March 19, 2007

Tuesday, 3/20

NYS 4:31
Tausig 4:18
Onion 4:11
LAT 3:31
CS 3:05
NYT 2:47

(updated at 9:15 a.m. Tuesday)

Quick post tonight—

Laura Halper's NYT crossword plays a homophone game with a- verbs paired with A [noun or name], as in ACCRUE A CREW. If the fill hadn't worked out with one of the vertical theme entries, perhaps ABASE A BASS ([Humiliate Ezio Pinza?]) could have filled in. Not quite sure that AMAZE A MAYS really works, given that Willie Mays is the only famous Mays, so "A MAYS" falls wide of the mark. But I like the vertical 8-letter fill words (POLKA DOT in the SHOWROOM), and the SLUGS/GIZMO crossing amuses me for whatever reason.

Patrick Blindauer's Sun puzzle, "Nixed Doubles," halves a double letter in each of five theme entries. Thus, Holly Hunter becomes [Sacred person on safari], HOLY HUNTER. Good fill—NEPENTHE (which would make a mint for a pharmaceutical company that could make a legal forget-your-troubles pill), GOSSAMER, and GODSON (clued as the fictional Godfather's godson!), to name a few. Favorite clues: [Word with sugar or sausage] for BLOOD (hard to find a more troubling food than blood sausage); [Tower for the tired?] for AAA (took me forever to read "tired" as "with tires"); and [Sound of one hand slapping] (as on the forehead) for DUH.


Byron Walden's Onion A.V. Club puzzle is anchored by three 15-letter "until" followers: ...HELL FREEZES OVER, THE FAT LADY SINGS, THE COWS COME HOME. My favorite entry was PEACH PIT, the diner where the "Beverly Hills 90210" teens hung out; I watched the entire run of the show in daily reruns when my son was a baby. I learned a lot. This puzzle taught me about NANOBOTS and Pentagon jargon for the CON(tiguous) U.S. [Rice alternative?], 6 letters starting with BA? I thought BARLEY (though who serves up a side of barley these days?) rather than BAYLOR University. Clever clue. And yes, the F HOLE is indeed a [Dirty-sounding cello feature].

Ben Tausig's Ink Well/Chicago Reader puzzle, "What Is It Good For," has four theme phrases that start with words that can follow WAR (38-Across). The theme and title evoke the Seinfeld episode in which Elaine tells a Russian author that War and Peace was originally called War, What Is It Good For ("Absolutely nothing!"). Plenty of really nice fill here, and interesting clues, but I've gotta run now so I won't list any.