June 02, 2007

Sunday, 6/3

BG 8:54
NYT 7:25
LAT 7:15
WaPo 7:05
CS 3:56
Second Sunday NYT (untimed)

(updated 11:30 a.m. Sunday)

I just spent the entire afternoon at a baby shower I cohosted for my best friend. The baby's name will be Isaac, barring any late changes, so we Isaaced up the party. I made an "famous Isaacs" quiz featuring such notables as physicist Newton, pop music's Hanson (one of the three Hanson brothers), writer Asimov, fashion designer Mizrahi, and fictional Love Boat bartender Washington. A friend printed out pictures of the notable Isaacs, including Hurricane Isaac. I haven't yet tackled one of the other games: see how many words you can spell using the letters of the baby's first/middle/last name. Some people found more than 75, so that could keep me busy for a while. The mother of one of the moms-to-be loaded up a bassinet with liberal onesies, such as "future prochoice activist," and a retro Joan Baez/Grateful Dead concert tee onesie. The kid'll fit in great in his neighborhood!

I'm kinda tired out from baking and hosting and whatnot, but the Sunday NYT crossword awaited my return. Kelsey Blakley's puzzle is called "Job Descriptions," and the theme wasn't necessarily that easy, but the puzzle was breezy. My favorite of the theme entries was WIZARD OF ID as the job description for Sigmund Freud. My eye keeps parsing the Leonardo da Vinci answer incorrectly—MASTER OF ARTS can look like it ends with a 5-letter word. The word NESCIENT was unfamiliar to me—apparently it can mean either agnostic or ignorant. 13-Down's [Overlapping fugue motifs] is STRETTI, plural of stretto; another of the many musical terms outside my ken. Very much liked the ["Leave It To Beaver" catchphrase], GOLLY GEE, and the [Sarcastic comment of sympathy], BOO HOO—I like it when a crossword talks to me. Short post, I know, but I'm signing off now.


Eric Berlin has made another "Going Too Far" puzzle for the NYT's second Sunday puzzle. It's a groovy format, because the black squares (which, ideally, you'll print out as light gray squares) all contain letters from words that go too far, and those letters in the black squares spell out a quote attributed to Dr. Thomas Fuller. How the constructor manages to get all the fill to intersect properly with acrosses, downs, and the quote, I don't know. But I'm glad he does, because I love this twist on the standard crossword layout. (What's more, Eric has also worked five Xs into the fill to show off a bit.)

Henry Hook's "Spare Parts" puzzle from the Boston Globe has an intricately wrought theme. Each of seven theme entries has a different letter pair added to an existing phrase, but why those two letters? Eventually you make you way to the bottom of the puzzle and find that each theme entry has SOMETHING EXTRA, in order—the first one has an SO (DO UNTO SOOTHERS), the second an ME (NOME-SHOWS), the third a TH (EARTHLY BIRD), then IN, GE, XT, and RA. Favorite clue: [Saving souls?] for PACKRATS.

Joel Eisen's Washington Post crossword, "Second Thoughts," redefines assorted phrases about thoughts. Thus, a FRANK OPINION has to do with frankfurters, and a dermatologist makes a RASH JUDGMENT. Good puzzle, if on the easy side. The other day, a different crossword had a type-of-soup clue for which I confidently entered LENTIL, but it turned out to be (ick) OXTAIL. Am feeling vindicated with this puzzle's [Soup choice] turning out to be LENTIL.

The LA Times syndicated puzzle by Gail Grabowski had a non-Sunday type of theme—in "No Strings Attached," each theme entry ends with a word that can also be followed by string (e.g., HAM, APRON, SECOND). The theme entries felt a little dry, but the fill's highlights included DIRECTV, MR RIGHT, LA LA LAND, and FREE REIN (it pains me to see how many people write free reign instead).

Patrick Jordan's themeless CrosSynergy puzzle was mighty easy as themelesses go, but packed with terrific fill. ELVIS STOJKO atop a FLICKERTAIL! DOLLY PARTON atop a SNEEZE GUARD! SCRAPPY, SWAYZE, and the Knight Rider car, KITT! Favorite clues: [Like Lady Godiva's ride] for...not NUDE but ANTITAX; and ["Halt!" to Horatio Hornblower] for AVAST. Remember how beautifully the Welsh actor Ioan Gruffudd swashbuckled his way through the Horatio Hornblower cable miniseries several years back?