September 17, 2008

Thursday, 9/18

NYS 4:30
NYT 4:24
LAT 3:47
CS 3:21

(Updated at 10:15 Thursday morning)

Darn those Cubs. They were supposed to win tonight's game so that when I go tomorrow, that'd be the game when they clinch the NL Central. Is this it? Is this the beginning of the end of a good run? Is this when the Cubs slide into heartbreak again?

The Thursday New York Times crossword is by Mike Nothnagel, and it's got a zigzag path of circled squares across the middle. The letters in those squares spell out the clue for the four theme entries: IT GOES UP AND DOWN. The four [See circles] answers are a WINDOW SHADE, ELEVATOR, SINE WAVE (which is very roughly what the circled squares look like), and, uh, the STOCK MARKET. Yes, the stock market will go up again. Although the midsection of the puzzle basically adds a third direction of checking (across, down, and zigzagging), Nothnagel managed to include an X and Q in the mix. Assorted clues and answers of note:

  • FARSI is the [Language from which "divan" is derived]. Here are other English words derived from Persian, including balcony, caravan, chess, jackal, and khaki.
  • A [Well-dressed, photogenic male] is a GQ TYPE. Byron Walden introduced this bit of fill three years ago in another NYT crossword.
  • [Start time for many a military mission] is DAWN, not D-DAY. Anyone else go down that road?
  • [Check box option on a Spanish survey?] is OTRA, or "other." I don't know if OTRA is more correct than OTRO would be.
  • SLOVAK is a [Language that treats "dz" as a single consonant].
  • I love the word BAIRN, or [Scottish child].
  • [Having one's heart set (on)] clues BENT. Are you BENT on going to the next ACPT, starting February 27?
  • [Hi-___] isn't hi-res, it's hi-FIS. FIS looks weird in the grid.
  • ARTOO-Detoo and the [Defensive retort] AM TOO make a strange-looking pair.
  • The [Attention-getting cry] is LOOK AT ME. Why? Are you as helpless as a kitten?
  • S STAR, or [Relatively cool red giant], and LIE BY, or [Remain inactive], both demanded some key crossings in order to be filled in.

Alex Boisvert's New York Sun crossword, "Those Were the Days," features a [quip by comedian Demetri Martin]: I REMEMBER WHEN / I USED TO BE REALLY / INTO NOSTALGIA. A younger friend of mine has seen this guy perform, I think, but I'd never seen Martin until watching this video (18 minutes of standup from Comedy Central) just now. Funny guy. Alas, I spent so long watching the video that I'm too sleepy to single out other answers and clues from this puzzle. Feel free to call out what you liked—such as the YUMMIEST / EUNUCH.


It took some staring to tease out the theme in Will Nediger's LA Times crossword. Three unrelated stars of film and TV...what connects them? The Greek alphabet:
  • [With 55-Across, "Entrapment" costar] is CATHERINE / ZETA-JONES. She's got a zeta in her last name.
  • ["1st & Ten" star] is DELTA BURKE, whose first name is a Greek letter. Her Wikipedia biography lists her filmography, and that movie doesn't have a link to its own article. Wait, it's not a movie, it's a late-'80s TV series in which she was not the lead. I have no idea why Designing Women wasn't used for the clue instead.
  • ["Pushing Daisies" costar] is CHI MCBRIDE. I haven't watched that, but at least it's a current show. The actor pronounces it "shy," as in Chi-Town, as in Chicago, his hometown. The Greek letter is pronounced with a K sound and a long I.

Tons of Scrabbly and lively fill in this puzzle (with more than the usual amount of 7-letter or longer answers), mingled with some less interesting stuff (FDIC, OJO, BED OF, IRES, e.g.). There are a dozen instances of the letters Z, Q, X, J, and K, in answers like OLD JOKE ([Groan elicitor]), the RAZZIE award for a BAD ACTOR, and QUIZ. Other entries I liked: a SCHLOSS is a [German castle] with just one vowel (like SCHWAS); OJ's lawyer Robert SHAPIRO sits beside ACCUSES; and a TRAPEZE is a [Flying act?]. My son just started an acrobatic and aerial dance class on Monday that combines tumbling with trapeze action.

Randall Hartman's CrosSynergy crossword, "Cheers," uses its title to evoke bars, as in the TV bar called Cheers. 55-Across, [In jail (and a hint to 17-, 25-, and 41-Across)], is BEHIND BARS, and the behind of each theme entry is another word for "bar":
  • The SIERRA CLUB is an [Environmental organization established in 1892].
  • LIFE IS A CABARET are [Lyrics associated with Liza Minnelli]. In this case, the "bar" is actually a sort of bar.
  • UNIVERSAL JOINT is not marijuana for all—it's a [Drive shaft connection] and not remotely in my vocabulary.
Good fill, with relatively little of the stale stuff that fills in the cracks in a great many crosswords. The fill includes two 10-letter answers. SIMMER DOWN is clued with the exhortation ["Take a chill pill!"], and IN A PIG'S EYE is a skeptical ["Yeah...right!"].