August 04, 2008

Tuesday, 8/5

Tausig 4:46
Onion 4:38
NYS 3:38
CS 3:06
LAT 3:05
NYT 3:00

(post updated at 3 p.m. Tuesday)

The New York Times crossword is Joon and Caroline Pahk's professional constructing debut. I love the theme of ANAGRAMMED NAMES. The other three theme entries are the real names of famous people, and the clues include anagrams of their names that they used in some fashion:

  • [Writer who created the character Vivian Darkbloom] is VLADIMIR NABOKOV. Those two names are anagrams of each other.
  • [Singer who nicknamed himself Mr. Mojo Risin'] is JIM MORRISON.
  • The more tortured one is [Author/illustrator who used the pseudonym Ogdred Weary], EDWARD GOREY.
The constructors' names anagram to OKRA IN CHAPEL and JAN P. HOOK, in case you wondered. They've squeezed plenty of Scrabbly fill into their puzzle. There's ZEAL, or [Fervor]; MISTER X, or [Unidentified man]; and QATAR, or [Doha's land], to name a few. Most interesting clues (including a good bit of literary stuff):
  • The [Real-life scientist played by David Bowie in "The Prestige," 2006] is Nikola TESLA. (His fellow scientist Thomas ALVA Edison is nearby.)
  • The ILIAD is the [Work that begins "Sing, goddess, the wrath of Peleus son..."].
  • TITO is one [Older brother of Michael Jackson]. I'm always pleased to get Tito Jackson in lieu of Josip Broz Tito.
  • [End of an illness?] is the suffix -ITIS, which connotes inflammation.
  • [Talk smack about] is just as slangy as DIS.
  • [Snorri Sturluson work] is an old EDDA.
  • ["Saturday Night Live" genre] is SATIRE, while ["Saturday Night Live" bits] are SKITS.
  • ["The Great Gatsby" gambler Wolfsheim]'s first name was MEYER.
  • This one's more obscure than interesting—[Lower the allowed electrical capacity of] is DERATE. Joon knows physics; I don't.
  • [Big movie fan's option?] is IMAX.
  • One [Cambridge sch.] is MIT. Joon's at the other one.

Journalists are well represented here, too—TIM Russert, Tom BROKAW, and [Newspaperman Harold] EVANS.

The New York Sun puzzle by Randall Hartman is called "Horse Around" because the six theme entries have a horse word around some other letters, as you can see in the grid.
  • The [Region of the South] called the COTTON BELT has a COLT.
  • [Going rate of sorts], or MARKET PRICE, has a MARE.
  • ROGER CORMAN, with a ROAN-colored horse, is the [Filmmaker nicknames "King of the B's"].
  • A GELDING is in the G.E. BUILDING, [Where "SNL" is shot]. I wonder if this one was the seed entry for the whole theme.
  • The [1993 film about an orca], FREE WILLY, contains FILLY.
  • [Caribbean combo] is a STEEL BAND, with STEED. For whatever reason, this horse took me a long time to find.
In the fill, we have a not-so-common word that's also in the Tuesday NYT: TIKI. Over yonder, it's got a ["Kon-___"] clue, while the Sun has [Former Giants running back Barber]. Favorite entries include TAIWAN, DOLLOP, and UNESCO. Aaand...I'll leave off there, since we're in the midst of the evening's second ridiculously dramatic thunderstorm.


Randall Hartman's name is also atop today's CrosSynergy puzzle, "I'm Starting Off." Each of three theme entries (all 15 letters long) receives IM at the beginning, hence the "I'm" is "starting off." [Like the Cotton State after a natural disaster?] is IMMOBILE ALABAMA. To [Bring in the National Guard?] is to IMPORT AUTHORITY. And [Water carrier's snapshot?] is IMAGE OF AQUARIUS. Lots of names in the fill—I counted 15 (real) people's names, plus a handful of fictional characters. For me, a puzzle jampacked with names flows smoothly and feels easy. Hey, is it wrong that when I had the B** in place for [Hulk Hogan accessory], I first thought of BRA? (It's a BOA.)

