May 29, 2008

Friday, 5/30

NYS 5:22
LAT 5:12
NYT 5:04
CHE 4:49
Jonesin' 3:25
CS 3:12

WSJ 8:22

Brendan Emmett Quigley's New York Sun "Weekend Warrior" includes the full names of five people (one fictional) in the grid—the Scrabblerific NIKKI SIXX ([Bassist on the two "Girls, Girls, Girls"] by Mötley Crüe; birth name Frank Ferrana), the crosswordese-first-named ANA ALICIA (["Falcon Crest" actress]; birth name Ana Alicia Ortiz), JANGO FETT ([Bounty hunter in "Attack of the Clones," one of the Star Wars flicks), the crossword-friendly ANNE MEARA (["Archie Bunker's Place costar], wife of Jerry Stiller and mother of Ben Stiller), and two-part crosswordese ETTA KETT ([Old comics girl whose boyfriend was Wingey]). Favorite clues:

  • [World Series game] for TEXAS HOLD 'EM, referring to the World Series of Poker—isn't that a magnificent mislead?
  • [___ mort (dispirited)] for A LA—a cool French phrase I've never used
  • [Squidward Tentacles, for one] for TOON—he's SpongeBob's next-door neighbor, coworker, and nemesis
  • [Block letters?] for SPF, referring to sunblock
  • [Like some sciences] for INEXACT
  • ["Friday Night Lights" player] for ODESSAN—that's a TV series about high-school football based in Odessa, Texas
  • [Tunable drums] for TIMPANI—paying no mind to the logic and having the T and M, I blithely filled in TOMTOMS, which were the wrong drums
  • [Anonymous guy] is MISTER X
  • The [11th-century king of Norway] is OLAV III...but he could also be OLA VIII, the eighth in a distinguished line of kings named Ola
  • [Part of ORU] is ORAL; I hope at least one solver out there wonders what sort of oral sex term is abbreviated ORU 

Speaking of Mister X, Natan Last's New York Times crossword has two full names that end with an X: JIMI HENDRIX, [Follower of Sha Na Na at Woodstock], and CHICO MARX, [Old comedian known for his unique piano-playing style]. The least dictionarified entries in the grid are "CAN I TRY SOME?", [Question while eying someone else's plate], and D-TEN, [Call in the game Battleship]. My favorite entries:
  • RIGMAROLE, or [Elaborate procedure]
  • BEE'S KNEES, or [Living end]
  • ERROL is ["The Fog of War" director Morris]—if you haven't seen this documentary featuring Robert McNamara, rent the DVD. If you think it sounds boring, you'll be amazed at how interesting, human, and relevant it is.
  • C'EST LA VIE, or ["Oh well"]
  • "I AM SO DEAD," or ["My parents are gonna kill me!"]—also not the sort of phrase that's listed in the dictionary, but isn't it terrific? I love it.
  • FLY SOLO, or [Eschew aid]
    LOKI, the [Shape-shifting giant of myth], is sometimes called a trickster—but the [Playful trickster] in this crossword is a PIXIE

Clues that may vex:
  • The [Soapmaking compound] is OLEIC ACID.
  • ["The Wandering Heir" novelist] is the APTLY ([Well]) named READE.
  • [Orsk is on it] means the URAL River.
  • [Rabbit punch landing site] is the NAPE. Is this used in boxing, or is it fighting dirty?
  • [Something to put on before trying] a case is a judge's ROBE.
  • [Peter who wrote "The Last Testament of Oscar Wilde"] is ACKROYD.
  • [Process of molecular synthesis] is ANABOLISM; I presume this has some relation to anabolic steroids.


James Sajdak's LA Times crossword shifts a vowel sound in each theme entry, from a long E to a short I, along the lines of really getting pronounced as rilly. [Sass from a preacher?] is LIP OF FAITH. [Classroom clamor] is DIN OF EDUCATION. [Pickle to die for?] is DILL OF A LIFETIME. [Klutzy pageant entrant?] is SLIPPING BEAUTY. And [Treatment using spirits?] is GIN THERAPY; this is especially popular among fans of the traditional, non-fruit-flavored martini. Did you know [Minnie Mouse's dog] was named FIFI? Or that OPEL is an [Automaker with a lightning bolt logo]? WAX POETIC, clued as [Speak in a rhythmic and flowery way], is an especially nice entry.

Tom Heilman's Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, "Philosophertherance," provides furtherance of philosophers' names. Two of the theme entries are 16 letters long, forcing a 15x16 grid. [Belief that I think, therefore I can do whatever I want?] is a mashup of René Descartes and carte blanche: DESCARTES BLANCHE. [Place to relax while reading "The Social Contract"?] is a ROUSSEAUFABED (Jean-Jacques Rousseau, sofabed). If you don't watch Lost, you may not know that there are characters named Rousseau and Locke. Voltaire and a tearsheet combine into VOLTAIRE SHEET, [Pamphlet that claims this is the best of all possible worlds?]. It was just last week that I learned that Voltaire snagged that optimistic idea from Leibniz and gave it to his character, Dr. Pangloss. Søren Kierkegaard and gardening become KIERKEGAARDENING, [Growing plants by means of a leap of faith?].

Matt Jones's Jonesin' puzzle, "Out With the Old," has a theme. Yes, it does. And I began this paragraph without knowing what it was, but now I see it. Each theme entry includes the letter string NEW, split across word breaks: there's GENE WILDER, for example, and NINE WEST shoes, along with four other phrases. Ambitious grid, with a dozen 7-letter entries in the fill.

Randall Hartman's CrosSynergy crossword, "Let On," puts a LET on the end of each theme entry's base phrase. "Put it on my tab" becomes a [Comment from Moses to God?], PUT IT ON MY TABLET. Favorite fill: HANG TEN, LAB RAT, HOT TUBS.

In the Wall Street Journal, Tracey Snyder's crossword has the memo-ese title "In Re." Each theme entry has an RE put into it. My favorites are [Wave to Billy?] for GREET ONE'S GOAT (get one's goat), [Special Forces order when greeting a lady?] for ALL BERETS ARE OFF (bets), and [Enjoy "The Devil Wears Prada"?] for WATCH ONE'S STREEP (step). I don't remember seeing this Brian ENO clue before: ["My Squelchy Life" musician]; you can scroll down here to read the lyrics. The [Mexican confection] PANOCHA is, Wikipedia says, a New Mexico and southern Colorado pudding as well as a slang term for vulva.