March 06, 2007

Wednesday, 3/7

Tausig 5:45
NYT 5:10
LAT 4:02
Onion 3:44
NYS 3:32
CS 3:15

(post updated at 10 a.m. Wednesday)

After Tuesday’s NYT by Paula Gamache had HOOHAS and one of her old Sun puzzles I solved in a book today had HOOHA, I looked everywhere in her Wednesday Sun puzzle for the word. The closest we get is UTERO.

Moving right along, Paula's puzzle is called "Doctor J," and in each theme entry, a J has been doctored into an H. Thus, the Bee Gees' Jive Talkin' is converted into the apian HIVE TALKIN', or [The buzz?]. The fill has a zillion highlights: MACHO crossing CHIC, KEANU crossing the thematic SPACE HUNK, SPLASH, the [Indian yogurt dish] RAITA, and brand names STROHS, NERF, LEICA, and ADVIL. I don't know what's up with the clue for ADVIL, though—[Nuprin rival]? I haven't seen the Nuprin brand in years. "Little. Yellow. Different." Gone.

What the…? I'm expected to know the lesser baseball parks and biblical twins…in the same theme entry? Even when I had figured out that the theme in Richard Silvestri's NYT puzzle involved swapping one famous twin for his brother, that ESAUS FIELD killed me. Jacobs Field is in Cleveland? Okay. It also took me a ridiculous amount of time to piece together SIXPACK for [Beer buy]. (Hey, I buy imports in 12-packs.) Decent theme, plus a smattering of Scrabbly letters.

Ben Tausig's Ink Well/Chicago Reader puzzle this week is called "Conventional Thinking," and it draws on things like GenCon (which I've heard of, but I have no idea what it is) to invent six other "cons" by swapping word halves. Poets might attend VERSECON (converse), while the spelunkers gather at CAVECON. Given that the theme entries all end with CON, you'd think the puzzle would fly, and yet it took me a long time. My first wrong turn was LINENS instead of LIQUOR cabinets, and I crashed and burned on the two of the bands—POSIES, not PIXIES, and SWV (Sisters With Voices). Clues I liked: [George or Bill] for CLINTON, [Common action movie effect] for FIREBALL, and [Records, slangily] for WAX. Oh, you know what else threw me a curveball? Having BHAT spelled like that rather than BAHT. That's a flat-out error, isn't it? Between BHAT and trying SLUDGE instead of STENCH for [Sewage treatment plant output], that corner fought me.

Deb Amlen's Onion A.V. Club crossword, "On My Nerves," uses a trio of nervousness-related words in puns like ROAD WORRIER ([Film where Mad Max frets about the gas shortage?]. Speaking of postapocalyptic movies, the clue for EDDY is the sound-alike [Water whirled?], and APES are [Cornelius and Dr. Zaius, e.g.]. Continuing with the postapocalyptic theme, there are many who would watch Michael Flatley (who's in the clue for the theme entry at 20-Across) only if hell froze over.


Thomas Schier's CrosSynergy crossword, "Cartoonist Animators Extraordinaire," pays tribute to HANNA-BARBERA cartoons, with divided entries providing two two-word cartoon names plus two one-word cartoon names. I'm guessing Schier constructed this puzzle as an homage after Joseph BARBERA's death last December. Ah, cartoons of my childhood; ah, nostalgia-inducing output of the Hanna-Barbera studio. The Wikipedia link in this paragraph lists their many shows—the '60s shows are the ones I remember best. Magilla Gorilla! Banana Splits! Atom Ant! And also the four shows included in the crossword.

The key to the theme in Jack McInturff's LA Times puzzle is found at 67-Across—[Word that can precede the first word of] the five theme entries. The grid's a bit krunchy, with eight K's scattered throughout, and there are also nine entries with a double-E—a subliminal "Eek!" groove? Nice bit of synchronicity today—the NYT puzzle clued VEE as [Skein formation], and the LA Times puzzle clues SKEIN as [Flock in flight]. According to this listing, "a skein of geese" is the collective term for geese in general or geese in flight (in V formation, they're a wedge; on the water, a gaggle). A cauldron of raptors; a clamour of rooks; a parliament of owls.