NYS untimed (drat!)
What? It's Tuesday in the morning? Wait. It's the weekend. How is this happening?
The New York Times crossword is by Adam Perl, who included his first and last names as the first and last Across answers. Sorry, but I don't think [1995 Physics Nobelist Martin L.] PERL is quite well-known enough for a Tuesday puzzle—especially when one letter crosses a name from a lesser Disney production. [Disney's "___ and the Detectives"] is completed by EMIL. Did somebody say "Detectives"? Here's Elvis Costello performing "Watching the Detectives" back in 1977. (Sounds much the same in this year's concert tour, but Elvis has added three decades' worth of age and weight and whiskers since then.) Maybe I would have been more favorably disposed to the self-name-dropping in the grid, but I had been taken aback by the clue for BRAT: [Kid you might feel like smacking]. That is not gonna give the warm fuzzies to any solver who's experienced or witnessed child abuse, now, is it? As for the theme, there are three 15s that are 17-letter phrases minus an ID, tied together by NO ID: [Reason to be barred from a bar...or the theme of this puzzle]. SCENE OF AN ACCENT (accident) is [E.S.L. class, perhaps]. CONTINENTAL DIVE (divide) is [Seedy hangout across the Atlantic?] Ooh, speaking of continental—here's a video of Christopher Walken on SNL as "The Continental." The third theme entry's RAP RESPONSE TEAM (rapid), or [Hip-hop critics?].
Mike Torch's New York Sun puzzle, "Plastic Surgery Gone Bad," has some juicy "aha!" moments in the theme. Now, most people visiting plastic surgeons and hoping to look like celebrities aren't focusing on their lower limbs, but that awkward concept gives the best "aha": [What the plastic surgeon created after I asked to look like a "Star Wars" actress?] are PORTMAN TOES—Natalie Portman from the newer batch of Star Wars installments crossed with portmanteau. Johnny CASH EARS (cashiers), Anais NIN KNEES (ninnies), and Billy CRYSTAL EYES (crystallize) round out this multi-layered pun theme. Lots of little hits of geography in the fill here—OSAKA, SYRIA, OTOE County, OMAN crossing SAMOA, SEDONA. [Torture ___ (genre of the "Saw" films)] for PORN (the term's a good way to point out the unseemliness of this gruesome horror genre). Good fill: EAT CROW, SNOW JOB split into two pieces, END ZONE, CAJUN, ZYGOTE.
Today's LA Times crossword may be Susan Miskimins' debut as a published constructor. The four longest entries are starred and their last parts can follow the word FINGER (50-Down):
That last one is, I think, the weakest member of the theme, since a more literal thumbnail is actually a fingernail, whereas the other theme entries aren't finger-related. Highlights in the fill are the quartet of 8-letter entries, including Ol' BLUE EYES (Sinatra), a weather FORECAST (Chicago's forecast today: Too %@$#* cold! In the 40s!), and a DEMOCRAT ([Jackson was the first to become president]). CHEF is clued as [Bobby Flay, for one]; it behooves me to mention that Deb Amlen has anagrammed that to "Flabby Boy."
Randolph Ross's (apologies for earlier having Randall Hartman's name in there) CrosSynergy puzzle, "Dirty Doings," contains a bunch of dirty puns—about literal dirt. [Messy, gooey dessert?] is KEY SLIME PIE (ewww). [Admonition to chimney sweeps about not getting anyone else dirty?] is SOOT YOURSELVES (I kinda like this one). [Oily buildup that's been around a long time?] is ANCIENT GREASE (not to be confused with retirement grease). GRIME DOESN'T PAY is [Judge's advice about cleaning up?], though the aforementioned "retirement grease" concept belies this theme entry. GUNK SCIENCE, or [Subject in which sludge is studied?], plays on "junk science." Look, there's an ORANGE in the fill! I am, of course, an excellent [Vitamin C source]—no scurvy here.
May 26, 2008