Hmm, the Tausig and Onion A.V. Club puzzles didn't come out via e-mail on Tuesday, when they're normally delivered. Maybe Wednesday. I will not liken them to Godot until Wednesday evening.
Michael Langwald had the Tuesday LA Times puzzle, and now the Wednesday New York Times crossword—his NYT debut. The theme involves famous people whose last names are homophones for cooking-related words, such that [name]'s [food] sounds like [first name] [verb]'s [food]. So we have actor PETER BOYLE'S STEW, singer GLENN FREY'S EGGS, and singer SAM COOKE'S STEAK.
** We interrupt this broadcast to note that the Tausig and A.V. Club puzzles just reached my in-box (will do them Wednesday), and that my browser just crashed but one of the things I like best about Blogger is its autosaving of drafts every minute. I lost nothing in the browser crash! **
Favorite clues in the NYT crossword: [Angered and enraged, e.g.] for ANAGRAMS; [Word before luck or cluck] for DUMB; [Clinton cabinet member satirized by Will Ferrell] for Janet RENO ("Now dance!"); and [It may be under your hat] for SECRET (ah, yes, I remember that day about 12 years ago when my division's executive V.P. told me a corporate secret and told me to keep it under my hat—the one and only time I've received the hat request).
A dear friend asked me what the heck the theme was in the New York Sun puzzle by Alex Boisvert. It was a pretty easy crossword for a mid-week Sun puzzle, except for figuring out the theme after I was done. Did you find the theme to be too subtle for a Wednesday, or wonderfully subtle, or so obvious you're a little embarrassed for me that it took me a while to identify it? The title is "Post Post," and the vertical entry FOURLETTERWORDS is said to describe the last parts of the four theme entries, collectively. Those ending words are CARRIER, PERFECT, BOX, and OPENER (BOX is part of THE JUICE BOX, a great nickname for a ballpark with naming rights belonging to a juice company). That vertical entry isn't FOUR-LETTER WORDS, hyphenated, but rather, FOUR "LETTER" WORDS: letter carrier, letter-perfect, letterbox, and letter opener. Aha! My favorite entries were brand names: SUZY-Q snack cakes (not to be confused with Suzi Quatro), VW BUG, and CUERVO tequila; brands are also represented by IHOP, BOSE, EDDIE Bauer, AMCS (cinemas), TRIX, and the clue for BRA. Favorite clues: [Die across the border?] for LES (die in German is feminine or plural "the," and plural "the" in French is LES); the two pachyderm clues for BABAR and a HIPPO; [Credit, informally] for PROPS; and [Bizet's brother] for FRERE (French for "brother," that's all).
Super-easy Wednesday CrosSynergy puzzle from Martin Ashwood-Smith. The "Fine Dining" theme entries are phrases that begin with the words BITING, CHEWING, and EATING, but none of the phrases are about the intake of aliment. I like the name density in the opening corner, where JONAS Salk crosses two names that were bigger in the '80s, JOBETH Williams and OLIVIA Newton-John. Favorite clue: [Level the playing field?] for MOW the grass.
I like the LA Times crossword by Gary Steinmehl today. The last section of the puzzle I filled in was the upper right, which is where the tie-it-all-together answer was—and before I saw that, I didn't realize that there were also two 7-letter theme entries, nor what the theme was. What links TWEETYBIRD, MARVIN GARDENS on a Monopoly board, and a SMILEY FACE? And also relates to the ONE BALL in pool and PIKACHU from Pokemon? They are all YELLOW (16-Down)! Of course. Now it's obvious. Au courant clue: [Center of Phoenix?] for Shaquille O'NEAL, recently traded from Miami. It's probably against somebody's rules to have both ANIMAL clued as [Orwellian farmer] and an ["Animal House" house] clue, but you know what? The Orwell thing made me think of Animal Farm, so I wanted to see if BARN would work in lieu of FRAT house. (We all know about the "aha" moment in crosswords, but there are also "d'oh" moments.)
I'm heading to the gym now, so I'll get to the Tausig puzzle and Deb Amlen's Onion crossword later this morning.
Ben Tausig's Chicago Reader/Ink Well puzzle was most enjoyable. "The Hidden Persuaders" are his subliminal ads, brand names found BACKWARDS as words in the other four theme entries. Larry Flynt can be called a SMUT PEDDLER, and Tums antacids are in there backwards. Evian water's NAIVE backwards; the BOXER SHORTS have Stroh's beer; and MAPS is Spam meat product backwards. I think I knew that Evian and naive were a pair, but I never noticed the other three. SHORTS is a particularly nice find, in my opinion. Twenty-six of the fill entries are 6 or 7 letters long, with plenty of goodies among them: PALE ALE, BAND-AID, TRAIPSE, MAH-JONG, and intersecting baseball pitches HEATER and SPITTER. Favorite clues: [Something caught in the act?: Abbr.] for STD; [Handheld console, for short] for PSP (that's the PlayStation Portable that my kid has—hooray, a video game answer I actually knew!); and ["Damn it!" alternatives] for D'OHS. I don't really like KIX as a [Corn Pops competitor] because while they are both breakfast cereals, one is a guilty pleasure (mmm, I do enjoy a bowl of Corn Pops—for an extra flavor kick, splash a couple drops of OJ on top of that cereal with milk) and one is pretty guilt-free (or as guilt-free as a major-brand non-organic cereal can be).
Deb Amlen's Onion A.V. Club crossword celebrates Easter with theme entries starting with BUNNY, EGG, CHICK, and BASKET. I like that BUNNY SLOPE. CHICK MAGNET, and BASKETCASE have exactly nothing to do with the symbols of Easter. Look what's in the fill—a GONAD! Clued as [Testicle, e.g.]. Nothing wrong with that. Parts is parts, after all. Favorite clues: [Laptop item?] for NAPKIN; [TV show featuring "The Others"] for LOST; [Out of gear?] for NUDE; and the verb phrase [Reference books?] for READ. Isn't that last one terrific? Favorite entry: "OH, I DUNNO."
March 25, 2008