March 14, 2008

Saturday, 3/15

NYT 5:38

When I lined up Al Sanders and Dave Sullivan to guest-blog about the Sunday and Monday puzzles, I figured I'd do all the usual Saturday puzzles before leaving for my trip. But you know what? We're leaving for O'Hare at 7 a.m., and that's when I usually wake up. So I don't think I'll be getting to the Newsday, LA Times, and CrosSynergy puzzles Saturday morning. The puzzle commentary on those three will be self-serve in the comments.

Hey, if you've ever hankered for a central repository of crossword events, hanker no more. The ACPT website now includes a calendar of upcoming crossword events around the country.

Ah, David Quarfoot! How do I love thy crosswords? Let me count the ways. In this one New York Times puzzle, you've got crazy fill that hardly any other constructors dare to try. And you smush it all in there together—why strand a GAY ICON in the grid without SIX-PACKS and a BAD PERM and THE CORE (that movie Hilary Swank made even though an Oscar winner should have known it was a bad idea) and "DOE, A DEER"? It's more fun to have a party of misfit answers. The fill has 28 7-letter answers, which oftentimes seems to mean a lot of blah words like RESISTS and SETTEES, but not here—no, you've got multi-word phrases for at least half of 'em. Because you're DQ and it is your wont, you have some Scrabbly fill, with two X's, a Q, and four K's. And you include surprising letter patterns, like NASDAQ ending in a Q, X'S AND O'S starting with X, the consonant clumps in ST. NICK, the DX in PED XING. And some brand names, like MEAD notebooks and STAX chips (the Lay's version of Pringles), and some spoken English, like "YEAH, MAN" and "...OR NOT." And then there's pop culture, with two movie titles, TV's KEATONS, a song lyric, Wonder Woman's TIARA, and [People's 1999 Sexiest Man Alive], Richard GERE.

Favorite clues: [Judy Garland or Liza Minnelli] for GAY ICON; [It began in 1968, for tennis] for OPEN ERA; [Football coaching figures] for X'S AND O'S; [Slice, say] for SODAPOP (anyone thinking of SEGMENT first?); [Behind] for RUMP; [Dancer's guider, for short] for ST. NICK; [Female demon] for LAMIA (she ate children and was suitable for scaring kids into behaving well); [Jacket option] for LEATHER because my kid just announced that he wants a black leather jacket and his birthday's next month; [High-ranking suits] for CEOS; [Market for Microsoft] for NASDAQ, the stock market where its shares are traded; ["Scandalized Masks" painter, 1883] for James ENSOR, who's usually clued with reference to his Belgianness (that painting is seen here if you scroll down; scroll down further to see "Skeletons Fighting Over a Pickled Herring"); [Chanel fragrance for men] for EGOISTE (remember those goofy TV commercials? I think there was an SNL spoof of that ad campaign); [Wind] for SNAKE, both verbs; [Bit of cocoa?] for SILENT A; and [Met's lineup?] for ARIAS.

There's one clue that replicates one from the ACPT final puzzle–let's nobody call attention to it so we can minimize the spoilage for the at-home solvers.