March 24, 2008

Tuesday, 3/25

NYS 4:42
CS 3:34
NYT 3:15
LAT 3:06
Tausig tba
Onion tba

Wow, I don't quite know how I finished the Tuesday NYT and Sun puzzles tonight. I tucked my son in (making sure the tooth he finally lost in Florida was safely stashed beneath his pillow for the tooth fairy) and promptly fell asleep. An hour or an hour and a half later, I awoke for crosswords. It wasn't a refreshing nap—rather, it was an amuse bouche for the sleepy brain, whetting its appetite for a full course of dreams.

The New York Times puzzle by Steve Salmon plays a densely packed homophone game. The vertical MORNING MOURNING ([Wake at dawn?]) anchors the theme, with two 10-letter theme entries crossing it and four more (9 letters apiece) heading Down. I wonder if tomorrow's puzzle will also have more than the usual allotment of theme squares, like this one and Monday's. Not a hard theme, but kinda fun.

It took my sleepy head a while to understand how the theme entries in Lee Glickstein's New York Sun crossword, "Send in the Clones," worked. Was that tricky for you, too, or am I just not fully awake? Each of the base phrases for the five theme entries adopts a PC (as in an IBM clone PC), altering the meaning. The goon squad becomes a GOP CON SQUAD ([Republican dirty tricksters?]), "Proud Mary" is a PROUD MAP CRY (["I found it in the atlas!"]), and the Miami Heat turns into a jazz-loving MIAMI HEPCAT. Favorite clues: [Fade, e.g.] for HAIRDO; [Play opener?] for FORE (now, does that mean "Fore!" opens the play of golf, or that it's the beginning of foreplay?); [Oscar-winning role for Hoffman] for CAPOTE (oh! Philip Seymour Hoffman, not Dustin Hoffman—Dustin won for Rain Man and Kramer vs. Kramer); ["Now you've done it!"] for UH-OH; and [Split components] for bowling PINS.


I woke up quite refreshed this morning, so that pre-bedtime nap paid off eventually. Just not last night when it impeded my consciousness.

In Ray Hamel's CrosSynergy crossword, "Catching Up," each theme entry's base phrase catches an UP. [Alfred the Great and Edward the Confessor?] are an OLD KING COUPLE. (No, they weren't a couple, as they lived about 200 years apart. They were just a couple of English kings of old.) I especially like CATSUP AND DOGS from a hotdog vending cart. And I like that DUPING BATS derives from dingbats. Interesting fill: G-SEVEN (though I don't think I've seen the 7 spelled out, it seems to be crossword convention that that's kosher, as with VH-ONE); "YOU GO, GIRL"; TO AND FRO.

Michael Langwald's LA Times crossword has a BLACKJACK theme in which the other four theme entries (clues asterisked) end with blackjack actions: HIT, STAND, DOUBLE, and SPLIT. The clues were easy and required no blackjack knowledge (the theme entries have non-card contexts, such as BANANA SPLIT and TAXI STAND), though, so zip-zip, it's an easy Tuesday puzzle.