June 11, 2007

Tuesday, 6/12

Tues NYS 4:04
Mon NYS 3:50
CS 3:40
LAT 3:02
NYT 2:54
Tausig tba
Onion tba

(updated at 9:15 and 10:30 a.m. Tuesday)

The Tuesday NYT crossword by Jonathan Gersch was antithematic, in a way—as a fairly straightforward early-week themed puzzle, it wasn't at all knotty, but the theme itself is KNOTS. Namely, the SLIP (OF THE TONGUE) knot, WINDSOR (CASTLE) knot, SQUARE (DANCERS) knot, and FISHERMAN'S (WHARF) knot. There's a nautical undercurrent here, with some knots that sailors might use (I think—what do I know about sailing?) combined with rowing fill like SCULLS and COXSWAIN. And fishermen (like this scary one) might don RAINWEAR. For added value, there are assorted Scrabbly letters in the grid; the puzzle's a pangram that uses every letter of the alphabet.


Randolph Ross's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Herd Mentality," assembles a group of phrases with cattle words in them, such as GOT A BUM STEER. One clue mystified me: ["Spider-Man 3" soft drink company]. The crossings yielded COTT, which I Googled. Apparently they make mostly store-brand sodapop, such as the Spider-Man 3 pop for Wal-Mart. This horrifies me in several ways: "Cott has launched three flavors of the beverage in 12-pack 8 oz small portion cans. Green Apple, Blue Raspberry and Orange Spider-Man(TM) 3 sodas, under license from Spider-Man Merchandising L.P., are available in all Wal- Mart stores across the U.S. The products have 33% less sugar than regular soft drinks and are fortified with eight vitamins and minerals, satisfying both moms and kids alike." Green apple? Duping parents (what, dads don't like vitamins for their kids? only moms?) into feeding this to their kids as if it's actually nutritious rather than chemical-laced sugar water? I wonder if the 8-ounce can has "33% less sugar" than a standard 12-ounce can of "regular soft drinks," or if they've actually cut the amount of high-fructose corn syrup used.

Back to crosswords! Today's LA Times puzzle by Jack McInturff is a tribute to 83-year-old animal rights activist BOB BARKER, who ends his tenure as host of THE PRICE IS RIGHT this week. (Never heard of DRURY UNIVERSITY, his alma mater.) So, game show fans, tell me who the show's new host will be.

Update 2:

I haven't seen the Across Lite version of yesterday's Sun crossword, but solved it on paper after a New Yorker e-mailed the scanned puzzle. If you want to avoid spoilers for that puzzle, skip the paragraph after the next one.

In Lee Glickstein's Tuesday Sun puzzle, "Opening Arguments," the five theme phrases begin with pairs of opposite words: LITTLE BIGHORN, OUT IN THE COLD, etc. I like this sort of theme, the type that makes me muse about oddities of the English language. Today I learned that there's an AMORE brand of tomato paste. (Apparently this paste won a taste test among the Cook's Illustrated foodies, so it must be good.) I also learned that Dean Koontz had a book called ODD THOMAS. Words like BULLDOZE and SPLENDOR don't get much play in crosswords, and CAT-SIT feels fresh, too.

Looking back to Monday's Sun by David Kahn, the theme is "Three by Fives": famous people with three 5-letter names. SACHA BARON COHEN was a gimme, but I definitely had to work the crossings to remind me who the other three people were. Another wordplay-free theme, as I mentioned a couple days ago—the clues are more akin to trivia questions. (I like that, too.) The grid is gussied up with some 7-letter words stacked by the top and bottom 15-letter names, but then it goes a bit downmarket with so many 3-letter words.