May 02, 2007

Thursday, 5/3

NYS 5:59
LAT 4:23
CS 3:42
NYT 3:38
Jonesin' 3:25

(updated Thursday at 9:15 a.m. and 5 p.m. for Jonesin')

Karen Tracey's Themeless Thursday felt a little harder than most Themeless Thursdays in the Sun. It's got some of Karen's trademark Scrabbliciousness (including the central entry, DJANGO REINHARDT, and numerous Xs, Js, Ks, and Vs). Did you know that ARTE Johnson not only is still alive (at 78), but gets audiobook work (and not just for the Dave Barry books mentioned in the clue) these days? Another crossword stalwart, OLIO, gets freshened up with the clue, [Aceto's partner in Italian salad dressings]. (Did you know the etymology of oil traces back to "olive"? Olive oil is the queen of the edible oils, to be sure.) Other highlights: [Round house?] for TAVERN; [High jumper?] for SKYDIVER; NEOPHYTE; [Base in which 48,879 is BEEF] for HEX (truly, I don't have a clue how that works); [Krusty the Clown's father, for example] for RABBI; [Birdbrained] for ADDLEPATED (love that word!); Wimbledon winner Goran IVANISEVIC (gosh, does this picture ever look Photoshopped); and [Eightball starter] for BREAK.

I'm not sure why Richard Chisholm's NYT crossword is running on a Thursday rather than a Wednesday—it doesn't have a gimmick (other than putting the shared clue for the theme entries within the grid) and it didn't seem Thursday-tough. My favorite of the three PARTY / LINEs is OLD PHONE SERVICE—my grandparents had a party line when I was a kid, when their phone prefix that began with a 43 was called HEMLOCK (based on the H being with the 4 and E with 3). I doubt anyone younger than me has experienced this outside of bizarre crossings of the wires. HAVE WE MET BEFORE might be a pickup line, but are pickup lines ever called "party lines"? Not so much. I had a hard time figuring out the end of 19-Across, POLITICAL SCRIPT—the phrase didn't resonate, so I Googled it (within quotes) and got fewer than 600 hits. Is the phrase bandied about on the cable news channels or something? I seldom watch those channels, so I wouldn't know. [The second of January?] had me addlepated for far too long before the crossings nudged me towards the SHORT A sound. I don't think of a CROCUS as a [Long-tubed flower], but the Britannica Concise Encyclopedia says, "The spring-flowering sorts have a floral tube so long that the ovary is belowground, sheltered from climatic changes." Best entries: DIXIE CUP crossing AJAX (which I wish would be clued as the cleanser more often) crossing HOJO in Registered Trademark Corner. And another thing—is a word missing from the clue for 59-Across, perhaps just in the online version? [False] is an adjective, IDOL a noun.


Hardcore pun lovers, head to Sarah Keller's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Shady Ladies."

Dave Mackey's LA Times crossword lists series of ___ guys and ___ dolls in the theme entries. In this freighted language, you'll note that "guys" can be all sorts of positive types of people, while "dolls" I'm glad that women aren't referred to as "dolls" much these days (and when they are, if the speaker isn't being hipster-ironic and isn't over 75 years of age, then he may be a troglodyte)."She's a real STAND-UP doll"? "Karen's my GO-TO doll"? "Aw, he's a BABY guy"? This is no slam on Dave's puzzle—just on the bias built into the English language. And hooray for AJAX being stripped of its classical connotations and being clued as ["Stronger than dirt!" cleanser]; I just want the cleanser clue every so often.

Easy Jonesin':

This week's Jonesin' puzzle by Matt Jones, "The Final Kurtin," is child's play for anyone who's read Kurt Vonnegut's best-known novels and retained a few key names: GOD BLESS YOU / MR ROSEWATER, ICE-NINE, BILLY PILGRIM, and KILGORE TROUT. The theme entries are elegantly pulled together with the latter three entries abutting one another in the center of the grid. TPIR isn't a familiar abbreviation, but eminently gettable if you know Bob Barker as the longtime host of The Price Is Right; IIIIOO, clued as [60, in binary] doesn't do anything for me, but if you know the Vonnegut names that cross it, it doesn't matter. Liked ADOBOS clued as [Philippine meat dishes]; STAUNCH, CONNIVE, and EYETOOTH; ["___ arigato, Mr. Roboto"] for DOMO; and [Revolver's hiding place in "Foxy Brown"/ for AFRO. Oh, here's LEET (a.k.a. L33T), which I didn't notice while solving, clued as [Internet writing system that popularized "pwn3d"].