NYS 5:52 with one Google
Do you like chicken satay, but find yourself put off by the bothersome bamboo skewer that keeps the chicken out of your mouth? If you live in Chicago, there's a restaurant that can help you. Sura, a Thai tapas restaurant, serves a "lettuce wrap" appetizer that's essentially chicken satay bits with peanut sauce in a little crispy cup lined with lettuce. So yummy! Sura adds a little crossword-geek chic by having a couple Eero Aarnio bubble chairs. It was just a month ago that Karen Tracey's Sun crossword included EERO Aarnio, and those bubble chairs of his are surprisingly comfy.
Kyle Mahowald's themeless 70-word New York Times crossword has some colorfully colloquial answers in it: NO PAIN, NO GAIN is clued as a [Macho credo], though I daresay the credo is unisex. You don't think Mia HAMM, [Scorer of a record 158 goals] in soccer, was wont to muscle through the pain? (Raise your hand if you also considered PELE at 5-Across.) SIR, NO SIR could be an [Emphatic response during a drill]. I can always get a laugh out of my husband or son by putting on my raspy "thank you, sir, may I please have another" military voice. "Sir, yes sir." STRIP POKER is clued as a [Game in which players barely bet?]. When they begin betting, they're not bare yet.
Clues of note:
I came to a screeching halt in the southeast corner of Patrick Blindauer's Sun puzzle, "Big Ten." The title refers to the big X (which is the Roman numeral meaning 10) that traverses the grid. It's mostly black squares along the diagonals, with space for two X's in the line in each quadrant. The middle four white squares are unchecked thanks to the black squares' pattern, but those four squares are all filled with an X. Where did I run into trouble? At the perfect storm where four Across answers meet two Down answers:
I like the X gimmick just fine, but that corner seemed borderline unfair. Maybe I'm the only one not up on my Santana albums and the names of marathon founders? The 12 X's in the grid were included in some cool answers:
Don Gagliardo's LA Times crossword changes -ence and -ance words at the ends of the theme entries into plural -ents and -ants words:
Did you know [Uncle Scrooge, for one] was a SCOT? I didn't. UXOR is a [Wife, in legalese]. I remember the ["Airplane!" heroine] ELAINE, played by Julie Hagerty. I didn't know that a [Nasty "Pearls Before Swine" character] was RAT; is that a rat, or a character named Rat? REDFERN is clued as a [Sydney suburb], but I daresay the "Doonesbury" character Rick Redfern is more familiar to American solvers. [Subject of a parental caution] is STRANGERS here. I had a tough time settling into the constructor and editor's wavelength in the clues—did you have that experience?
Tony Orbach and Patrick Blindauer's Wall Street Journal crossword, "Doubled Down," might offer a welcome respite to Wall Streeters. Except...ALAN Greenspan, the FDIC, NYSE, and the ENRON bankruptcy are in the grid as reminders of economic crisis, and while the word UP appears in three phrases (REST UP, END UP AT, and ICED UP)—it's always going down. The theme entries are all Downs with double-D's inserted into them to change a phrase's meaning:
My favorite non-thematic answers were PLATYPI ([Egg-laying mammals]), DODO BIRDS ([Pigeons' extinct kin]), LAGUARDIA ([Mayor nicknamed "the Little Flower"] owing to his first name, Fiorello), RIP TORN (["Men in Black" actor]), and DARNED IF I DO ([First half of a lose-lose comment]).
Nancy Salomon's CrosSynergy crossword offers more of an escape from worldly cares. In "Plentiful Plots," the theme entries are all places where fruit grows, always clued [Fruitful land]. There's a STRAWBERRY FIELD, an APPLE ORCHARD, a CRANBERRY BOG, and a WATERMELON PATCH. Yum! But wait: No ORANGE GROVE as a sop to my online pseudonym? Fine, fine—it doesn't always have to be about me. The fill includes spoken language like PARDON ME, MY STARS, NO CAN DO, and HON; TUBE TOPS, and I wish there were a way to cross-reference that to the AHAB clue; and MOJO, clued as [Voodoo spell].
Pancho Harrison's Chronicle of Higher Education puzzle, "Avon Calling," features five phrases the English language picked up from William Shakespeare, the Bard of Avon:
HOUSEHOLD WORD is especially apt, as that term describes plenty of words and phrases that are household words only because Shakespeare gave them a platform to become broadly known. My favorite answer here is WHAT HO, [Bertie Wooster's greeting]. I use that greeting myself sometimes, but didn't know where I picked it up. (My "What what?" comes from the movie, The Madness of King George.)
October 09, 2008