May 23, 2007

Thursday, 5/24

NYT 5:54
NYS 5:05
LAT 4:01
CS 3:25

(updated at 6:40 a.m. Thursday, a time I'd ordinarily be sleeping—See? I told you I had some jet lag)

I am on a streak! Another sleepy evening, another NYT crossword, yet another eely typo! This one took less than a minute to identify, though. Where I intended to have TUTEE crossing ETAT, I had RUTEE and ERAT. (Makes me think of RuPaul.) The puzzle's by Patrick Merrell, and the twist involves counting. 3-D becomes DDD, for example, and the last theme entry is KKKKKKKKKK RACES (10k races). The theme didn't take me that long to figure out, but some things were slower to dawn on me. [Western moniker] is KID (not the most obvious clue for that answer), I'd never heard of avant-garde composer EARLE Brown, [Almost bound] didn't quickly parse as APT, and the very literal [Goes out to sea] should've quickly hollered EBBS to me but it didn't. High points: the Scrabbliness of the aforementioned 10 Ks, [Attention-getting haircut]/MOHAWK, [Mike's partner in candy] for IKE, [Jefferson site] for NICKEL (wow, that should've been easy), those bricks of 7-letter entries at the left and right (including POOHBAH, [Two-piece suits?]/BIKINIS, and the wrestler's SINGLET, a most unfortunate garment), [Runner of an experiment?] for RAT, and the grammatically incorrect but completely comprehensible NOT ME. I am a charter member of the Pat Merrell Fan Club, but there were plenty of blah entries in this one (ISE, OSE, ENE, III, KTS, ERTES, etc.) that dampened my enthusiasm. (Props to Pat for finding LAFAYETTE to work below nine of those Ks, though.)


Tony Orbach constructed today's Sun crossword, "Elision Day." The theme entries reflect what you hear when the speaker elides the "it" in "it's" at the beginning of a sentence: ""It's no problem" becomes SNOW PROBLEM (clued here as [Whiteout, e.g?]). Sfun, but you can't make a theme entry out of "sfun." It took me a while to puzzle through SIN THERE for [Rejected Las Vegas motto?]: Where's the answer? Oh, 'sin there. Love the inclusion of CUNEIFORM; in high school, we had to read about the Babylonian tablets in They Wrote on Clay, which has stuck with me all these years as a bizarre book title. Plenty of tough clues breathe new life into familiar crossword answers; for example, REOS is clued with [Runabouts, e.g.]; ISAK Dinesen is [Creator of Babette]; and IDES is [Middle March?]. And apparently Kool and the Gang's KOOL was bassist Robert Bell. Good puzzle with plenty for the solver to chew on.

Today's CrosSynergy puzzle marks Stella Daily and Bruce Venzke's debut in that venue, unless that already happened while I was away. (Patrick Blindauer is the other pint of fresh blood now coursing through the CrosSynergy veins.) Stella and Bruce's fun puzzle is called "Oh, You Beautiful Doll!" and it features toy dolls from four different eras (though the RAGGEDY ANN is a classic, still sold after nearly a century). The section from 10- to 13-Down reads STONER / TOOK /LAZE / ODED. A compelling vignette, and I believe I have ODed on laze myself. STONER, alas, is clued as [One administering a Biblical punishment]. Given the recent "honor killing" of a teenage girl in Iraq, captured on cell-phone video, it'd be much less unsavory to clue it as [Pothead]. (Bruce and Stella also teamed up on today's LA Times puzzle, which wasn't as fun as this toystore crossword.)