November 06, 2007

Wednesday, 11/7

NYS 5:24
NYT 3:28
CS 3:28
LAT 2:58

First, some service journalism: If you'd rather not receive a zillion mail-order catalogs, take advantage of Catalog Choice. It's a free service that is endorsed by the National Wildlife Federation and the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the goal is to cut down on paper waste by reducing the number of unwanted catalogs. Each day brings a couple more unsolicited catalogs in my mailbox, since it's the holiday shopping season. So I sit down, type in the catalog name, type in my customer number, and zip—Catalog Choice will pass along my request to be dropped from the mailing list. I've opted out of more than 20 mailing lists already. Love it!

And now, the crosswords.

Richard Chisholm's New York Times crossword has an explanatory line across the middle of the grid: TWO KINDS OF BOATS. That's what each of the other four theme entries are—phrases that contain two kinds of boats. No, not YACHTCATAMARAN. Rather, HOUSE PARTY—houseboat, party boat. And AIR SPEED—airboat (that's the kind of boat you might see in a swamp) and speedboat. LOVE LIFE—The Love Boat (here's the opening theme song), lifeboat. And ICE FISHING—ice boat, fishing boat. (I needed Google to show me what exactly a party boat and airboat were. I knew ice boats existed—they've made it into the crossword before.)

Alan Olschwang's New York Sun puzzle, "Funny Farm," has a menagerie of seven (!) farm animals that aren't animals, including a PAPAL BULL and a CASH COW. A [Pitcher's throwing arm, in slang] is a SOUPBONE, eh? I had no idea. I am not so well-versed in baseball slang. Favorite clue and answer: [Divine-ly dressed?] for IN DRAG.


Don and Barbara Gagliardo teamed up for an LA Times with a swingin', easy theme—three movie titles, in chronological order, that elide the G in -ing. There's SINGIN' IN THE RAIN, of course, along with BUSTIN' LOOSE and JUMPIN' JACK FLASH. I like the nouns that end with -or, like torpor, sopor, turgor, sapor, stupor, horror, rancor (which is related to rancid), and the -id adjectives most of them make. This puzzle crosses RIGOR with ICHOR (though there's no affiliated ichid). (And it appears that vapid has little to do with vapor, etymologically speaking.) Sorry, where was I? Crossword! Lots of names—I find name-filled crosswords to be easier and more fun, generally. And this puzzle's a pangram, so it's a bit Scrabbly, too.

What? When did this happen? Apparently Lynn Lempel has joined the CrosSynergy family of constructors. (For those who don't know, CrosSynergy puzzles don't have a single editor, à la the other newspaper puzzles. There are, I dunno, maybe 10 to 20 constructors in the syndicate. They have a rotating schedule, and their puzzles go through peer review rather than editing per se. So you can't submit your creations to a CrosSynergy editor—the puzzles are all inside jobs.) Today's puzzle, "Crazy 8s," gathers five different ways of spelling the long A + T sound: DEAD WEIGHT, GO STRAIGHT, HOT DATE, SHARKBAIT, FEEL GREAT. (Ooh, could arête work, too?) Good fill and clues overall—NOAH'S ARK ([Biblical means of escape]); ARABICA coffee beans; CUTIE PIE; [Burger in the making] for PATTY; [Smoker's residue] pulling double duty for both TAR and ASHES. I learned from Ken Jennings that people in other countries tend to eschew the LEGOS plural, instead using LEGO as an S-less plural. (We play with Legos in this house.)