May 04, 2008

Monday, 5/5

NYS 3:47
NYT 2:50 (honest)
CS 2:44
LAT 2:44

The NYT applet hadn't been mucking with my posted time for a few years, but today it was both slow to load (clock already running) and slow to transmit my solution (clock continuing to run). Harrumph! Stella Daily and Bruce Venzke's New York Times crossword has a basic Monday theme—four two-word phrases that rhyme. The [Tourism bureau's offering] is a WELCOME PACKET, [It's swung at Wimbledon] means a TENNIS RACKET, a YELLOW JACKET is a [Pesky wasp], and your INCOME BRACKET [...helps determine how much tax you own the I.R.S.]. [Popeye's creator E.C. ___] SEGAR seems a mite out of place in a Monday grid, but his crossings look pretty gettable. The same goes for IPANA, the [Classic toothpaste brand] that's largely unknown among those 45 and under.

Clues and fill I liked the best:

  • [Meat featured in a Monty Python musical title] for SPAM, referring to Spamalot.
  • ["Look what I did!" for "TA-DA!"
  • [Cry when a light bulb goes on] for "GAH, IT'S TOO BRIGHT. MY EYES. MY EYES!"—no, wait, I meant "AHA."
  • MAD MONEY, or [Small amount of cash saved for an emergency].
  • JUILLIARD is the [Noted performing arts school] in Manhattan, of course.
  • [A question of identity] is "WHO?"
  • A SKOSH is a [Smidgen].

Alan Arbesfeld's "Fish Sandwiches" crossword in the New York Sun is making me hungry. No, wait, I was hungry already. There are five theme phrases hiding kinds of fish within them, split between two words:
  • The Senate's an UPPER CHAMBER containing perch.
  • SWISS ALMOND ice cream isn't salmon-colored.
  • The SHERMAN TANK has a manta.
  • The ubiquitous cod swims in a DISCO DANCER.
  • Crosswords' favorite fish, the eel, lurks in TRACE ELEMENT.

There was an unfamiliar name, ["Bringing Down the House" author Mezrich]. His first name is BEN. What does Prof. Google tell me? Oh! It's the book the movie 21 is based on, about MIT hotshots who made a bundle counting cards at the blackjack tables in Vegas. Good fill, with a dozen 6-letter words and a pair of 9s. (A full house with seven extra 6s?)


Martin Ashwood-Smith's CrosSynergy crossword is called "End Zone," and each 15-letter theme entry begins with a terminal word: CLOSING ARGUMENTS, ULTIMATE FRISBEE, and LAST MAN STANDING. (No room here for FINAL ANSWER.) There's a baseball subtext here, with HOME RUNS, the ATLANTA Braves, and SHEA Stadium. Now, HOME plate is the "end zone" if you're running the bases, but the answer that's opposite it in the grid is ICE WATER and I don't think ICE represents an end.

Gail Grabowski's LA Times puzzle is a classic Monday puzzle, with easy theme entries plus an "aha" moment when the explanatory entry at 60-Across unfolds. The fill is also clear of obscurities. The PASTA SHAPES begin the other four theme entries: TUBE SOCKS (oh, please, don't make me think of sweat socks and food together!), BOWLINE, SPIRAL-BOUND, and SHELL GAME. My favorite clue is [Styles for Jimi Hendrix and Richard Roundtree] for AFROS because a good friend of mine danced with Richard Roundtree when she was four or five. Shaft!