June 18, 2007

Tuesday, 6/19

NYS 4:44
CS 3:19
LAT 3:12
NYT 2:51
Tausig, Onion—ah, we'll do these in Wednesday's post

(updated at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday)

I forgot to mention a funny thing that happened Saturday after the New Word Open Mic. One or two people asked me, "Which dictionary are you with?" It was a tad disappointing to have to state that I wasn't "with" any reference work at all. (Sigh.) There can't be many circumstances in which a person might be mistaken for a lexicographer, eh?

Speaking of "eh," I liked one particular clue in John Underwood's Tuesday NYT crossword. That would be HOSERS clued as [Boorish sorts, in Canada]. Americans associate "hoser" and "eh" with Canada largely because of the Bob and Doug McKenzie characters from SCTV. AEON by itself is icky crossword fill, but combine it with FLUX and you've got yourself a Charlize Theron movie. The existence of a movie called NICO the Unicorn had utterly escaped my notice. When a city and its 2-letter state abbreviation are combined in a themeless puzzle, it's often a tricky answer to guess; in this crossword, there are four such combos in the theme. A tight theme it is, too—four college towns that start with NORTH, WEST, SOUTH, and EAST. The fact that NORTHAMPTON doesn't have a stand-alone NORTH is but a wee flaw in an otherwise rock-solid theme. The constructor has an ambitious grid design, too, with those 10-letter entries stacked with the top and bottom theme entries and the vertical 10-letter words (EPICUREANS!) each crossing two theme entries and one of those other 10s. Sure, you also end up with AEREO and DYE POT, but it's not the end of the world. There's the shout-out to HEMP as [Source of hashish], after all, and several Scrabbly letters, too.

Bob Klahn (!) constructed the Sun crossword for the day. The theme took an extra minute or two to see: In "The Addams Family," he's opted to add AMS to the base phrases to concoct the theme entries. Thus, "all there" becomes ALL THE REAMS; "reshoots," RAMSES HOOTS; "Delaware," DAMSEL-AWARE; and "used to be," USED TO BEAMS. Tie them together with good longer fill like ROMANTIC, COMPADRE, and WHOPPER and solid short fill, and you've got a smooth grid. Then you add the Klahnesque clues (with perhaps a soupçon of Peter Gordonizing) and you've got a tough Tuesday challenge. My favorite clues: [Digs like pigs] for ROOTS (a twist on the incredibly stale [Pig's digs] clue for STY); the doubling up of Caesar/Caesars and emergency clues for 20- through 23-Across; [Man of gravity] for NEWTON; [Is a drama queen] for crossword stalwart EMOTES; [Shot in the back?] for SPINAL; [Degree of success] for PHD; [Jerry and George taught her about shrinkage] for ELAINE; and [Ant who sings] for ADAM (I think I owned Adam Ant's 1982 album; man, was he pretty).


Patrick Jordan's CrosSynergy puzzle has a theme of things people use their fingers for. And no, nose picking was not among the theme entries, nor guitar picking. VEGANS are included as [People with strict diets], and OLEOS as [Nondairy spreads]. Did you know that margarine often has dairy in it? Hardcore vegans shop for special vegan margarine. I could never be vegan. I love butter.

David Cromer's LA Times crossword has four 10-letter LEADER OF THE PACK entries, two of them intersecting that central 15-letter title. The last word in each theme entry can be followed by the word pack. Best clue: [Permanent place?] for SALON.