October 14, 2007

Monday, 10/15

CS 4:14
NYS 3:43
LAT 2:45
NYT 2:28

I was hoping one of the day's crosswords would include a famous 3-letter crossword name seldom encountered outside of puzzles, and the New York Times puzzle by Andrea Carla Michaels did me that favor. Why? Because I just read this New Yorker piece that mentioned a 1962 work of short fiction called "Yma's Dream" by Thomas Meehan, in which he writes of a dream in which he's making introductions: "Yma, Uta; Yma, Ava; Yma, Oona"...shades of David Letterman's "Uma, Oprah" shtick that didn't go over so well at the Oscars. I don't suppose any of you dear readers has that New Yorker electronic archive with access to "Yma's Dream"? I'd love to read the whole thing.

Turning back to the crossword, which included YMA: Easy Monday puzzle with an easy, approachable theme. Four familiar "[Verb]ING [animal]" phrases, two of them birds (EATING CROW, TALKING TURKEY) and two mammals (PLAYING POSSUM, CRYING WOLF). Can you think of other phrases that follow this form? My mind is stuck on SPINNING MOOSE, which of course is not anything. (Unless you Google it and discover a key ring). Lots of other verbs in the longer Down answers (CANCELS, REWRITES, CONDUCTS, ASSIGNS, ENCRYPT) and two other animal names (TOAD, JOEYS), but no more combos. Although I would kill to have a rewriting toad as a pet. Good IMUS clue: [Don with a big mouth].


Brendan Emmett Quigley's New York Sun puzzle, "Letter Perfect," tends to its i, t, p, and q components with DOTS ONE'S I'S AND / CROSSES ONE'S T'S and MIND ONE'S P'S AND Q'S. (Hey! Those letters spell Q-Tip.) With a Q in the theme, four extraneous X's, and a Z, this grid's good and Scrabbly for a Monday. The puzzle didn't really take me much longer than most Monday Suns, but the clues felt a little more oblique and challenging.

Bob Klahn fans, you're in luck—he's got today's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Selected Shorts." I didn't grasp the theme until after I finished the puzzle. Ha! Fresh fill, interesting and mind-exercising cluing, a theme that may raise an amused eyebrow—it's like a Thursday puzzle but with a more straightforward theme.

Andrea Michaels' other puzzle today is in the LA Times—four famous "artists" with names evoking a chill. ("Artists" is in scare quotes because I'm not sure that VANILLA ICE is properly considered an artist. Maybe more of a low-talent hack?) The fill skews a little naughty, with BONGS (albeit clued without reference to pot) and HOTWIRE. It's fitting that RAPS (albeit without reference to hip-hop) and BLING share space with Mr. Ice. ARBY'S is also in the fill—did I ever tell you about the time my family stopped at an Arby's drive-through to pick up lunch, and were informed that they were out of roast beef? Yep.