May 01, 2007

Wednesday, 5/2

NYS 5:04
NYT 3:45
CS 3:40
LAT 3:20

(updated 9:30 a.m. Wed.)

Richard Silvestri's Times puzzle has a New York state of mind, in a way: The theme entries have NY tacked onto the end. For example, a fountain pen becomes a FOUNTAIN PENNY, thrown for good luck. The fill includes SKUA, and wouldn't you know it? There was a passel of skuas in Happy Feet that menaced the young penguin hero of the movie. The skua's Latin name is awfully close to stercoraceous (which is a word that merits wider use: "Dixon, the strategic plan you's absolutely stercoraceous."). The other fill tells a story, the PERILS of ETHEL, in which our heroine drapes a FICHU around her NAPE to repel a RAKE, who had OGLED her. OOH, NO ONE wants that sort of DRAMA, not even the NUNS!

Raymond Hamel's Sun puzzle, "Galoshes," kept me guessing all the way to the bottom, where the last Across entry was the unifying word, RUBBER, which can precede both the first and second words in each theme entry. Rubber DUCK, rubber STAMP, check. Rubber CHECKS and TIRES, check. Rubber CHICKEN, rubberNECK, check. Rubber MATCH, I had to Google; it's a sports term. And rubber GAME? Ditto. Well, six out of eight ain't bad; I passed the test. There were other clues that were complete mysteries to me (1-Across's Black Knights, Lady ENID Hillcrest). Liked [9-3 and 9-5, e.g.] for SAABS; [Werewolves have hairy ones] for PALMS (guess my first thought when I had *AL*S); the Giro d'ITALIA bike race; and SCHMEAR (though I prefer that to mean cream cheese rather than a [Bribe]).


OBESE alert! Wendy at the Rex Parker blog has called for a moratorium on obesity in crosswords, or rather, the ferquent use of OBESE in the grid. While it should be noted that OBESE never complains that the crossword squares are too confining, the word does seem to pop up a lot. It's [Much too big for one's britches?] in the NYT, and [Like most sumo wrestlers] in Randall Hartman's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Grout" (in which the theme involves dropping out a starting GR from a few phrases).

James Sajdak's LA Times puzzle features ___ GO ___ phrases culminating in the colloquial DON'T GO THERE. The phrase is played out and should be used only ironically now, but I still love it as a crossword entry. Liked PARSLEY hiding behind the clue, [Decorative greens], and the other 7- and 8-letter entries (in my REVERIES, ERIC IDLE eats a RICE CAKE and experiences more ECSTASY than a MASSAGE would offer—does such a rice cake exist?).