Stella Daily and Bruce Venzke constructed the LA Times crossword. The theme entries all begin with words that pertain to NO WAY OUT, [1987 Costner film, and a hint to this puzzle's theme]. The other three theme entries begin with words that are also synonymous verbs:
  • TRAP DOOR is a [Secret exit, maybe].
  • CORNER THE MARKET means to [Gain control of a commodity].
  • TREE-LINED STREET is a [Stereotypical suburban scene], though there are so many subdivisions adorned only with skinny saplings.

There was one answer I had to completely rely on the crossings for, [Donna Reed costar Carl] BETZ. Answers that were easier to get because I've seen them in numerous crosswords before:
  • OPAH is a [Brightly colored fish].
  • The last name of [Violin virtuoso Leopold] is AUER.
  • [Vaulted church recess] is an APSE.
  • [Classic Jags] are the old sportscars called Jaguar XKES. (One is a Jaguar XKE.)
  • [Birthright seller] is ESAU from the Bible.
  • [Consecrate using oil] is ANOINT.
  • [Indian princess] is RANEE, a variant of RANI. Her counterpart, a prince in India, is a RAJA or RAJAH.
  • [Parts of pedestals] are DADOES.

Updated again:

I think I might be missing something in Ben Tausig's Ink Well/Chicago Reader crossword, "A Broad Take." As 17- and 23-Across explain, the first word of each of four theme entries are A LETTER FROM / A FOREIGN COUNTRY. LAS VEGAS WEDDING begins with LAS, which is Laos without the O, hence the "(+o)" notation in that clue. SPIN DOCTORS start with an A-less Spain. CUB SCOUT +a gives us Cuba, and MANSTAND ([The act of waiting for a partner to finish shopping, per the Urban Dictionary]) has Oman without the O. Is there a reason it's those "letters from a foreign country," or those letters in particular? Or is Ben just playing on the double meaning of a character from the name of a country vs. a letter mailed by a person in a foreign country? Favorite clues:
  • [Wide ___] for STANCE.
  • [Like 64-Across, pretty much as soon as it came out] for DATED, 64-Across being the Sandra Bullock movie THE NET.
  • [Likely 2008 playoff team in both the American and National leagues, on the scoreboard] for CHI. Alas, the Cubbies lost late night in a game interrupted by not one, but two ferocious storms. They're up 6-1 in today's game, which my sister and niece are attending.
  • [Sat out on the counter, perhaps] for THAWED. We all do it, but the food safety experts instruct us to thaw things only in the fridge. This has been your public service announcement for today.
  • [What Kenny G held for 45 minutes and 47 seconds] for ONE NOTE. Wow. If I had been present for that, I think I would have said I'M BORED (["There's nothing to do..."].

Matt Gaffney's Onion A.V. Club crossword has fun with people whose last names double as past-tense verbs. The fictional detective Nancy Drew is commanded, ["Sketch us a picture, super-sleuth!"]—or NANCY, DRAW! Enron's Kenneth Lay is transformed to KENNETH, LIE! That clue's particularly apt—["Cook your books, Enron man!"]. William Hung and Charlie Rose yield WILLIAM, HANG and CHARLIE, RISE. These four are thematically tied together by the advice, STOP LIVING / IN THE PAST. Excellent theme, isn't it? In the fill, MOM is a particularly apt answer for the clue [Kid's shout]. I had to pause the Across Lite timer while solving this puzzle to help my kid, in fact, right after I'd filled in 6-Across. [Feel unloved, perhaps] is the clue for NEED A HUG; if you're in the market for toddler-friendly board books, you can't go wrong with Jez Alborough's Hug. I remember the Arthur TREACHER's Fish and Chips chain, but didn't know Treacher was a [British actor for whom a fast-food fish chain is named]. Maternal duty calls again—I'm out.