September 24, 2008

Thursday, 9/25

NYS 5:19
NYT 4:33
LAT 4:27
CS 2:47

(updated at 9:30 a.m. Thursday)

Vic Fleming's New York Times crossword contains eight theme entries, all with the same clue, [Draws]. The theme answers are short, but they criss-cross in pairs in all four quadrants.

  • In the northwest corner, 17-Across is RECEIPTS and 4-Down is TIE GAMES. I'm not sure I understand how RECEIPTS goes with [Draws]. Who will elucidate?
  • Moving to the northeast, 26-Across is GETS CARDS, which sounds more like a clue phrase than a crossword answer. It intersects with 11-Down, INFERS, as in draws a conclusion.
  • In the southwest quadrant, [Draws] means PULLS A GUN at 49-Across and CLOSES, as in the drapes, at 46-Down.
  • The southeast gives us SKETCHES at 58-Across and ATTRACTS at 37-Down.

Wow, I drew a blank on the [Tony player on "NYPD Blue"], and all I could think of was Jimmy Smits and his Bobby Simone character. Eventually ESAI Morales percolated up to the surface. Knowing that there's a Clearwater, Florida, I almost put FLA for [Home of the Clearwater Mtns.], which of course are not in the very flat Sunshine State—they're in IDA., or Idaho. I don't quite feel that a HEEL is a [Sole support]; doesn't a shoe's heel support, well, the heel? I had zero idea who the [Female companion in "Doctor Who"] was—LEELA is also the name of one of the main character's in Futurama. [Board with a couple seats] isn't a corporate board—it's a SEESAW. Although any investment bank's board probably feels like a seesaw right about now—or maybe a precipitously steep corkscrew slide. Favorite answer, on account of its sheer weirdness: SPURGE, or [Poinsettia's family].

The "Themeless Thursday" puzzle in the New York Sun is by Jeffrey Harris. Medium difficulty as these things go, no? Favorite answers and clues:
  • DISCO BALL! Clued as a [Go-go gadget?].
  • For the ink to [Go off the edge of the page] is for it to BLEED. Who doesn't like printing technology?
  • The [British logician famous for his diagrams] is VENN. Have you all seen Jessica Hagy's blog, Indexed? She draws Venn diagrams on index cards and posts them. The latest one shows that Henry Paulson exists in the intersection between Marx and Engels.
  • [Taiwan's setting] kept wanting to be EAST ASIA, but [Asia, e.g.] is a BAND and that clue steals ASIA out of the grid. Taiwan's situated in the CHINA SEA. Possible cryptic crossword clue: Leno sailing along the coast of Taiwan (5,3).
  • LIBIDOS are [Drives in the back seat of a car?] if your standards for comfort are low.
  • Louise LASSER was the ["Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman" star] in the '70s. I wonder how that show bears up over time. 

Scott Atkinson's LA Times crossword walks us through the dramatic solving process of an overconfident crossword solver:
  • ["Today's crossword? Piece of cake!"] clues the early boast, THIS IS SIMPLE. I would go with "this is so easy," personally.
  • Getting into the puzzle with ["No mistakes so far!"], the solver asks WHO NEEDS ERASERS? I would say "Who needs an eraser?" in the singular.
  • The solver thinks ["Hmm...maybe not so easy after all"], and says UH-OH, I'M IN TROUBLE.
  • Utterly stymied, our hapless solver grumbles ["%$^#!"], or STUPID PUZZLE.
In defense of crosswords, I must point out that the puzzles I blog about will almost never fall in the category of "stupid puzzle." There are crappy puzzles out there with mistakes, terrible fill, or bad clues that will irk even the aptest solver, but they're not the ones I blog about. If solvers find themselves grumbling, "Stupid puzzle," they're usually just mad that their skills weren't up to the challenge. But those skills are definitely amenable to improvement. (By reading my book, following the blogs, looking up unfamiliar answers and clues, and making a point of remembering those short words that are so crossword-friendly.)

In the fill, I got slowed down by [Catalogued compositions]. The word opus was already in the OCTETS clue, [Mendelssohn's Opus 20 and others], so it couldn't be OPUSES...except that it was. Having done a quick test-solve/edit of PhillySolver's puzzle that's posted at the Fiend forum, I learned that I wasn't at all attuned to catching that kind of duplication between clue and fill words. D'oh!

Patrick Blindauer's CrosSynergy crossword, "Splitting Airs," hides the word SONG (67-Across) inside each of the four otherwise disparate theme entries:
  • [Alcatraz worker, once] is a PRISON GUARD.
  • [2000 American League MVP] is JASON GIAMBI.
  • [Idealized American women of the 1890s] were GIBSON GIRLS.
  • [Diphosgene and radon, e.g.] are POISON GASES.
Favorite fill and clues:
  • The [NCAA tetrad] is the FINAL FOUR in the spring basketball tournament.
  • [Frosty's pipe tipe] is CORNCOB.
  • Remember GERI [Jewell of "The Facts of Life"]? This actress and comedian is one of the few famous people with cerebral palsy.
  • [Gets a "five-finger discount"] means SHOPLIFTS. I shoplifted just once, and it truly was an accident.