June 12, 2007

Wednesday, 6/13

Onion 5:58
NYS 4:59
Tausig 4:26
NYT 3:32
LAT 3:27
CS 3:13

Updated at 8:10 a.m. Wednesday

The Across Lite version of this week's Onion A.V. Club puzzle wasn't included in Ben Tausig's weekly mailing, but it's available from the constructor, Francis Heaney, here.

The Wednesday NYT crossword by Curtis Yee is filled with intersecting names—which means I liked it! (Some of you may be less thrilled.) Now, if you've been living under a rock or in a hidey hole, maybe you don't know designer VERA Wang, which would be too bad if you didn't know KEVin Eubanks from The Tonight Show, IRA Glass from public radio, or LANCE Armstrong (surely none of you needs a link for this guy?), all of whom cross VERA's name. Anyhoo, the theme entries make up a DELI ORDER of a BLT sandwich, with GO TO PLAN B, THE CHICAGO "L," and a SLEEVELESS T. (Hold the mayo.) Favorite bits: the longer fill, such as OUT OF GAS and COSTELLO; [Calm] as the clue for AT PEACE (anyone else opt for APPEASE first?); inclusion of MOREY Amsterdam from the old Dick Van Dyke Show (last Sunday's Washington Post puzzle included LAURA PETRIE for another hit of nostalgia); the cross-referenced addition of UNO and DOS; and [Part of a suit] for DEUCE.

An elegant Sun crossword from Kelsey Blakley, this "One, Two, Three, and Four of a Kind" puzzle with a 15x16 grid. Each theme entry is 10 letters long but contains just four different letters—one four times, one three, one twice, and one a single time. One of the five entries, PEPPER TREE (four Es, three Ps, two Rs, one T) intersects two of the other theme entries. Nifty theme! Also nice: the 14 long fill entries (7 to 9 letters), such as ARANTXA Sánchez-Vicario, HAGRIDDEN, and CAVEMEN; [Play favorites?] for BET; [A, for one] for ARTICLE; and [Arkia alternative] for EL AL (who knew Israel had other airlines?). I learned a new name here: LEN Coleman, the new president of baseball's National League and "the highest-ranking African-American in professional team sports."

Ben Tausig's Ink Well/Chicago Reader puzzle is called "Mass Movement." The theme eluded me until I came across 39-Down, the SUBWAYS that tie the trio of theme entries together: phrases that begin with TUBE, EL, and METRO (in METROSEXUAL—great word!). Now, I didn't mention this above in my remarks about the NYT puzzle, but I do prefer to call Chicago's train the El, as in this crossword, rather than the "L." The fill is a bit UPTEMPO, with UPBRAID, FESS UP, and BELLY-UP upping the ante. Favorite morsels: [Talk through?] for NARRATE; [Pupusa creators] for EL SALVADORANS; BIT PART and OH BOY; [Prepares to shoot] for ZEROES IN; [Banks with a show] for TYRA; [Wing adjective] for ATOMIC; and [Lord's partner?] for TAYLOR.

As 7-, 22-, and 61-Across tell us, Francis Heaney's Onion A.V. Club crossword conceals TWO / SLANTED / OPINIONS. Conveniently enough, the two diagonally SLANTED statements are highlighted in the grid with circles, and they read BUSH IS A MORON and CHENEY IS EVIL. Hey, look! They're slanted in more ways than one! A droll crossword for liberals. Highlights include crisp fill (CIABATTA, GAS-X, SAY NO MORE); that nutty John STOSSEL (without peeking at the link, guess his age!) and that funny BERNIE Mac; [Cigar butt?] for ETTE; and an overall abundance of wide-open white spaces for a themed puzzle. I'd never heard of the HOH Rain Forest in Washington, the world's largest temperate rain forest.


Thomas Schier's CrosSynergy puzzle, "On Hand," has four theme entries that are all meanings of the word [Hand]. Did you know that a BANANA CLUSTER is a hand? I'm not sure I did. (I'm not sure I didn't, but more not-sure that I did.) I used to see the name ADELA Rogers St. John much more often in crosswords. Even though she doesn't pop up frequently these days, I figured I ought to know who she is. That Wikipedia link says she was best known as a "girl reporter" in the '20s, '30s, and '40s; interesting career. She also appeared in Reds as one of the "witnesses."

The four theme entries in Fred Jackson III's LA Times puzzle are embraced by 73-Across, LOVE, which can precede the first word of each phrase (BIRD, SEAT, STORY, LETTER). I rather like it that PAPAS is clued not with Irene Papas, but as part of the James Brown song, "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag."