Shot following a break] for X-RAY; and [Tissue alternative for the uncouth] for SLEEVE. Extra bonus points for the cheesiest sportscar of my youth, the TRANS AM, complete with the firebird painted on the hood.


Fred Jackson III's LA Times puzzle showcases Apollo, with four 15-letter theme entries that can all be clued as [Apollo]. The first of these is MYTHOLOGICAL GOD, which brings to mind Richard Dawkins' oft-quoted line from The God Delusion: "I have found it an amusing strategy, when asked whether I am an atheist, to point out that the questioner is also an atheist when considering Zeus, Apollo, Amon Ra, Mithras, Baal, Thor, Wotan, the Golden Calf and the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I just go one god further." I would like to go on record stating that Thor is okay by me, because if he didn't exist, would we have Thursday crosswords?

Harvey Estes has made a ZIPpy CrosSynergy crossword, in which the first word of four theme entries (two 14's and two 8's) can be preceded by ZIP: the phrase "zip through," the USPS's ZIP code, the ZIP file format, and the ill-fated Iomega Zip Drive (named one of the 25 worst tech products ever by PC World magazine).