I felt a little bruised after Friday's puzzle, which did not wish to cooperate with me. The Saturday New York Times crossword by Brad Wilber was a much friendlier beast. (What? Beasts can be friendly. Haven't you seen Beauty and the Beast?) Each quadrant of the puzzle had one or two long answers I loved, while the middle section, filled with ordinary words, proved to be the most difficult.
Answers that pleased me: A [YouTube phenomenon] is a VIRAL VIDEO. If you've seen OK Go's treadmill video and told someone about, you've transmitted the virus. The [Noted diary words] from Samuel Pepys, AND SO TO BED, look fabulous beside PEPE LE MOKO, the [Casbah fugitive of French film]. The lower right corner's got EURODISNEY (the [Much-anticipated Paris debut of 1992]) and the [1971 Elton John song], TINY DANCER (here's a video). Up above that are CHASE SCENE ([Action thriller staple]) and STREET CRED (with the dreadful, tone-deaf clue, [Homey's acceptance]). Shorter goodies included LOIS LANE (funny clue—[Fictional Pulitzer-winning journalist in a 2006 film]) linked to Clark KENT, and STAN LEE for more comic book–related action. And the [Kind of bean] that goes great with liver and a nice Chianti, FAVA.
Clues I liked best: One kind of [Hammer wielder] is an AUCTIONEER; I preferred yesterday's clue for the same word, [Block head?], but you can't reuse the same clue for an uncommon answer so soon. [Walk-on parts?] are LEGS, of course. [Napoleon, e.g.] means PASTRY as well as the Little Emperor (the guy who cuts my hair is, like Napoleon, from Corsica). EST is a [Record finish?] in that the record for the highest or fastest, for example, involves the comparative suffix -est. [Grinders] are MOLARS here, not submarine sandwiches. [One might be kidding] means a GOAT who's disgorging a baby goat, I think. Moving to the Down clues, HILLARY isn't Sen. Clinton, it's mountaineer Edmund, the ["View From the Summit" memoirist]. SAND is clued as [Innards of some clocks]; this one kept me guessing even when I had SAN*. Hourglass! Not a clock with a dial. If you are a [Coarse type], you might be called a SWINE. [Vertiginous] mean dizzy, or WOOZY—and WOOZY is a great word.
Speed bumps: [Hockey Hall-of-Famer Bryan] who? Bryan TROTTIER? If you say so. (Not to be confused with trotters, which look repulsive.) An [Archer's post] is a BATTLEMENT? Okey-doke. I'm not well-versed in castle architecture (though crosswords have taught me plenty about cathedral architecture, so the TRANSEPT, clued as [It intersects the nave], was a breeze). And a STATIC LINE is an [Alternative to a rip cord]? Okey-doke. SKEET is clued as [Earth-shattering activity?] because, I presume, the targets are made of clay, which is earthen. Never heard of the TRENT [Canal (connector of lakes Ontario and Huron)]. A PARTITA is [One of six pieces by Bach]; huh? I first put CPL for [U.S.C.G. rank], but that made the crossing LYER—instead, it's CPO crossing the [Legal hearing] OYER. TWEED was clued as [Relative of homespun]; I was looking for an adjective, but homespun also means "a plain, coarse, usually woolen cloth made of homespun yarn."
Frederick Healy's themeless LA Times crossword tricked me with [Oscar winner for her Queen Elizabeth role]. I went with Cate BLANCHETT, who was nominated but did not win that time; JUDI DENCH won for the same role in Shakespeare in Love. I wanted [New York City quintet] to be BOROUGHS (too short), but it's AREA CODES. I like the [Racing family name] ANDRETTI because my husband's employer sponsors an Andretti. [Old copiers] predate even the mimeograph machine—they're SCRIBES. [Benders under a table?] sound drunken, but they're just KNEES. Not thrilled with [Suds unit] as the clue for a COLD ONE, though I don't mind a COLD ONE one bit; no zippier clue is coming to mind, though.
Today's Newsday Saturday Stumper is credited to "Anna Stiga," a.k.a. Stan Newman. There's a mini-mini-theme in the middle: RUNNYMEDE crossing READY-MADE. MAX ERNST gets promoted to the full name treatment. Opposite that is the [Defense program] I tried to make into NAVAL AID, but it's not that kind of defense—it's LEGAL AID. It took me too long to get [Toon hero of a 2001 film] even though we've still got the DVD (and it's pretty funny)—Jimmy NEUTRON is the super-smart inventor kid with a robot dog named Goddard. NEUTRON anchored an icky corner—icky because POPOFFS and [Garry's longtime rival] ANATOLY meant nothing to me (I see now that it's Kasparov and Karpov of chess), nobody much says FORWENT, and FLOWAGE and SYNFUEL were slow grinds, too. Across the way, I kept trying to make [Recent arrival] be something along the lines of NEONATE rather than NEW HIRE. Chess vexed me again, with [Late stages] meaning ENDGAME; I went insectual with IMAGOES and the G worked just fine.
Patrick Blindauer's themed CrosSynergy crossword, "Car Company," has five phrases that begin with kinds of cars. Semi-Scrabbly fill, too, with a couple Xs, a Z (in PLOTZ!), a J, and a K.
November 02, 2007