April 08, 2008

Wednesday, 4/9

NYS 4:59
NYT 3:42
LAT 3:16
CS 3:09

It's Tuesday, and it's trivia night. A friend of mine will be joining the group tonight for the second time—she felt like she didn't contribute that other time, but having another person way on this side of age 25 has got to help, right? I don't know how much help I'll be, though—I'm all yawny and felt very sleepy while solving the following crossword just now.

Tony Orbach's New York Sun crossword, "Done to a T," felt hard to me, but either it's a bit harder than usual for a Wednesday Sun (for which my average solving time is 4:46) or tiredness is knocking me down a peg. I'm not sure this is the best description of the theme: Phrases starting with __ND words become phrases starting with __NT words, and the clues reflect the new word's meaning. A trendsetter is one thing, but a TRENT SETTER would be an [Engliish water dog?],, and the phrase "...and counting" turns into entomological ANT COUNTING. Who knew that [Lucia's brother in "Lucia di Lammermoor"] was named ENRICO? Or that ALEX HALEY wrote a book called A Different Kind of Christmas? I hadn't made sense out of [Bedroom closet community?], and ended up filling in NARNIA strictly through the crossings—didn't even see the answer until just now. Favorite clue: [Notable two-dimensional performer?] for TV STAR.

Updated Tuesday night:

Huzzah! We won trivia! I'm not quite sure how we won with so few points, but apparently the other teams recalled fewer answers. My key contributions were knowing the name of Perot's '92 running mate (and I swear he also had a '96 running mate who was included in a themeless crossword recently, and I'd never heard of him and have again forgotten his name) and the country where Mother Teresa was born.

The New York Times crossword is a joint production from Daniel Kantor and Jay Kaskel. The very last letter I typed in was supposed to be a D (in DRUM), but I typed an adjacent S instead (and just now, I typed "asjacent" at first). In searching for the typo after getting the "incorrect" message, of course I started scanning the grid at 1-Across. Nothing like a 20-second typo search to enhance one's solving time. But the crossword's theme was kinda funny—WHINE AND DINE describes the kvetchy complaints a dissatisfied restaurant patron might have. For 20- and 47-Across, the snarkiest remarks are in the clues, with the straightforward equivalents in the grid (e.g., MY SOUP IS COLD is direct, where ["I asked for tomato bisque, not gazpacho!"] is the bitchy snipe. 28-Across takes the opposite tack, with ARE WE INVISIBLE being more oblique than ["Has our waiter even made eye contact?"]. Favorite clues and answers: [Language of the Hindustan Express] for URDU; ATM FEE, or [Money for money]; DADDY-O ([Pops]); and [Pal] for both BUB and BRO (MAC must have been busy).


Donna Levin's LA Times crossword features four two-word phrases that rhyme with Alice, with four different ways of spelling that cluster of sounds. George Halas, a phallus, and callous are feeling a bit put out that the grid was not able to accommodate more than the other four. The [Renata Tebaldi rival] is MARIA CALLAS, the [Jazz at Lincoln Center director] is WYNTON MARSALIS, [Winston Churchill's ancestral home] was BLENHEIM PALACE, and the [Last Supper wine vessel] was a HOLY CHALICE.

Mel Rosen's CrosSynergy puzzle is called "How Do You Stand?" and "positions" are the theme. Each theme entry is both a word made of a prefix + position and a short word followed by the word position. For example, a [Dining room chair] is a SUP POSITION, and supposition is a word (not alluded to in the clue).