(updated at 11:30 Saturday morning)
Anyone interested in doing a little guest-blogging next weekend? I've got someone in mind (the quirky Janie) for the Sunday NYT writeup, but that leaves the four Saturday puzzles (NYT, LAT, Newsday, CrosSynergy) and four Sundays (Merl Reagle, Boston Globe, LAT, themeless CrosSynergy). Shoot me an e-mail (orangexw with a gmail.com domain) if you'd like to throw your hat in the ring. Thanks!
Will Nediger closes out Teen Week with a themeless New York Times crossword. Let me get my foremost grumble out of the way. No fair cluing the next James Bond movie with no reference to the fact that it doesn't open for another two months! [Film in which Olga Kurylenko plays the Bond girl] is the upcoming QUANTUM OF SOLACE—bonus points for the Q, demerits for the incomprehensible-sounding title. And now, here are the clues that are likely to stymie the most people:
What else did I like in the fill? I love the word FEY, or [Elflike]. A JUICE BAR is a [Place to buy a smoothie]. ANNE RICE gets a good trivia clue, [Author born Howard Allen O'Brien]. What were her parents thinking? [You shouldn't go through with it] is easy to misinterpret; you shouldn't go through the intersection with a RED LIGHT. MENTOS, the Freshmaker! That's a [Candy brand. YEAR ZERO gave me fits trying to figure it out; the clue is [Beginning of time?] and it all seems so clear now. YMA SUMAC occasionally gets full-name status; she's that crosswordy [Singer famous for her wide vocal range. [Main route?] refers to the German place name, Main, so it's the AUTOBAHN. ["You're doing it all wrong!"] is a perfect clue for NO, NO, NO!
If you're in the Houston area, you probably aren't reading this on Saturday because your power is out. Hope you're all safe and weathering Ike as well as can be expected.
I liked Barry Silk's LA Times crossword today. I have to laugh at FO' SHIZZLE (or [Certainly, to Snoop Dogg]) showing up in the crossword. Is that phrase played out yet? Apparently Snoop Dogg said he was through with it in 2004, but then he used it in a car commercial the following year. And it's gone mainstream, so it's out of Snoop's hands now. Three 15-letter answers provide the structure for this puzzle: LASER EYE SURGERY [might eliminate the need for specs]. ALL SKIN AND BONES means [Really thin]. And [Title words following "don't say you're sorry, 'cause I'm just not concerned," in 1966-'67 hit] are TELL IT TO THE RAIN, which I don't know at all. I'm not convinced that [Eng. driver's concern] is KPH. Meaning driving speed, a metric version of MPH? I think the English use "km/h" when they speed metrically.
The Newsday "Saturday Stumper" by Dan Stark isn't too tough this weekend. I counted 44 clues that contain 10 or fewer letters, so a lot of one's progress through a Stumper must rely on lucking into thinking of the right interpretation for a short, opaque clue with multiple meanings. Today, I was not so unlucky, but the southeast corner of the grid is where I ran into the most trouble. [Get on] could mean "get along" as well as the physical BOARD. A [Being] could be a MORTAL, person, or entity as well as the verb. [High-strung] evokes a number of specific adjectives other than EMOTIONAL. [Observes] has plenty of synonyms, including TAKES NOTE. [Made more attractive] can be literal or, as it is here, metaphorical, as in "SWEETENED the deal." [One way to travel] is TOURIST class and not a means of travel, while [One way to go] is the semi-awkward phrase RIDE AWAY. [Piggies' protection] is a baby BOOTEE. I had SPEED for [Go fast] initially, but it's the slangy SMOKE. [Opened] in cards, perhaps, is LED, but there are other senses of the word. Elsewhere in the fill, my favorite bits were MISMANAGE, or [Run badly], and PAMPHLETS, or [Waiting-room reading], with that jumble of consonants in the middle. I'm guessing that ["Camarade"] is French for "comrade" or "buddy," as the answer is AMI. Camaraderie is utterly familiar, but I haven't seen camarade before.
Stella Daily and Bruce Venzke's CrosSynergy crossword theme seems familiar, but familiarity need not breed contempt. (Familiarity does, however, breed solving speed.) The theme in "This One's a TTTT" involves words that sound like plurals of letter names:
[Travel on an ocean liner, alphabetically?] is SAIL THE OPEN CCCC, with CCCC standing in for "seas."
[Baby food, alphabetically?] is STRAINED PPPP, or peas.
[Wordy contests, alphabetically?] are SPELLING BBBB, or bees.
[1993 World Series winners, alphabetically?] are the TORONTO BLUE JJJJ, or Jays.
Geeze (or GGGG?), what sort of word can run beneath four J's? It's going to need four consecutive vowels or a p for JPEG, isn't it? How about five vowels instead? AEIOU, or [Alphabetic quintet], it is. Timely answer: PRECIP or [Rain, snow, or sleet, for short]. The northern part of the Chicago area is to accumulate a good 6" of rain this weekend, and then there's Hurricane Ike traversing Texas and heading north.
September 12, 2008