(post updated at 2:35 p.m. Friday)
Wow, it is tough to concentrate on crosswords when a member of the household insists on watching a TiVoed episode of Wipeout at the same time. I had to pause the Across Lite timer multiple times during the Sun puzzle when my husband was pointing out particularly hilarious tumbles on the part of the contestants. (They end up in mud or water if they don't safely complete each step of the obstacle course, and there's a lot of bouncing off giant balls.) I'm just lucky he didn't turn the show on until after I'd finished the NYT puzzle, as the applet offers no pause option.
John Farmer's New York Times crossword has some really impressive quadrants. Look at those corners with triple-stacked 9-letter entries crossed by a six-pack of 6's! That's some good-lookin' white space in this 66-worder. The marquee entry is JUMPIN' JACK FLASH, the [Rolling Stones hit just before "Honky Tonk Women"]. Did the Stones do HASHEESH ([Weed])? My favorite entries and clues are:
I also want to mention these:
Unfavorite answers (but I can forgive 'em all, because I like the stuff that surrounds them):
Moving along to the New York Sun "Weekend Warrior," we have a joint production from Doug Peterson and Barry Silk. The grid's anchored by a pair of intersecting 15s, the CHICAGO WHITE SOX and a NUMBER TWO PENCIL. The SOX clue was [Team with the 1980s mascots Ribbie and Roobarb], and neither my husband nor I remembered this one. Which is fine—we live in Cubs territory. Speaking of baseball, 1-Across is [Turns up], and "turns" is a noun there—they're AT-BATS. Lots of short 'n' slangy clues right off the bat—[Bunk], [Heaps], and [Nuts] sounds like a breakfast cereal, but they're CLAPTRAP (a fun word), CRATES, and MADMEN (non-S plural—hello, Friday!). My favorite clue is at 2-Down: [What this clue have] are BAD GRAMMAR.
Other favorite clues:
Robert Doll's LA Times puzzle changes a J into an H, sort of as if the J's needed to be pronounced the Spanish way. ["You Can Heal Your Life" author Louise on a constitutional?] is HAY WALKING (jaywalking), but I don't know that Louise Hay is well-known enough to anchor a theme entry. Wikipedia informs me that her publishing company published Deepak Chopra. [Assembly of radio operators?] is a HAM SESSION (jam session). [Camel rider's attire?] is a HUMP SUIT (jumpsuit). HOLLY ROGER, HACK CHEESE ([Cabbie's snack?]), and HUNK BOND round out the sizeable theme. Several clues really made me work for the answers:
Randolph Ross's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Sounds Simple to Me," features five phrases in which the first word contains a series of letters pronounced like the word "easy," spelled five different way. There's a CHEESY JOKE, or [Bad attempt at humor] (what is it about cheese and corn that allowed them to be redefined as good-natured badness?). BREEZY WEATHER makes for [Good conditions for kiting]. An [Unscrupulous person] is a SLEAZY CHARACTER. [Seasickness] is a QUEASY FEELING (Sing it with me: "I've got a peaceful, queasy feeling..."). And the EZ-PASS LANE is the [Fast way through a toll plaza in some states; Illinois uses the I-Pass instead. Favorite entries: ZOHAN, Adam Sandler's title character this summer (Nobody Messes With the Zohan); the CYRILLIC alphabet; and ["Right Place, Wrong Time" singer] DR. JOHN.
Sharon Peterson's Chronicle of Higher Education puzzle, "Home Finance," has a quote theme that isn't new to me, but I had a rough time piecing it together thanks to the Down clues crossing the quote. For example, [Macgillicuddy's ___ (Irish mountain range)]—with *E*K* in place, it sure looked like PEAKS. Nope, it's Macgillicuddy's REEKS. For [One of three virtues mentioned in Corinthians], I entered LOVE instead of HOPE, which mucked up the top middle for a bit. I was at a loss for [You might get one to spare?] for far too long—bowling, yes, but TENPIN wasn't coming to mind. Favorite clue: [It's on the school board?] for CHALK. More erudite entries include words from classics—HESIOD, ["Theogony" poet]; geography—KARST, [Area likely to have sinkholes]; and lit—["Lord Jim" ship], PATNA. The quote spelled out in the theme is "THE TIME TO / REPAIR / THE ROOF IS WHEN / THE SUN / IS SHINING," spoken by JFK (33-Down, right in the center of the grid).
Sorry for the delay in posting about Pancho Harrison's Wall Street Journal crossword, "Union Perks." I went to the gym and then out to lunch, where the waitress opted to give us a leisurely paced European experience. But hey, at least we were sitting on the restaurant's patio on a beautiful day. Anyway—in the comments, Dan mentioned a lightning-speed solving time for this puzzle, which indicated that it was going to be unusually easy for a WSJ puzzle. It was (though I haven't yet cracked the 5:00 mark on an easy Sunday-sized crossword). The theme provided little help in solving—I mean, I noticed the precious materials included in the theme entries, but had no idea why there were parenthetical numbers after the theme clues or why the title was "Union Perks." Oh! ANNIVERSARY GIFT, of course, the years associated with the gift given in parentheses. I'm just now realizing that each theme phrase is actually a famous person's name, which explains why the paper anniversary is omitted—and the name aspect makes the theme nice and tight. I'm partial to RUBE GOLDBERG and SHEL SILVERSTEIN, with their gifts embedded in their last names rather than standing alone (as in BILLY CRYSTAL, MINNIE PEARL, ELIJAH WOOD, JAMES IVORY, and NEIL DIAMOND). Favorite entries: SCOT-FREE ([Totally unscathed]); the villainous ["Les Miserables" inspector] JAVERT; Uncle Scrooge MCDUCK; and BLUEBEARD.
July 24, 2008