(post updated at 9:15 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Tuesday)
We moved our clocks ahead an hour yesterday (and—gotta love technology!—more than half the things in my house that display the time updated themselves), but it appears that the New York Times' applet server in the Netherlands didn't get the memo. I'm guessing the puzzle will show up at 10 Central, 11 Eastern, but I'm not waiting. I was in bed before 9 the last two nights (I'm not dreadfully ill, no, but sick all the same), so I'll catch up with the NYT crossword Tuesday morning.
The week's Sun puzzles have been posted, though, so this blog features the one-woman show that is Kelsey Blakley's Sun crossword, "Beginning to End." (Yes, I know Peter Gordon often works closely with the Sun constructors, yadda yadda.) This puzzle has a syllable flip-flop theme with things like NASSAU SAUNAS and TICTAC TACTIC. Try as I might, I can't think of any other words that would lend themselves to this theme; can you? SINBAD BAD SIN doesn't quite work. Good fill—those MUSCLE CARS are a DIME A DOZEN. TRUE GRIT (surely I'm not the only one who can scarcely differentiate between John Wayne's Rooster Cogburn and the cartoon rooster Foghorn Leghorn?) combined with REDNECK and AMARILLO. Three Z's and an X. And multiple entries that did not exist in Maleska's day—ZIMA! PIXAR! BLOGS!
Holden Baker's NYT crossword unifies five IRISH COUNTIES of the Republic of Ireland and two counties in British-held Northern Ireland. (And no, the counties are not placed in geographically accurate spots in the grid). Three of the counties are the first or last word in a phrase, and four stand alone in the corners of the grid; all are clued in other contexts without reference to Ireland. The puzzle's back to early-week easiness, after the Monday puzzle was harder than usual. Yes, I like hard puzzles, but more so when I expect them to be tough; it's a little jarring when the difficulty level lands wide of the (usually so well-calibrated) mark, isn't it?
Ben Tausig's Ink Well/Chicago Reader puzzle, "The Brand Wagon," features trademarked product names that have morphed into more generic nouns via GENERICIDE. (By the way, if you haven't done the puzzle in Across Lite already, you're going to need to tweak the layout to display the loooong clues.) The theme answers aren't just the long Across entries—5-, 13-, and 45-Down are also clued accordingly. And I'll bet that OREO and ICEE have both been used to describe sandwich cookies and slushy drinks of other brands. Favorite clue: [Get shots all over?] for BARHOP. Shiny new entry: the not-yet-released Apple IPHONE (or iPhone).
Francis Heaney's Onion A.V. Club has Francis's trademark shtick of including bands I've never heard of. Here it's the DRESDEN Dolls, and I also didn't know that Paul ANKA was a featured vocalist on Jay-Z's "I Did It My Way," but given the title, it shouldn't have been so hard to guess. And I've heard of Yo La Tengo, but not the IRA Kaplan thereof. I kinda guessed at the OMD one, too; don't know their oeuvre. The long theme entries (a lively grouping that can be described as "things a drag queen might wear") are tied together by the descriptive A DRAG and TV SET. Has anyone, anywhere, ever referred to a transvestite's apparel as a "TV set"? I await a link that will quell my objection to that entry. I also don't like HONIED—yes, it's in the dictionary, but is honeyed that hard to write? Then there's the SIZE II HEELS with II standing in for the number 11, which makes some people cranky. On the plus side, I like FRONTED (as in a band), PB AND J, a pair of 11-letter vertical fill entries, and the way [Kennebec River city] put me in mind of Kennebunkport and Maine rather than AUGUSTA, Georgia. But wait: It's AUGUSTA, Maine, which may be the state capital but has a population of under 20,000.
March 12, 2007