April 24, 2007

Wednesday, 4/25

Onion 6:51
NYS 5:21
Tausig 4:42
NYT 4:16
LAT 3:45
CS 3:26

Did you hear about all the folks who planned to go to Mexico or the Caribbean for spring break, but didn't get their passports in time? (Passports are now required for Americans flying there or to Canada, and some people didn't plan ahead.) Well, so many of those people applied for passports, the processing time for new passports and renewals skyrocketed. My husband's passport finally arrived today, so I won't have to leave him behind when I go to England on May 6. (Ben's passport has to be signed to be valid. I don't think he can print his name small enough to fit on the line!)

During the two weeks I'm gone, guest bloggers will keep my spot warm for me. They include constructor John Farmer, who's got the Wednesday NYT to his credit, and comments here as JJF; ACPT finalist and documentary film star Al Sanders, whose opinions we seldom see in public forums such as blogs, and I for one can't wait to see what he has to say; constructor David Sullivan, who guest-blogged for Rex and comments here as Evad; and patron of the crossword blogging arts, Barry Weprin, who tosses a dollar in my cyber tip jar when my post yields an "aha" and comments here as barrywep. If anyone else is hankering to be a guest blogger, write to me—I'm not sure these gentlemen will want to be on the hook for three to four days each.

All righty, I need to be brief here (although whenever I say that, I do tend to go on) because the Tausig/Onion pair of puzzles just arrived in my in-box this evening, so I've got four crosswords to tend to tonight. First up, John Farmer's NYT. QWERTY KEYBOARDS runs down the middle of the grid, crossed by three more 15-letter entries (which, near as I can figure, aren't thematic). The circled letters are all the letters of the alphabet, in QWERTY-keyboard order: Q, W, E, R, T, Y, U, I, O, and P are strewn from left to right in the top third of the grid and the next two keyboard rows are strewn in the grid's midsection and bottom, with one or two rows of breathing room spacing them apart. Where EXACERBATE contains X, C, and B, that means Z has to squeeze in to the left of the X, and V needs to fall in the rows between the C and B. I have no idea how challenging it would be to construct this way, but I'm guessing the structural limitations required a helluva lot of rejiggering of fill to make it all work out. And once again, John demonstrates that he's constitutionally incapable of making a crossword with an ordinary theme and layout!

The theme entries in Patrick Berry's Sun puzzle, "Double Y'ed Trailers," sound like babytalk, don't they? Dish pans become [Good-looking flower?], or DISHY PANSY. Patrick has six of these, and I like 'em all. Who wouldn't enjoy STEAMY IRONY so much more than a steam iron? Also like [Mound of arms] for BICEPS, [Hurly-burlies] for HOOHAS (that's got to be one of the best pages in the thesaurus, the one that gathers up words like hurly-burly and hullabaloo and brouhaha and kerfuffle), and [Type face?] for SMILEY. :-)

Okay, I've moved on to Tyler Hinman's Onion A.V. Club crossword, and my solving times are lengthening. Either I'm flagging, or the puzzles are getting successively harder tonight. Tyler's recently been to a couple Cubs games, but I don't know whether he was able to score one of the five fan freebies listed in his theme entries. I forgot what the clue was for 39-Across and went with the baseball vibe to put OPENING DAY in; hey, it's got 7 of 10 letters in common with ONE FINE DAY. (Two George Clooney clues in one puzzle! And David Beckham's used in the CLEAT clue.) Favorite things (so much for being brief): [Withdrawal sites] for ATMS; [Really expensive pieces of paper, perhaps] for DIPLOMAS; [One way to get to the top] for CLAW (I first went for crossword fave T-BAR); Samantha BEE of The Daily Show; ATHEIST; [Bar or pie alternative] for LINE graph; TOO BAD; and the three X's and three Z's.

Okay, Ben Tausig's Ink Well/Chicago Reader puzzle, "Hey!", was more pliable. Five theme entries take on a YO, so G.I. Joe becomes YOGI JOE, the [Average Bikram instructor?]. Queen Anne goes nonspecific as QUEEN ANYONE. Cute! Fairly Scrabbly fill, good fill, good clues, and boy oh boy, am I sleepy now. I've been solving/blogging for an hour and a half now, and I'm beat. Good night!