January 23, 2008

Wednesday, 1/23

NYT 3:24
LAT 3:20
CS 3:17
NYS 3:10

Just got home from pub trivia, where we won first place, unfortunately. Second prize was the usual first-place prize, a $25 gift card for use at the same bar. First prize was a pair of tickets to Wednesday's Wyclef Jean show at the House of Blues, but my team does not wish to see a concert (with standing-room tickets) tomorrow. Here's hoping we can sell 'em!

The Wednesday New York Sun puzzle wasn't posted in advance because Peter Gordon needed to make it first. (If you don't know why, I'll give you a small hint: It's an annual tradition.) Look for it to be posted sometime Wednesday morning(ish)—if you see it before me, leave a comment to let folks know it's out, would ya? Thanks.

Henry Hook's New York Times crossword plays a rhyming game that's missing my favorite mouse of kiddie lit, Maisy, but contains all (I think) the other plausible rhymes. There's PATRICK SWAYZE, a name made for crosswords with the Z, K, and W—he's clued obliquely as ["She's Like the Wind" singer, 1988] rather than as an actor. There's another name for the [Aster], the MICHAELMAS DAISY. And then the trifecta, "Those LAZY HAZY CRAZY Days of Summer." Gotta love a shout-out to ROSE MARIE, clued here as a ["Hollywood Squares" regular] rather than a member of the Dick Van Dyke Show ensemble. And ANATHEMA! Love that word ([Something detested]). One favorite clue is [C's in shop class?] for CLAMPS (as in C-clamps). [Its motto is "Manly deeds, womanly words"] clues MARYLAND. What the eff does that mean? (Janie, an explanation? And speaking of JANIE, that's clued as [Title girl with a gun in a 1989 Aerosmith hit].) I have no idea why there's a question mark in the clue, [To say in Spanish?] for DECIR. Perhaps a Spanish speaker can explain? Have you heard AT HAZARD used to mean [On the line]? I have not.


Quick takes, because I've got to go to the gym—

The New York Sun crossword is an annual Peter Gordon (or "Roger DePont") tradition—a puzzle that appears the day after the Oscar nominations are announced and includes all five BEST / PICTURE nominees. Now, if you know this theme in advance and pay attention to the titles of the nominated movies, the grid practically fills itself in. Kudos to Peter for once again finding a way to include all the movies in a symmetrical grid. Thanks to the Academy for not nominating The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, which would really crowd the grid (as it is, there are 72 theme squares), and to the filmmakers who called the Clooney movie MICHAEL / CLAYTON, which splits so nicely across the center square. ODE TO JOY and a HOT PLATE are nice inclusions in the fill, but I think the theme's requirements forced some fill Peter wouldn't ordinarily be pleased with; e.g. ANIL, and, well, I guess that's the only obvious crosswordese sort of answer.

I got a kick out of Bruce Venzke and Stella Daily's LA Times crossword. Gotta love a theme that includes the words SCREWBALL, HALF-BAKED, DIMWITTED, and COCKAMAMIE, eh? And then the fill includes "OH, FUDGE" for good measure.

Patrick Jordan's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Lingo," tacks a LING onto each theme entry's base phrase. (I will take one CITY DUMPLING, please.) One request: A moratorium on cluing IMACS as [Colorful computers]. These haven't been colorful in years. They were glossy white for a couple years, and now they're brushed silver.