May 29, 2007

Wednesday, 5/30

Onion 4:34
Tausig 4:32
NYS 4:25
LAT 4:01
CS 3:14
NYT 2:42

(post updated at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday)

Ben Tausig sent out this week's Ink Well and Onion A.V. Club puzzles on Tuesday night (or whatever day and time it is in Phnom Penh), so I've moved them to the Wednesday post...not that I've done them yet, but I'll blog about them in the morning.

The NYT crossword is by Mike Nothnagel, whose most recent themeless appeared in the Times just this past Friday. The theme builds on the famous quote by TIMOTHY LEARY (53-Across), using "turn on, tune in, drop out" as the starts of three longer phrases. (My fave: Old-school TV staple TUNE IN TOMORROW. Nowadays, don't the voiceover folks just say, "Tomorrow on All My Children:" to introduce teaser scenes?) In the middle of the grid in Tuesday's puzzle, LEARY sat there waiting for his starring role in today's crossword. Today's center squares are occupied by "HEY, BABY," which seems like part of the theme until you piece it all together and see that 53-Across's clue ignores that entry. It heightens the '60s free love vibe, though, doesn't it? IT'S TRUE. Other appealing fill: SUMATRA (geography!), POPOVER (I have never eaten one), LILYPAD, PUNNY, and WHEW.

In the Sun crossword by Gary Steinmehl, "Beach Boys" are (semi-)famous men whose last names start with beachy words: SAND, SEA, TAN, and SHELL. (Too bad John Sununu's name has an infelicitous letter count.) Didn't know the Buzzcocks singer, PETE SHELLEY, have heard of tennis player ROSCOE TANNER, have not seen all the films in ADAM SANDLER's oeuvre, and have shunned most of STEVEN SEAGAL's movies (though my mother-in-law used to have a major crush on Seagal). A few entries perched on the tip of my mental tongue for too long—ZESTA crackers, an UPSWEEP hairdo. ESPIALS and RAGBAGS were also slow to dawn. Best clue: [Break check?] for X-RAY. Vocabulary-stretching clue: [Minatory statement] for THREAT. I confess I looked up the word.


Brendan Emmett Quigley's Onion A.V. Club puzzle has a CLIMATE CHANGE theme in which four seasonal phrases advance one season, so that a "fall guy" becomes WINTER GUY. At the top and bottom of the grid, 13-letter theme entries are stacked (with a one-square offset); impressively, there are four longish (7 to 9 letters) answers crossing those stacks, with lively bits like the BUSHMEN of The Gods Must Be Crazy and BYE FOR NOW. While I commend the sentiment in the clue for TROJAN, [One-night stand necessity], sheesh, it's not like that's the only condom brand out there.

Typing the word answer in that paragraph made me wonder why there's a silent W in it. Because it comes from the Anglo-Saxon andswaru, that's why. I Googled andswaru, and was surprised to see that the first page of search results were for baby (and dog) names. Makes for an unusual girl's name, but for a dog? Shouting "Answer!" at a dog just seems like setting yourself up for disappointment.

Ben Tausig's Ink Well/Chicago Reader crossword, "Drug Combinations," pairs 10 slang terms for drugs to make five theme entries. I didn't quite recognize DANK, but the rest made sense to me. (This is not an admission of any kind.) I liked the druggy mislead of [PCP providers?] for HMOS; the proximity of SNORE to APNEA; the Scrabbliness of the fill (XBOX, XANAX, SKULK, REX, IRAQI, etc.); UTERO clued as [Nirvana's "In ___"]; JERRY clued in relation to Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead, not far in the grid from [So-called "Hippie Chocolate"].

Bill Ballard's LA Times puzzle has six terms clued as [No-sweat job]. I have never once referred to anything as DUCK SOUP, a TURKEY SHOOT, or a LEADPIPE CINCH, but English has a colorful idiom, no?

Thomas Schier's CrosSynergy crossword compiles four kinds of LOTs (65-Down) at the beginnings of the theme entries.