September 26, 2007

Thursday, 9/27

LAT 7:58
NYS 4:06
CS 3:58
NYT 3:39

Is it cheating if you're solving Peter Wentz's New York Times crossword online and look at the keyboard for answers? The first theme answer I happened to fill in was the last one, the one that gave away the gimmick: [What is being held in] the other four theme answers is THE SHIFT KEY. Shift [7] is the AMPERSAND, shift [1] is EXCLAMATION MARK, shift [3] is POUND SIGN (that's the one I looked at the keyboard for), and shift [90] is PARENTHESES on the 9 and 0 keys. Hooray for the clue [It's rarely seen under a hat] for AFRO—I saw two people (one man, one kid) sporting afros today, so I'm glad not to see another clue referencing the '60s or '70s. Other clues/answers I liked: DOT EDU ([End of many college addresses]—DOTEDU is crazy-looking without the space); ["Another Green World" musician] for ENO (because that's the Brian Eno album I bought in college); ONE GIG flash drive; MISSOURI; MOLIERE, the [Pseudonym of Jean Baptiste Poquelin]; the [Damned one], ANATHEMA; SCREECH (alas, not clued as the Saved by the Bell character, which I guess the average NYT reader should be proud not to know); MOVE ON (alas, not clued with; [Kind of card] for AMEX; and [Skittles variety] for SOUR (my son and I were perusing the candy shelves at a convenience store just this afternoon, and I beheld this abomination).

Patrick Berry's New York Sun puzzle is a comparatively easy "Themeless Thursday" (relative to other themeless puzzles). A beautiful swath of white squares in the center of the grid, no? Four 14-letter answers spinning around the middle anchor everything else. I always like a Z, and this puzzle has two: ZAMBONI crossing DOOZIE is particularly zesty. Plenty of favorite clues and answers, starting with Alan SMITHEE, the pseudonym directors of (some) crap movies use to hide their involvement. Then there's ROSEY Grier, who was in Free to Be You and Me singing "It's All Right to Cry" to show kids that big men are OK with crying. [Machete descendant] is UKE? I need to look that up. Ukuleles started out as Portuguese instruments called machetes, brought to Hawaii by Portuguese recruited to work in the sugar cane fields. The [Dental problem] CARIES is plain ol' tooth decay. [Round containers] (for GUNS) plays on the multiple meanings of "round"—the adjective that comes to mind here, and the noun that has to do with ammunition. Tricky! And [Pentathlete's equipment] sounds sporting, but it's another firearm answer: PISTOL. [They get depressed] refers to PEDALS, not tongues or mopey people. ORE is a [Dirty money source]. [Stud, e.g.] is an EARRING. [Elastic band?] is TUBE TOP. LOL is [What might be sent to a card on the computer?] Today, I saw some playground graffiti punctuated with a handwritten "LOL!!!" Gosh, how did people ever convey amusement to strangers passing by later before LOL was invented?

Updated, briefly:

No time to write much today. Patrick Blindauer's CrosSynergy puzzle has theme entries starting with SQU, but I don't really see what the theme is. Can someone explain?

I was completely out of sync with Ray Fontenot's cluing in the LA Times crossword. First off, it's a quip puzzle, and that usually puts a bad taste in my mouth. And then I got completely mired in the bottom midsection. [Mother of Sorrow, in an 1891 novel] is TESS? That seems needlessly arcane, particularly for a themed Thursday puzzle and particularly when it crosses the quip. [Blender setting] is CHOP? Accurate enough, but there are so many better clues for CHOP that don't lead the solver elsewhere (to, say, WHIP)—and again, crossing the quip, it should be more gettable than that. To the left, [Homecoming stragglers?] are COWS? Hell, I went with POWS and thought, "That's kinda depressing, if accurate." Again, crossing the quip. grumble, mumble