August 24, 2007

Saturday, 8/25

NYT 7:09
LAT 5:32
Newsday 4:58
CS 3:38

My friend Amy (not to be confused with me) took me out to celebrate my birthday tonight. The strawberry margaritas on the rocks were plentiful, and the inebriation remains extant. But I tend to find the wavelength in Myles Callum's crosswords, and this Saturday's New York Times puzzle is no exception. There were just enough complete or partial gimmes ([Comic Boosler] is ELAYNE, [Soap actress Kristen and others] is ILENES, ["What's Going On" singer] wa Marvin GAYE, [Roy Rogers' surname at birth' was Leonard SLYE, the [Money machine mfr.] NCR, and Mary and Rhoda's friend Phyllis was, of course, played by CLORIS Leachman; [Pier grp.] was IL_ {ILA} and [New Wave singer Lovich] was LEN_ {LENE}) to flesh out answers with leading patterns of letters to help (when one sees *****DYAN* and the clue relates to a [Little redhead], can it be anything but RAGGEDY ANN?), and just enough misleading clues that I caught the wavelength for.

Yeah, so, I enjoyed this puzzle, but I may have a headache in the morning, and if so, I will blame the crossword. (Nothing personal). Favorite clues (some of which partner with terrifically colloquial entries): ["That may be true but..."] for "THE THING IS"; [When a procrastinator tends to something] for ANOTHER DAY (world-class procrastinator here); [It's built for a trial] for CASE; [Shot putters' supplies?] for SERUMS; [Title locale of five 1980s films: Abbr.] for ELM ST; [Chic] for A LA MODE (and doesn't ice cream make anything more stylish?]; [No-nonsense cry] for "I MEAN IT!"; Stephen [King's second] for SALEM'S LOT; [Diamond, e.g.] for STONE (as in gemstone); [They're thick] for IDIOTS; [Ones going head to head] for RAMS (started with FOES here); [Part of a rebel name] for Robert E. LEE; [Puppet glue-ons] for the delicious entry, GOOGLY EYES; comedy [Routine responses?] for HAHAS; [Response to "I had no idea!"] for "NOW YOU KNOW"; [Cry "nyah, nyah!"] for RUB IT IN; [Engagement breakers] for CEASEFIRES; [Clammed up] for the short and sweet MUM; [Felix, e.g.] for TOMCAT; the doubling-up of [Like some instruments] for REEDY and SURG (abbr. for surgical).

Nice to see the UTNE READER and ORONO, MAINE promoted beyond the quasi-crosswordese UTNE and ORONO standalones. Who the heck is [Italian tenor ___Schipa]? This guy named TITO, and apparently he could rock a hat. Two biblical clues I didn't know: [Son of Elam whose name means "God the Lord"] for ELIAH and [God commanded him to marry a harlot] for HOSEA. Having never been a Boy Scout, I was totally guessing that the [Arrow of Light earner's program] was WEBELOS. I also had no idea that ESME was the [Saki story whose title character is a hyena].


Bonnie Gentry's themeless LA Times crossword was blessed with two wide-open corners hitched to the rest of the grid by 15-letter answers. Phrases I liked in the answer grid: LET IT GO, TOO SOON, WING IT, SHOPS AT, DRANK IN, and LAY INTO. My son Ben doesn't have any K'NEX building toys, but we have quite a collection of Legos lying fallow. Ever since that Seinfeld episode, the Chrysler LEBARON has amused me. Favorite clues: [Demoted, in recent lingo] for the neologism PLUTOED; the misinterpretable [Let off] for PARDON; [Animal, vegetable or mineral] for NOUN (aren't those fun, the clues that call for an answer like VERB or NOUNS by listing two or three examples?); [Starting point] for WOMB; [Fruity quaffs, informally] for ZINS (Zinfandels); and, because I like her, [Emmy-winning comic Sykes] for WANDA.

Doug Peterson's Newsday "Saturday Stumper" has lotsa goodies. Now, ALPHA MALE ([Leader of the pack]) and NERO WOLFE (nice clue: [Stout fellow]) appear in opposite corners of the grid, but I have no idea if they're intended as a minitheme. Is Nero the alpha male of the Wolfe pack? I always like to see Orange variations in the grid (ORANGE SODA here) because, let's face it, I'd have to get far more famous for my last name to make it into a crossword ("Middle name of ex-president of Nauru" is a bit of a stretch). ORONO, MAINE gets classed up with the addition of the state name to a crosswordese college town—just as it did in today's NYT crossword. The last square I figured out here was the crossing of the [Fictional phantom] at 6-Down with the ["Dukes of Hazzard" character]—I opted for DUKE, which, hello, is already in the clue. (Brain freeze!) It was LUKE Duke crossing Jacob MARLEY, of course. Favorite clues: the looks-like-a-verb [Calls to action] for RED ALERTS; [Less windy] for TERSER because, frankly, we had enough wind in Chicago on Thursday, and yes, I know they call it the Windy City, but not because of 70 mph winds; and [Cranium feature] for SINUS, because my kid has a durable sinus infection that seems to be laughing at the antibiotic.

Patrick Jordan's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Tattoo Review," has four theme phrases that start with popular (?) tattoos. My cousin's wife has a small BUTTERFLY on her ankle. And my cousin? A Ralph Lauren polo player logo on his upper arm. Me, if I ever got a tattoo, I'm thinking a 10x10 crossword grid, partly filled in, or maybe a 15x5 grid, easier to play around with the fill.