January 17, 2008

Friday, 1/18

NYS 4:53
NYT 4:45
1/11 CHE 4:32
LAT 4:28
1/18 CHE 3:48
Jonesin' 3:32
CS 2:45

WSJ 8:58

Whoo! It is brisk out there! And by "brisk," I mean 14 degrees not counting the wind chill factor, and the wind is howling and whining. An upstairs neighbor's for-sale sign was being buffeted about by the wind banging on the wrought iron fence, so I after I did the Times puzzle, I grabbed some wire cutters and a wire hanger and secured the flapping metal sign. See? I'm handy with more than just crossword puzzles.

Now that I'm back from my Triumph of Handiness, let us (the royal us) blog. It was Trip Payne's 70-word New York Times crossword that instructed me to 53-Down (LASH, or [Secure, in a way]) that sign. The puzzle also says to DO IT AGAIN ([Steely Dan hit of 1972]), but I refuse. Favorite entries: MAGNETISM, or [Drawing power]; SNEAKINESS, or [Cunning]; the [Moliere comedy] THE MISER; a tasty PIEROGI, or [Filled treat] (I'll take mine with potatoes and cheese, please); Richard DREYFUSS (though the only ["Moon Over Parador" star] I remembered was Raul Julia); ACT and NOW clued jointly; and THE PROPHET by Kahlil Gibran, the subject of a recent long New Yorker article. That last clue misspells the author's name: [Classic mystical book by Khalil Gibran]. Tsk!

Favorite clues: [Brood : chicken :: parliament : ___] for OWL; [Where the wild things are?] for MENAGERIE; [Hard-to-break plates] for ARMOR followed soon after by ["Ode to Broken Things" poet] for NERUDA; [Prometheus Society alternative] for MENSA. Obscurities or little-knowns: HAMAN the [Villain in the Book of Esther]; [Ancient fragrance] for NARD; [Canadian equivalent of the Oscar] for GENIE (sorry, Canadians—we Americans don't follow your cinema so much); [Asian title] for RANEE, not the spelling we usually see and lacking any female or Indian cues; [Gulf of Taranto's locale] for the IONIAN SEA (the Gulf of Taranto, it turns out, is the water between the heel and sole of Italy's boot); [Echo, e.g., in Greek myth] for OREAD (Echo was a mountain nymph? I didn't know that); [___ Atomic Dustbin (English rock band] for NEDS; [___ Carinae (hypergiant star)] for ETA; ["The Amazing Race" host Keoghan] for PHIL (Who? Now Trip will know I've never watched that show, which he's blogged about numerous times); and [Rotary motions] for SIDE SPINS.

Karen Tracey's New York Sun "Weekend Warrior" is a 70-worder. Pairs of stacked 15s near the top and bottom are bound together by ANGELINA JOLIE stretching vertically. Although I don't know the song, I was delighted to guess that ["Be My Yoko Ono" band] meant BARENAKED LADIES just from the EDL in the middle. Other favorite entries besides those two: SWOOSIE Kurtz across from OLD MAID; Froot Loops cereal spokestoon TOUCAN SAM; and the ZEBRA with the equally Scrabbly clue, [Quagga relative].

Favorite clues: [Match game] for OLD MAID; [___ Marchand (rapper Foxy Brown's real name)] for INGA; [It might end with a bang] for SENTENCE; [Shellac] for DRUB; [Gloamings] for the equally poetic EVENTIDES; [Crunch time action?] for SITUP; [WHO concerns] for STDS; [Fancy alternative] for FACT; and [Work sheets?] for MEMORANDA.

Matt Jones's Jonesin' puzzle, "Cornering Ability," is an easy (for pop-culture fans) themeless crossword with 66 words. Because I am, after all, a 14-year-old boy, I laughed at the two violations of the Sunday-morning breakfast test: [Leak source?] for URETHRA and [Testicle, slangily] for NAD. A few spoken phrases, lots of TV/movies/music clues, HARIBO Gummi Bears, some KEPT MEN ([Lovers supported by older women]), a little sports, and an impressive 36 7- or 8-letter answers. The grid's top and bottom halves meet at just one square in the center, but I thought the clues were easy enough to give any Friday-level solver plenty of footholds to offset that structural limitation. Tons of fun if you enjoy pop-culture clues. (I do!)


Norman Wizer's Wall Street Journal crossword, "Making Ends Meet," contains eight exactly symmetrical [END] rebus squares linking 16 entries. Favorite entries: RATED X, CROP TOP, DEAD CALM, THE EGG that may or may not precede the chicken, and TRADE WAR. Favorite clues: [Bear of a story] for PAPA; [Champagne flow] for the SEINE River; [State] for SNIT (as in "in a ___"); and [Yard goods?] for SOD. Mystery answer: [Advances-to-declines indicator] is TRIN (the link explains this).

Ray Hamel's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Hind Limbs," is easy but filled with some great stuff. The theme entries end with BRANCH, STICK, and BOUGH (plus there's a bonus SCION [Grafting shoot]). The fill includes five Ks and Vs, a Z, an X, and a J, and answers like TOM HANKS, "TSK, TSK," KLUTZ, and BOBCAT. Thank you, Ray, for using the [Egg holder] clue for OVARY and not UTERUS! Scientific accuracy rules.

Dan Naddor's LA Times puzzle takes __SS ___ phrases and makes them __SS S___ phrases, so business trip becomes "Dilbert," a BUSINESS STRIP, and "SNL's" Weekend Update is a PRESS SKIT. Six theme entries, solid (if not particularly exciting) fill, Fridayish clues. My favorite clues/answers: the PC LAB; [Lead-in for a crook] for the Nixonian I AM NOT (technically, this is a 6-letter partial, but Nixon's always fun and certainly better than yet another [Playground retort] clue); FISHNET stockings; a NOSE GUARD in football; and [Part of a trip around the world] for ARC.

Well, Cruciverb.com's Friday link for the Chronicle of Higher Education used to run on a two-week delay, and I followed that schedule. Now it's got the current link, so suddenly I'm two weeks behind. The January 11 Chronicle of Higher Education puzzle by Larry Shearer is called "Academic Transfers," and the theme entries here are 7- or 8-letter colleges with their anagrams (it's a 15x16 grid). TO MY MIND (55-Across), the best are AMHERST HAMSTER and HAMPTON PHANTOM. I think there's a typo in the clue for REAR: Shouldn't it be [Raise] and not the mysterious [Raisex]?

Jim Leeds' January 18 Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, "Band Master," features the MARCH KING, John Philip Sousa, and four titles of his works that I've never heard of. Fortunately, they're also clued straightforwardly, so they're gettable for non-march fans. Why is there a Sousa work called WASHINGTON POST? Or MANHATTAN BEACH?