February 20, 2008

Wednesday, 2/20

NYS 3:58
NYT 3:13
LAT 3:07
CS 3:05

It's late, I just got home from pub trivia, and I'm tired. Some of tonight's questions: What fragrance/cosmetics/skin care company has Kate Winslet, Clive Owen, and Anne Hathaway as spokespersons? (My fairly random guess was right, but the team went with something comparably plausible.) List five of the top eight baby names for boys 100 years ago (I got 'em.) Something-something right triangle, something-something hypotenuse (the category was Trigonometry; Tyler knew the answer). Which publication was Pauline Kael a movie critic for: New Yorker, Village Voice, or New York Post? Place these three countries in order from biggest to smallest in terms of (a) population and (b) land area: Italy, Iran, Japan.

Quick takes on the Times and Sun puzzles before I go to bed—first, the New York Times crossword by Chuck Hamilton. (Debut, or just someone who hasn't had a puzzle lately?) The theme is DOUBLE (65-Across) things. The five theme entries begin with double ___ entities. For example, SPACE CADET and MAJOR CHORD give us "double space" and "double major." Fill highlights: ZAMBONI alongside CLIP ART, and Scrabbly AJAX crossing the NAZIS who were/are [Simon Wiesenthal's quarry].

In Alan Arbesfeld's New York Sun crossword, Oscar week continues with "Oscar-Winning Double Features," in which each theme entry is a mashup of two Oscar-grade movies. For example, the [Unstable meteorologist] is a ROCKY RAIN MAN. (Imagine if Sylvester Stallone had played Raymond instead of Dustin Hoffman...) I suppose there aren't a ton of options for paired movie titles that make clueable phrases, but this theme didn't especially grab me.


Dan Naddor's LA Times crossword has an AYE-AYE theme. No, not this insane-looking little creature from Madagascar—the [Sailor's assent], which is pronounced like the letter i twice. Each theme entry is a two-word phrase with two is in the middle: e.g., JULI INKSTER, FIJI ISLANDS.

Nancy Salomon's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Get Out," gets the GET out of each theme entry's original phrase. Balanced budget becomes your [Fair friend?], a BALANCED BUD. Overall, a smooth crossword. If only [Jamie Foxx's Oscar-winning role] or [Comedian Martha] were here to join Charlotte RAE and Stephen REA for a celebrity-[ray] party, eh?