February 11, 2008

Tuesday, 2/12

Tausig 5:18
Onion 4:45
NYS 4:38
LAT 3:08
CS 3:05
NYT 2:56

Why, happy Lincoln's Birthday, everyone! Is this a holiday observed by your local governmental agencies or school districts, or is that more a Land of Lincoln thing?

Deb Amlen's got a zippy New York Times crossword that has nothing to do with Lincoln. Or does it? Let's see. LUAU? Er, no. MARACAS? Hmm, probably not. The theme is cool—four phrases have RE- tacked onto their beginnings, changing the first word of each into REMEMBER or something synonymous. A member profile, collect dust, call waiting, and count calories all become markedly different entities with the RE- changing the beginning. I like the fill, too—US MAGAZINE is a fantastic entry, and you could have some OATMEAL while reading it. A GORILLA stands alongside EMERIL, who says BAM. The clues strike the right light touch, too—["I'll take that as ___"] A NO; IT'LL ["___ be a cold day in hell..."]; SWEET [Like dessert wines} (yum!); [Kvetching sort] for CRAB; [Like a blue state] for DEMOCRATIC.

Patrick "Bebe" Berry constructed the New York Sun crossword, "One-Two Threes." As far as I know, nobody calls him Bebe, but adding that makes him fit in with his theme: six phrases that contain a two-letter chunk that repeats three times in a row. There are three ANs in yummy BANANA NUT BREAD and three TOs in "TOTO TOO." I love the fill—there's some delicious pop culture in Journey's "OPEN ARMS." Football great Larry CSONKA, with his non-English letter combo. A cold DUNGEON in which things may (ick) CONGEAL. DIG OUT after a snowstorm—holy cow, we've had enough snow in Chicago that my building's snow-shoveling guy says they money's not worth it any more, and we'll need to find someone else to DIG OUT next winter. The AMC car called the GREMLIN (which was about as silly-looking as its sister car, the Pacer). And who doesn't enjoy BEDLAM every now and again?


It took me a while to unravel the upper left corner of Ben Tausig's Ink Well/Chicago Reader puzzle. (An aside: Every week or two, it seems someone asks where I found this puzzle or the Onion puzzle. The answer: Via Ben's Google Group. Sign up and you'll get both puzzles—in Across Lite and printable MS Word—via e-mail, usually on Tuesday mornings. Why hop from site to site looking for these puzzles when they can be delivered to your in box?) The theme in "Duh!" is the turned into DE, turning a "the ___" phrase into a DE___ word (sometimes with altered spelling. Puts the seat down becomes PUTS DECEIT DOWN (my favorite), and the face of a killer becomes DEFACE OF A KILLER (um, deface isn't a noun). Fill highlights: Pablo PICASSO, MOZILLA Firefox, Patrick DEMPSEY, the MSRP sticker on a car, and GZA, the [Wu-Tang member with a noted chess obsession] (I didn't know if it was RZA or GZA, but both entertained me in one of the more engaging sequences in Coffee and Cigarettes).

It's not yet springtime—at least it isn't in the Great Lakes states—and yet a young constructor's thoughts turn to booty. The theme in Tyler Hinman's Onion A.V. Club puzzle is GETting...intimate. Phrases like LUCKY STRIKE and SOME TIME AGO begin with words that can follow GET: "get some," "get lucky," "get laid," "get busy." Highlights in the non-theme fill: Mrs. MALAPROP, SAPPORO beer, DRY WINES crossing a SLACKER alongside Patrick SWAYZE ([Patrick who was voted "Sexiest Man Live" in 1991]), and OAXACA, Mexico. Favorite clues: [Hot bed] for...COALS; [Everything] for A TO Z; ANA "'___ Ng" (They Might Be Giants' first song on the US charts)] (great song); and[ [Pillar of the Msulim community?] for MINARET.

Paula Gamache's CrosSynergy crossword, "On the Ball," marks the onset (later this month) of MLB spring training with baseballs FAST, FOUL, FLY, and FAIR introducing the phrases in the theme entries. Lively fill abounds—GO TO JAIL in Monopoly, RED-SHIRT a college athlete, use some COP-OUTS, and "make love, NOT WAR."

Brian Callahan's LA Times crossword commemorates Abraham Lincoln's birthday by including three [Lincoln]s: the CITY IN NEBRASKA, PORTRAIT ON A FIVE, and FORD AUTOMOBILE. I thought small for the middle one, first trying PENNY and then considering A CENT. D'oh!