All right, it's on the late side, and I've not yet begun to blog about Byron Walden's Saturday NYT, so let's move swiftly here. Structurally, there's a quartet of triple-stacked 9's spinning around a central 15 that's embraced by a split THEATER OF / THE ABSURD. I took a college English class on "Plays and Antiplays," reading Ionesco and Stoppard and that ilk of absurdist writers. Good stuff, that. The northwest corner goes colloquial with LOST STEAM (a past-tense verb phrase that doesn't end with -ED, because this puzzle wants to be hard and not give away word endings other than a few -S plurals) and "YOU BETTER!" Who knew the TIBIA would be something that [connects to the deltoid ligament], what with the deltoid muscle being at the other end of the body? Yesterday, TATE was a lowbrow TV reference, but today, it's [English poet laureate of 1692-1715], Nahum TATE. The STUTZ Bearcat came from an Indianapolis company and was based on a 1911 Indy car. [Had a cow?] is an "eww" clue for ATE; who the heck eats the whole cow? [They fight to the finish] means MORTAL FOES, who send us to the northeast corner with a little TOPSPIN.
That corner gives us the YUPPIE FLU (which sounds like a rather disdainful way to refer to chronic fatigue syndrome) and the TEEN CROWD (raise your hand if you opted for TEENAGERS first) with that BOFFO company, APPLE / INC. [Recourse?] was misleading because the obsolete verb meaning is "to return or recur," but it's really a noun, and VEER is a verb; but if you veer off, you're setting a new course and thereby...re-coursing?
Taking the HARD ACT TO FOLLOW train to the southwest quadrant, what have we got? [Trevanian's peak] is the EIGER; why? I had to Google this to find out. Trevanian is a one-name pen name for the guy who wrote The Eiger Sanction. I like how HAIRSTYLE (clued as [A cut above?]...as opposed to a cut below) is next to THE BUSHES—puts me in mind of Chia heads. And on the other side of HAIRSTYLE is ERGONOMIC, which is made of three shorter words, two of which are used in crosswords fairly often (ERG and ONO, working without a MIC). Two tough clues for short answers here: [It may be pumped] for FUEL and [Help line?] for CUE. That L in FUEL crosses BROTHEL, clued as a [Toulouse-Lautrec hangout].
Dropping down to the lower right, I've never heard of the Sinatra album A MAN ALONE, but I [Forsooth], love "YEA, VERILY." Huzzah! Rounding things out, we've got a clue a six-year-old could get, [___ Pass (Candy Land shortcut)] for GUMDROP. Like a gumdrop, this puzzle is sweet, awfully chewy, and sticks to your mental teeth (if not your mental ribs) for a while. Dentists may advise against such things, but crossword bloggers applaud such crosswords.
Note to self: Don't do the Newsday Saturday Stumper when you're up past your bedtime and have been fighting sleep. Is recipe for a beating. This weekend's Saturday Stumper is by Anna Stiga ("Stan again" Newman), and it killed me. I doubt it was really 50% harder than Byron's NYT—if you've done both, how did your experiences compare?
Bob Peoples' LA Times puzzle and my brain were not on the same wavelength—the clues didn't resonate and entertain me. (Ah, well.) It's got a huge mini-theme, with two partly rhyming synonymous groups (15 letters apiece) joined by an 11-letter phrase that's something they might say. Although how often do the talking-head pundits actually say "IN MY OPINION"? I don't think they score rhetorical points by framing their remarks as their opinion rather than the opinion everyone else should have.
April 20, 2007