August 05, 2007

Monday, 8/6

NYS 3:19
CS 3:11
LAT 2:43
NYT 2:37

(updated at 10 a.m. Monday)

If you've ever enjoyed an episode of the The Simpsons and you haven't seen The Simpsons Movie, hie thee to the multiplex! Basically, my husband and I sat there with silly grins on our face (yes, we share but one face) for all 87 minutes, and our 7-year-old had a blast, too.

There was a poster in the multiplex lobby for some upcoming movie with Keri Russell, and I noticed that there's another actor whose name differs from hers by only two letters. You can all figure that out, can't you?

After the movie, we crossed the street to the Evanston Borders store. Worst-organized puzzle book section ever! There were crossword books interspersed with and shelved above the World of Warcraft and Pokemon books, which were on a shelf labeled "Cartridge Games," which WoW is not. So I did a little rearranging, but couldn't save all the victims of disorder. Some crossword books were intermingled with the Jumble and sudoku, and I left them in situ. The craps book and the guide to making your own invitations, though—they simply had to be placed on a non-puzzles table where they might catch the eye of a store employee. And of course, I made sure How to Conquer the New York Times Crossword Puzzle was shelved at eye level...and in two spots.

There were some small books of old Maleska-edited NYT crosswords. The one puzzle I glanced at had a theme of fat-named people, including maybe Fats Domino or Minnesota Fats and...some guy with the last name Gutman? Whom I'd never heard of? With a couple other little-known people? With inconsistent attention to whether the fat word was a first name, last name, nickname, or merely a syllable? Oy. I do hope that all those people who say they miss the Maleska days actually buy a book of crosswords edited by Maleska and make themselves do every puzzle.

Moving along to New York Times crosswords edited by Will Shortz, the Monday puzzle's by Allan Parrish. I didn't notice any cue pointing me to the theme, so I had to ponder the theme entries to suss out the connection. The four long entries and the 7-letter entries that cross right in the middle all end in bowling words—FRAME, SPLIT, STRIKE, SPARE, PINS, and ALLEY. At first I'd suspected that the theme would have something to do with the letter X, what with the pair of Xs in the upper left corner (near a Z, to boot), but it turned out that the Scrabbly corner stood alone. The fill is notable for more longish answers than most Monday puzzles have—MAMA BEAR, a BOATEL, POPPED, and two types of birds who've flown away from the Sunday puzzle's bird theme (ORIOLES, PARROTS).

The New York Sun puzzle by Will Nediger is in a 15x16 grid to accommodate the theme entries for "Look! Up in the Sky!" The theme answers are THE PAINTED BIRD, SNAKES ON A PLANE, and MAN AND SUPERMAN. In other words, it's a BIRD, it's a PLANE, it's SUPERMAN! The crossword's spiced up a bit with some Scrabbly letters, Kinsey's SEX, the merry WIDOW strapless corset, BICEPS, and SNAPE (well, that's hot for Alan Rickman fans).


The LA Times crossword by David Cromer has a theme of epic movies—or rather non-epic movies whose titles start with BIG, GRAND, MIGHTY, and GREAT. This solid puzzle had a fresh feel to it—more words like PECAN and REGATTA and EXACT and fewer like Erie, aria, and Oreo.

In Mel Rosen's CrosSynergy crossword, "Earning a Degree," each theme entry earns a B.A. Thus, a bar exam becomes BABAR EXAM, and a con artist instead sculpts cured meat as a BACON ARTIST. (Which could be an improvement on Damien Hirst's work.)