November 05, 2008

Thursday, 11/6

NYT 9:something, maybe
Sun 5:40
LAT 3:26
CS 3:08

(updated at 9:50 a.m. Thursday)

Hoo-wee, am I sleepy! And it's not even time for the NYT crossword yet. Could be the wine over dinner, could be the latish night watching election returns last night, could be a nascent case of narcolepsy. Time will tell.

The Sun crossword by Patrick Blindauer is called "OO7," with two letter O's rather than two zeroes. Each theme entry is a phrase with an O in which that O gets doubled to change the sense—and there are seven of these answers.

  • The Mod Squad becomes [Cheerleaders?], or the MOOD SQUAD.
  • A pop quiz slaughters the crossword breakfast test with its double-O making it POOP QUIZ, or [Test on which to use a number two pencil?]. Get it? "Number two"? This one gave me the juvenile giggles.
  • Slop bucket transforms into SLOOP BUCKET, or [Pail for bailing out a single-masted vessel]. (Eh. That one's not so zippy.)
  • Hot pants morph into HOOT PANTS, or [Trousers for Woodsy Owl?] Woodsy Owl's big catchphrase in the '70s was "Give a hoot, don't pollute." My kid's learning about conservation, recycling, global warming, etc., in third grade right now. He's chiding me any time I turn on a lamp when it's not pitch dark out, and demands that we use those spiral fluorescent bulbs. (Dude, we have three rooms lighted by those bulbs. Cut your parents some slack.)
  • NOON SMOKING is clued as [Having a midday menthol?], and the theme answer derives from non-smoking.
  • Stopgap measures turn into STOOP GAP, or [Entrance stairway discontinuity].
  • Lop-eared bunnies become [Like people with hoops in their lobes], or LOOP-EARED.
I've been dozing off while writing about the Sun, and starting to type things from my dreaming brain. So I'd better sign off on the Sun now, and think about caffeine.

Well, it's about 45 minutes later, and I didn't manage to wake myself up. Man! It is challenging to work through a New York Times puzzle with rebus action when your eyes insist on closing. Somewhere in Jeremy Newton's puzzle, either I have an error or I didn't hit on the right character to fill a rebus square and make the applet happy. So I give up. I'm too tired.

The gimmick is rebus squares containing numbers and words that represent the standard playing cards, from 2 through 10 and then JACK, QUEEN, KING, and ACE. Alas, in the NYT applet, the JACK square isn't circled. Here are the theme entries:
  • 1-Across is SUIT, [What the 13 circled things in this puzzle constitute]. As in diamonds, spades, hearts, clubs— a suit.
  • The middle entry has a cute traffic jam of four rebus squares in a row: WOR[KING] 24/7, or [Never idle]. The crossings are PAR[KING] SP[ACE], [TWO]-YEAR-OLD, V-4'S ([Some engines]), and SALE[S EVEN]T. That PAR[KING] SP[ACE] also intersects with SURF[ACE] AREA, or [Full coverage?].
  • A [Pound delivery] is a CA[NINE], crossing [Like many office jobs], or [NINE] TO [FIVE], which in turn crosses the BEST OF [FIVE] [A.L. or N.L. Division Series format].
  • ["Scratch that!"] can be rendered as "86 it," so the theme entry's [EIGHT][SIX] IT. This crosses [EIGHT]-MAN, or [Like squads in arena football] (... if you say so), and [SIX]-SHOOTER, [Something that may hold up a train].
  • Steve MC[QUEEN] was the [Actor known as the King of Cool]. He crosses RED [QUEEN], ["Through the Looking-Glass" protagonist].
  • ["Bad Girl" singer] LATOYA [JACK]SON is missing the circle for her playing card. She can handle this unfortunate wardrobe malfunction and goes on with the show, crossing [JACK] UP, or [Hike].
  • [Barefaced] means patent, or PA[TEN]T. It crosses ROT[TEN].
I'm heading to bed now. If you spot my error in the grid, please leave it in comments, Thank you, and good night.


Joy Frank's LA Times crossword negates the theme entries by appending an UN to the beginnings of actual terms:
  • [Saltine gone bad?] is an UNSAFE CRACKER.
  • [Castle in the air?] is an UNREAL ESTATE.
  • [Skier Picabo before a big race?] is an UNEASY STREET.
  • [Flawed methodology?] is an UNSOUND SYSTEM.
Cute theme. My favorite clue here is [You might enter one for money]. A raffle? A lottery? A strip club? A bank vault? Nope—a PIN, as in the personal identification number you key in at the ATM. Great clue!

Ray Hamel's CrosSynergy puzzle, "That's the Ticket," ends five theme entries with words that can precede ticket:
  • BANANA SPLIT is an [Ice cream treat], and a some voters fill out a split ticket.
  • [McDonald's purchase] is a HAPPY MEAL (meal ticket).
  • [1968 hit for the Zombies] is a song I don't know, TIME OF THE SEASON. Hardcore sports fans with money buy season tickets.
  • [Bragged] means TALKED BIG, and a Mercedes is a big-ticket item.
  • FREE PARKING is (a) a godsend in a big city and (b) a [Monopoly space]. Parking tickets are not godsends—unless, of course, you're a city planner trying to figure out how to fund the operational budget.
This is LATOYA Jackson's biggest day ever in crosswords. She's a theme entry in the NYT and 10-Down in this puzzle? I hope she knows people in cities where these puzzles are published, because what else has her career brought her lately? Elsewhere in the fill, a REEFER is a [Coat similar to a pea jacket] and not a marijuana joint. It could've been clued [1936 exploitation film "___ Madness"], too.