October 12, 2007

Saturday, 10/13

NYT 10:39
Newsday 4:43
LAT 3:54
CS 2:50

Crikey! I got myself wedged into the southwest corner with no way out save a search engine. [1959 #1 hit for Lloyd Price]? Are you kidding me? Turns out it's STAGGER LEE. I had STAG... and figured it had to be STAGE-something, but no. Post-Googling, I have a recollection of Googling that before, because the story is faintly familiar. All right, now I truly understand why people complain about sections of crosswords that have limited connections to the rest of the puzzle. (Kudos to Arnold Reich and Craig Kasper, who don't seem to have been hung up so painfully.)

My favorite entries were the conversational ones. "AMEN TO THAT!" means ["I hear ya!"]. "GUESS SO" is ["Seems that way"]. "NO TAKERS?' is ["Isn't anyone interested?"]. The PROM QUEENS ([Some dance honorees]), [Dietary danger] TRANS FAT, SAY HI TO ([Greet]), and REPUGNANCE ([Antipathy]) were also welcome. And NICO, the [One-named singer with the Velvet Underground], was a gimme. Clues I enjoyed: [Not be fair?] for RAIN ([Winter fall, in Falkirk] is SNA? That one's less fun); [Needle holders] for FIRS; [Calls in a field] for CAWS (crows, not referees); [Lovelace who was called "The Enchantress of Numbers"] for ADA (Lord Byron's daughter); [Check] for INHIBIT; and [Spare change?] for TIRE.

Toughest entries/clues: STAGGER LEE, as noted; [Home of Gannon University] for ERIE (without Googling, does anyone actually know anything about this school?); [Legendary Christian martyr] for URSULA (Ms. Andress, we needed you today); [Classic sports lineup] for T-FORMATION; [Work period] for STINT (not SHIFT); [Cossacks' leader] for TSAR;
I can't say I knew that André PREVIN was a [Winner of four Oscars for musical scores], but his name fit and there you have it. [Revolutionary War general Thomas] GAGE also popped out of the recesses of memory, fortunately. (Not that it helped much in that corner.)

Least favorite clues and answers: [Take the top off] for UNHAT; [Range, e.g.] for OPEN AREA; MGT for [Company keepers: Abbr.] (MGMT is much more common, no?); [Like a snood, commonly] for NETTY; [Like many supermarket lines?] for SCANNED (nobody thinks of UPC codes as "lines," do they?); [Producer of some beads] for SWEATER (when there's a perfectly good knit sweater to play around with, why go with a verb + ER concoction?); and [It can give people flight reservations] for JET LAG (does anyone skip traveling because of trepidation about jet lag? Too much of a stretch for the twist on "reservations").


Robert Mackey's LA Times puzzle turned out to be easier than most Saturday LAT crosswords. Favorite entries: HOME ICE is [Hockey team's advantage]; TENNIES are [Sneaks on the court?]; GENERAL TOM THUMB is the biggest answer in the whole puzzle despite his short stature; USED TO BE; and the MARIANAS are [Guam, Saipan, etc.] and I do like me some geography. Favorite clues: [Like some computer woes] for VIRAL (insert obligatory "You really don't have to fret about computer viruses if you have a Mac" statement here); [Simple basket] for a TIP-IN in basketball; [Hammer or anvil] for EAR BONE; and [Slanted in the newspaper] for ITALIC. Not crazy about ALARMER (wasn't Chicken Little a textbook alarmist?) and VANISHERS; the semi-arbitrary-sounding ONE SPADE and SEVEN IRON; and the old-school crossword answer ADIT.

Daniel Stark's Newsday Saturday Stumper had a few clues I enjoyed: [Secretive group] for GLANDS (not a cabal of spies!); [White elephant, for one] for ALBINO (not a hand-me-down piece of junk!); [Course length] for SEMESTER (time, not distance, and school, not golf or food); and [Punting site] for the THAMES (boating, not kicking a football).

Paula Gamache's themed CrosSynergy puzzle, "Shaken and Stirred," offers four phrases that end with things that may be MIXED (61-Across): STUNT DOUBLES, SPORTS DRINKS, etc. Easy crossword for a Saturday!