November 04, 2007

Monday, 11/5

CS 3:55
NYS 3:11
LAT 2:54
NYT 2:44

I really like the New York Times crossword by Jeremy Horwitz. The theme's straightforward (three names, real or fictional, that begin with the same initial followed by middle name/last name) and fairly Scrabbly (five Js, a Q, and a K). The T.S. Eliot poetic protagonist, J. ALFRED PRUFROCK, the newspaper editor played by J.K. Simmons in the recent batch of Spider-Man movies, J. JONAH JAMESON, and the potatoe-spelling ex-V.P., J. DANFORTH QUAYLE, occupy the 15/13/15 theme. Crossing the center square is SAN JOSE, the [California city in a 1968 Dionne Warwick hit]—and San Jose is just a few miles from where Jeremy teaches math with Byron Walden. Other cool fill: JET PLANE, SAO PAULO in its entirety (rather than [___ Paulo]), PILSNER, ZIPPO ([A goose egg]), JIMI Hendrix, the [Lively '60s dance] called the FRUG. Tons of names in this puzzle (from just the top six rows, PATTI LaBelle, OMAR Khayyam, J. ALFRED PRUFROCK, MOE Szyslak, Frankie AVALON, Pres. TAFT, ANDIE McDowell, and URI Geller), which means I enjoyed it thoroughly; your mileage may vary if you don't tend to know all those names. Favorite non-theme clue: [Like the Marquis de Sade or the Duke of Earl] for TITLED.

Jonathan Gersch's New York Sun crossword is called "How Precious!" because it's packed with precious stones—the BIRTHSTONES for April through July, in order. April's DIAMONDBACK, May's EMERALD CITY, June's PEARL ONIONS, and July's RUBY TUESDAY Why doesn't it continue with August? Because August's birthstone is the chartreuse-colored peridot, and there aren't any well-known phrases that start with that word. Plus, I'm not crazy about the stone. Should've been born in a different month!


It's Bob Klahn for a second day in a row—this time with an uplifting CrosSynergy puzzle. The theme entries in "Show of Support" all wear a BRA. Panicking gets lifted and separated into PANIC BRAKING ([Frantically putting one's foot down?]. Cardinal sins don a bra for [Vatican College smarts?], or CARDINALS' BRAINS. And discovery boogies into DISCO BRAVERY, [Daring to step onto the dance floor?]. The rest of the clues follow the Klahn pattern—a smattering of successive clues that use the same word (e.g., [Dim bulb] for ASS followed by [Drink with dim sum] for TEA) provide reminders of the insanity of the English language, wherein so many words have multiple unrelated meanings. Klahn also toys with our expectations of which meaning is in play (e.g., [Game show pilots, briefly] are MCS, or emcees—having nought to do with TV show pilot episodes but rather, the people who pilot the show). And then there's plenty of alliteration, but not with the effect of super-easy clues. I think [Vino venue] (4) and [Welsh woofer] (5) would both be a little easier with a non-alliterative second word. Whereas from today's Newsday puzzle, clues like [Highway haulers] (5) and [Snakelike swimmer] (3) are Monday-easy, very little parsing required. Does that make sense? That somehow Klahn uses alliteration to confuse rather than to pep up a straightforward factual clue?

Gail Grabowski's LA Times puzzle gathers three ENGLISH AUTHORs at the ends of a LITTLE DICKENS, RACK OF LAMB, and "LESS IS MORE." A quartet of 9-letter entries enhance the fill (SAUSALITO, CHEESE LOG). The answer to ["You ___ listening to me"] is ARENT—and this reminds me of one of last night's Simpsons "Treehouse of Horror" segments. Marge and Homer were "Mr. and Mrs. Simpson," spoofing Brangelina in Mr. and Mrs. Smith. "Why didn't you tell me you were a paid assassin?" Marge asks Homer. "Why didn't you tell me you were an assassin?" is Homer's rejoinder. "I did! Twenty times!" she replies. (This is all paraphrased from memory.) Homer is an infamously poor listener.