February 06, 2008

Thursday, 2/7

NYT 4:43
NYS 4:02
CS 3:20
LAT 3:18

I'm feeling a little blogged out, having done the show writeup and another post elsewhere. And I haven't had supper yet, even though it's after 10 p.m., and I have a cold. So I fear I will give short shrift to tonight's crosswords.

Kenneth J. Berniker's New York Times crossword has a Thursday-friendly gimmick: It's a NO-FLY ZONE, so FLY has been eliminated from the other six theme entries. Pairs of theme entries intersect in two corners of the grid, and in one of these corners, both theme entries contain a Z (but not where they cross). So it's ambitious from a structural/theme standpoint. The [Hairy-leaved plant] is the VENUS TRAP (flytrap), for example, and one might say, "Waiter, THERE'S A (fly) IN MY SOUP." Didn't know [Bluesman Willie] LOMAX, or that the A-team and B-team are backed up by the C-TEAM or [Third-stringers]. And what is ZAX? Sometimes in the applet, the last letter or two of a clue is cut off. [Hole-punching tool for a slater], I'm guessing, but that last letter looks more like a miniature capital N. (Does anyone else have that problem in the applet sometimes?) Favorite clue: [Bush people, for short] for GOP. Been a while since we've seen YARE, [Easily maneuvered, as a boat]; one of those words I learned from crosswords and haven't quite managed to work into conversation yet. 1-Down had a shout-out to regular reader/commenter Penny; [Penny ___] turned out to be SAVER but I first thought she might be a PINCH or ANTES.

Alan Olschwang's "Themeless Thursday" in the New York Sun had four 15-letter entries traveling in the Across direction interwoven with three 15s going Down. My favorite of the 15s is FOR OLD TIMES' SAKE. Two unfamiliar 3-letter Chinese names—Wai LIN and the boat Mon LEI (bought in 1946 by the Ripley's Believe It Or Not guy)—as well as an unfamiliar insult comic (LISA Lampanelli) and an unfamiliar arena football team (KATS). Let us not forget the unfamiliar movie title, ["Chesty Anderson, ___" (1976 Shari Eubank film)] cluing USN. (The IMDb plot keywords for the movie include Female Nudity, Catfight, Gangster, Buxom, Nudity. Excuse me, how is "buxom" a plot point? Overall, the clues seemed fairly easy for a themeless Sun crossword. What a relief to have no TV game show–style crossword clues!


Mike Peluso's LA Times crossword has four theme entries clued [Temple]. Shirley Temple was HEIDI'S PORTRAYER, there's a HOUSE OF GOD, Temple University is the OWLS' CAMPUS, and it's also the FOREHEAD FEATURE on either side. I liked the [One that may be pregnant] PAUSE, and HOBO crossing a HOT ROD, surf HODADS, and a PIANO BAR.

Stella Daily and Bruce Venzke's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Chain of Power," strings together three power ___s in each theme row. Finding the word breaks is up to the solver. I love the word DOGGED ([Totally tenacious]); don't you? My last square was the O in TOKES. [Tips for a Vegas dealer]? Really? Huh. The marijuana sense of the word's more familiar to me. The crossing (AWOKEN) was easy if you pay attention to verb tense, but I neglected to do so. (And it couldn't have been TAKES with TAKERS elsewhere in the grid. Now, I would've used AWAKEN/TAKES and changed TAKERS to LAKERS crossing LATEN or LATER.)