May 10, 2008

Sunday, 5/11

NYT 9:15ish, not counting typos
LAT 8:39
BG 8:38
PI 7:35
CS tba

Happy Mother's Day to everyone such wishes apply to! And to everyone else, I hope you're having a lovely spring weekend. It's a mite chilly in Chicago, and we do indeed hunger for warmer weather. In the meantime, the crabapple blossoms perfume my neighborhood, and crabapple blossoms rank right up there with fresh raspberries and strawberries as my favorite aromas.

Time for just one crossword before I go: Merl Reagle's Philadelphia Inquirer/L.A. Weekly puzzle. The one that's in Across Lite this weekend—which may or may not sync up with the Philadelphia paper or Merl's website—is "Literal 'Concentration.'" The Notepad says, In this puzzle, some of the most common rebus words—like those seen almost daily on the classic game show Concentration—get to just "bee" themselves for a change. For example, DEER DIARY is [Bambi's journal?] rather than a picture of a deer + diary = "Dear Diary." [When cleaning furniture, something definitely not to use?] clues LYE ON THE SOFA. Wait, can one make a recognizable picture of lye? I'm too young to have watched Concentration, I think, so I don't know how closely Merl's theme hews to the ways of the game show. Given my dearth of exposure to the show, this theme didn't give me the warm fuzzies of nostalgic enchantment. This sort of rebus puzzle isn't my cup of tea. But Merl's puzzle is generally one of the most reliably entertaining Sunday crosswords out there—often he wallows in the loopy sort of wordplay that I enjoy.

Carry on with your discussions of this and other crosswords whilst I have myself a rock-n-roll evening. Cheers!


Wow, the Police still know how to play. So does Elvis Costello and his band (the Impostors), who opened. All solidly in the Boomer-plus age group, but they haven't forgotten how to play their instruments. The schoolgirl crush I had on Sting in 1983? It's back.

Well, I've got to leave in 45 minutes for Mother's Day brunch and I haven't showered yet, so I have to be quick here. I just did Tony Orbach and Patrick Blindauer's New York Times crossword, "Done With Ease." The theme entries change a short-I sound into a long-E sound (essentially the way the rest of the Indo-European world pronounces an I, right?). NBAER Tim Duncan turns into yo-yo experts, TEAM DUNCAN. My favorite theme entry was MINNESOTA TWEENS. [One willing to take a bullet for Martin or Charlie], SHEEN GUARD, was great too. The theme is explained by 93-Down, ELONGATE, hinting at the long vowel shift. Plenty of lively fill, starting right away at 1-Across with NETS FAN (edited to add: whoops, make that JETS FAN and JANOS, a much more plausible Hungarian name) and continuing through ROLLED IN, USE FORCE, UNICEF, KAZOOS, QUASH beside AZTEC, and a snarky "OH, SURE." I had a typo at 1-Down, NENOS instead of NANOS for [___ Kadar, 1950s-'80s Hungarian leader]; not a name I recognize, so the fact that I typed ECETONE for ACETONE escaped my notice when I moved by eyes from 20-Across to 1-Down. There's another typo or error somewhere in the grid, but a couple tours of the grid didn't make it jump out and I gotta book here. Nice puzzle, guys!

I hope to finish up the other crosswords later today when I return home from the suburbs.

Updated Sunday night:

Henry Hook's Boston Globe puzzle, "Rodent Tracks," includes a passel of rodent puns for the theme. In my favorite, Jabba turns into GERBIL THE HUTT. The other critters involved are a beaver, vole, marmot, lemming, gopher, and cavy. One completely unfamiliar entry for me: CYO, clued as [Rel. group founded in Chicago in 1930]. It's the Catholic Youth Organization, Google tells me.

The LA Times syndicated crossword by Samantha Wine, "Honoring Mama," contains assorted MA__ MA__ theme entries, such as MARY MARTIN, MAGIC MARKER, and MANFRED MANN. Dangerous crossing between [Chess's ___ Lopez opening] (RUY) and [Frequency unit] (FRESNEL). Oddly enough, I just saw FRESNEL for the first time Saturday in the Tribune Media Services puzzle, where it was clued with reference to the lens. Here, it's a unit equal to 10 to the 12th power hertz. Aside from that particular "hmm"-inducing spot, plenty of nice longist fill here.

Am too tired to address the themeless CrosSynergy puzzle tonight—will catch up with that in the morning.