May 25, 2007

Saturday, 5/26

WSJ (21x21) 8:30
NYT 5:49
LAT 4:54
Newsday (untimed)
CS 3:32

(updated at 8:20 a.m. Saturday—have a great weekend!)

Oh! It's kinda short notice, but I'll be out of town this weekend. My in-laws have dial-up internet service (in this day and age!) and a single phone line, so I will be away from the blogosphere and cruciverbisphere when Sunday's post should go up. Is there anyone craving a chance to guest-blog the Sunday puzzles this holiday weekend? If so, please e-mail me by Saturday morning, earlyish. Otherwise, get out there and barbecue, garden, sit in a hammock or by the pool, take superfluous naps, and enjoy the long weekend! Edited to say that Al Sanders has generously offered to cede an hour of chill-out time to handle Sunday's posting.)

The Saturday NYT by Joe DiPietro reminds me of Friday's by Mike Nothnagel—similar difficulty, similar vibe in the fill (not so "wow, I've never seen that in a crossword" but also a high enough word count not to resort to roll-your-own words with dull prefixes and suffixes tacked on). The most mystifying clues for me included [Fandangles] at 1-Across for DOODADS (Google doesn't turn up a quick demonstration of "fandangle" used that way); [Massen of the 1940s film "Tokyo Rose] for OSA (read about her here); [Brown foe] for STEELER (yes, I've heard of the Cleveland Browns, but I couldn't purge Brown University from my head—I blame Hunter College); and [1992 Pulitzer poet James] TATE (that Wikipedia article makes it sound like I'd enjoy Tate's poetry). Also tricky: [Woolly] for OVINE, not fabric, and [Winter coat] meaning a woolly ULSTER coat rather than frost (not to mention [Come down briskly?] being SKI rather than precipitation; [Ones who accept charges] for MATADORS, across from [Charged] for HAD AT (which I don't quite get); the [Special treatment] of TLC crossing the RED CARPET, a [Special kind of treatment]; the abbreviated PARK AVE. clued as [Fashionable part of N.Y.C.]; ALIS from the Oregon state motto; and the vague prepositional descriptors IN CRATES, ON DEPOSIT, and IN VALUE. Best parts, to me: That middle section with all the S words (SCOT-FREE and SCRUNCH, SWOON and SKI); [It might follow someone] for ELSE'S; the SPIT-TAKE; and a clue for NERTS that somehow didn't push me straight towards the answer. I also liked [Like some plains] for FRUITED for whatever reason.

I meant to solve the Wall Street Journal crossword tonight, but I have dawdled too much while writing this post and ought to turn in soon. More in the morning—


The CrosSynergy puzzle by Mel Rosen is a tribute to John WAYNE, whose centenary birthday is today. You may be astonished to hear that I needed to fill in the fourth of four movie titles before I figured out who the *A*NE actor might be!

Myles Callum's (good to see his byline again—it's been a while) themeless LA Times puzzle had some terrific entries (PASSION PIT right up top, STYROFOAM, LA BAMBA, HELLFIRE). Even better were these clues: [Seer's need] isn't a crystal ball but rather OPTIC NERVE; [Union buster] is the non-labor SECEDER; [Avoid taking a bath] is CUT ONE'S LOSSES; [All, for one] is a laundry DETERGENT, while [One, for one?] is CUBE ROOT (question mark not needed there); and [Singer's employer?] is SEAMSTRESS.

Doug Peterson's Newsday Saturday Stumper had a number of knotty spots, toughest in the lower left corner for me. Have you heard of 1641 Irish Rebellion leader Rory O'MORE (also O'Moore)? I hadn't. And I knew Paul Bunyan's great blue ox was Babe, but he had a dog? Named FIDO? I did once know that LL COOL J's real name is James Todd Smith, but with a clue removing the rap context ([Performer born James Todd Smith]), the answer was sort of a nice surprise emerging in the grid.

"A Fabulous Day for Justice" gets the glory in Friday's Wall Street Journal crossword, constructed by Patrick Berry. I'd never noticed how many phrases in the legal system included such splendid adjectives. Such SPECIAL PROSECUTORS! And a perp with an OUTSTANDING WARRANT! The theme entries are tied together with a short story told in the clues and answers, following a continuous narrative from top to bottom. An entertaining theme, executed with elegance. As a bonus, the longest vertical answers contain words of praise not included in the theme: BEST-SELLERS and THE MAJESTIC.