March 26, 2007

Tuesday, 3/27

NYS 5:28 (really!)
NYT 4:17
Tausig 4:08
Onion 3:52
LAT 3:31
CS 3:01

(updated at 9:30 Tuesday morning))

Wow! I'm really tired. It just took me an unreasonably long time to get through Alan Arbesfeld's Sun puzzle, "Mixed Message," and I'm fading fast. Will be brief tonight. I don't have the touch typing skills to type with my eyes closed, alas. Anagram theme, executed nicely. A few great long fill entries traveling vertically, like OLD SCHOOL and PSYCHED OUT.

Time for the NYT crossword now. [Switching to another browser for NYT applet.] Okay, I'm back. 4-Down in Lucy Gardner Anderson's puzzle couldn't have been more apt, because I did in fact NOD OFF for a moment while working this puzzle. It was over by the Roman numeral...I just rested my eyes for a little bit. If I were encountering the road signs quoted in the theme entries, you'd better hope I was riding in the passenger seat. Could use a little [RC or Jolt] COLA, but it's too close to bedtime for caffeine.

Those of you who are more lucid, please feel free to say something more incisive about either or both of these puzzles. I'm wiped out! Good night, and good luck.


Matt Jones's Onion A.V. Club crossword, "It's Not Mine," is my favorite of today's releases. (I ran into Matt a couple times at Stamford. He specializes in edgier puzzles that your grandma wouldn't like, but in person he comes across as just so sweet. I'll bet that all the grandma types adore Matt and cannot resist pinching his cheek and referring to him as "that nice young man.") The theme entries jettison the apostrophe-S and redefine the resulting phrases, so Peewee's Playhouse becomes the tot theater, PEEWEE PLAYHOUSE. Matt's got a couple longer all-consonant entries: MLK JR and MR DJ (part of the song title "Hey Mr. DJ," which I know only from a Byron Walden/Peter Gordon collaboration). The highlight, though, is the upper right corner, where the F WORD ([The granddaddy of all curses, euphemistically]) and UH-HUH intersect with FUNNY HA HA ([Amusing, rather than strange]) and "WHAT'D I DO?" in a balletic barrage of colloquial speech. (Can a barrage be balletic?)

Martin Ashwood-Smith's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Orno-Thology," has four theme entries containing the ORNO string (including the 5-letter vertical entry in the center), plus a handful of 10- and 11-letter fill entries. Speaking of CrosSynergy, I hear that a new constructing duo is joining the CrosSynergy team—Stella Daily and Bruce Venzke.

Jack McInturff's LA Times crossword uses CALL ME MISTER to CITE Messrs. BIG, RIGHT, and CLEAN. Seeing the word AMUSE in that grid reminds me: If we'd been on the same team for the Friday-night games at the crossword tournament, Michael and I had a team name at the ready: The Reamusers, paying homage to those "roll your own" crossword answers that tack on prefixes or suffixes. Maybe next year...

Ben Tausig's Ink Well/Chicago Reader puzzle, "Hues on First," compounds colors such that a [Clotting emergency?] is a BLOOD RED ALERT. Good theme, plus a couple 8x3 corners, MR RIGHT (clued as [ user's goal, perhaps]—always nice to see language that doesn't assume the default setting is male and straight), and Gatsby's WEST EGG.