November 28, 2008

Saturday, 11/29

LAT 5:55
NYT 5:45 (the applet claims 5:58, but my browser froze for 13 seconds and I want the credit)
Newsday tba
CS tba

I'm not sure I'll get to all of the other Saturday puzzles on Saturday morning—we're heading up north for the weekend, and if I don't wake up early enough...

The charming and delightful PuzzleGirl will be your Dear Leader for the rest of the weekend, handling the Sunday crossword blogging duties. (Thanks, PG!)

Barry Silk's Saturday New York Times crossword has a terrific grid layout—each corner has four long answers (9 to 10 letters), giving it room for lots of interesting longer phrases and words. The shorter answers that cross them are pretty smooth (like Silk) and accessible, with no obscure abbreviations. And then! The middle! The middle of this puzzle with 90° symmetry has a 2x2 block of all Z's.

My favorites among the long answers:

  • [Sole deciding issue] is a LITMUS TEST.
  • Your CONSCIENCE is represented by the [Angel on one's shoulder].
  • BEER COOLER is a [Container at many a cookout].
  • [King Edward VIII, e.g.] was an ABDICATOR.
  • MADAGASCAR is ["The eighth continent," to ecologists].
  • NECTARINES are delicious, juicy, [Smooth-skinned fruit].
  • I don't like AM I TO BLAME as much, but it's sandwiched between MADAGASCAR and NECTARINES with 100% solid crossings, and it's not hard to get it from the clue, [Question that may be answered "No, you're not responsible"].
The clues I liked best:
  • [The United States, for one] clues OCEAN LINER. I have never heard of this ship, so the clue didn't point me in the right direction at all.
  • [Net rival] has nothing to do with the internet or networks—a member of the New Jersey Nets rivals a SIXER.
  • SARCASM! [It might drip from a crack]. Heh. The clue sounds obscene or scatological but is perfectly innocent.
  • [Was vagarious] clues ROAMED. Vagarious is your vocabulary word for the day: "erratic and unpredictable in behavior or direction," according to the Oxford-based Mac widget dictionary.
  • [Shooter's equipment] is DICE.
  • [The devil is often depicted with one] is a GOATEE. Shouldn't the image be that of a dude with giant woolly muttonchops and a handlebar mustache instead?
  • AMEN is a [Period of prayer?] in that it's a final form of punctuation.
  • UNCROSS is [Remove from the lotus position]. The answer looks like a "roll your own" word, and yet it's a real word with real usage.
  • [Place to find fjord explorers: Abbr.] is ICEL., or Iceland. That's the clunkiest abbreviation in the puzzle, so that's not too bad at all.
The ZZ zone contains RAZZ, or [Heckle]; PIZZA, or [Kind of oven]; OZZY, or ["The Osbournes" dad]; and DIZZY, or [Swimming].

Lesser-known items: ENESCO is the ["Oedipe" opera composer, 1936]. CHIOS is a [Greek island in the Aegean]. I'll betcha most solvers thought of Crete or Corfu] first. MASER is an [Electromagnetic wave enhancer]. GREER was a Sixer, [20-Across in the Hall of Fame]—and a basketball player I've never heard of. And AYER is a [Philosopher who promoted logical positivism]. ("Is that logical? I'm positive it is.")


Yeah, I didn't wake up early, so I'll write up the LA Times puzzle and then hit the road.

Doug Peterson's LA Times crossword was a delight to solve. Plenty of tricky clues that put up a fight, but then yielded to obviousness. The only spot that was at all off-putting was EEGS clued as [Head shots, briefly?]—EEGs are tracings, zigzag lines, and not "shots" of any sort. (X-rays, MRIs, CTs—those are quasi-photographic shots. EEGs and EKGs aren't.) Everything else was good. My favorite clues:
  • [Great deal] is BUSHEL.
  • [Globe opening] is ACT ONE (Globe Theatre).
  • [Palm application] is HAND LOTION.
  • [Fault line?] is OOPS.
  • IN TOO DEEP is a great answer—clued as [No longer able to get out].
  • NO MA'AM is good too—[Genteel rejection].
  • [Nutty, in a way] is AMANDINE. Yum, almonds.
  • [You might hear music on it] is HOLD. Not an iPod!
  • A very [Young entrepreneur's product] is LEMONADE.
  • ERSE is the [Language that gave us "hubbub"]. Boring answer, interesting clue that saves it.
  • [Little black book successor] is a PDA.