November 17, 2008

Tuesday, 11/18

Sun 4:15
CS 3:49
Jonesin' 3:36
LAT 3:04
NYT 2:57

You know how blog comments generally don't let you post a photo? The Crossword Fiend forum allows users to upload attachments. Why, I posted a picture of me. (Just try to keep pictures to a width of about 300 pixels so the forum doesn't become double-wide.)

Take a trek on the Richard Chisholm trail to the New York Times crossword. He's got six theme entries, five of which consist of TWO HOUSES (59-Across):

  • A [Police stop] is a ROADBLOCK. That Patrick Swayze movie Roadhouse was set at...a roadhouse. And block house...I don't know what that is. Is it anything like a rowhouse?
  • [Remedy for failed courses, maybe] is SUMMER SCHOOL. If you don't have to go to your schoolhouse for the summer, you might vacation at your summer house, unless the bank has foreclosed on it.
  • The [Cardinal vis-a-vis Illinois, Indiana or Ohio] is the STATE BIRD. Your local legislature hangs out at the state house, and the They Might Be Giants song, "Birdhouse in Your Soul," is probably the only song to include the words "filibuster vigilantly."
  • [Military capability] is FIREPOWER. Fire trucks reside at firehouses, and Tyler Hinman is a crosswordin' powerhouse.
  • One kind of [Wheeled toy] is a DOLL CARRIAGE. Dollhouse and carriage house are both familiar terms.
Fill I liked: If you're [A pretty capable person], you're NO SLOUCH; ZEKE was my college nickname as well as [The Cowardly Lion's Kansas counterpart]; and BARTEND, or [Pour drinks]. ETD gets its most straightforward and specific clue ever: [When a plane is due to take off: Abbr.]. Did you know that the TAFTS were an [Ohio political dynasty]? I just know of President Taft, and not his kinfolk.

Gary Steinmehl's Sun crossword ditches a TER from each theme entry's root phrase, hence the title, "Terminus" (minus TER). Here are the five theme entries:
  • ROCK LOBS are a [Catapult barrage?]. Sure, there's a crustacean called the rock lobster, but most of my generation will think of the B-52's song, "Rock Lobster."
  • [Short skirts from overseas?] are FOREIGN MINIS (foreign ministers).
  • [Vehicle to Invesco Field?] is a Denver BRONCO BUS, playing on rodeo bronco busters.
  • The portrait painter turns into PORTRAIT PAIN, a [Poser's backache?].
  • Dixie Carter is transformed into a [Jam ingredient in the South?], or DIXIE CAR.
I wonder if Peter Gordon already had POT clued as [Grass] when this puzzle was destined for newspaper publication, or if he zinged things up a bit when he went rogue. Truthfully, I've noticed little change in the puzzles since the New York Sun folded. Speaking of grass, ASTROTURF is in here, too. I didn't play Risk much as a kid (...or adult), so I didn't know that [Indonesia is part of it in the game Risk] could clue AUSTRALIA. Let's take a look...sure enough. But hey! The Philippines has sunk beneath the ocean's surface in Risk. What's up with that?

Ooh, Matt Jones's Jonesin' puzzle has a fun theme for sports fans, a themeless-grade grid (just 70 words), and five zones with lotsa white space. The theme entries in "Court Case" combine two NBA teams into mildly plausible phrases:
  • [Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Louis Armstrong et al.?] are JAZZ KINGS—Utah Jazz, Sacramento Kings.
  • [Device that cuts your fingernails without even touching them?] is MAGIC CLIPPERS. (Heh.) Orlando Magic, L.A. Clippers.
  • [People who walk nervously during loud, stormy weather?] are THUNDER PACERS—the Oklahoma City Thunder (previously the Seattle Sonics), Indiana Pacers.
  • [Amount paid on a natural gas bill?] is HEAT BUCKS—Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks.
In the fill, 1-Across was a complete mystery to me; [Horrorcore hip-hop group whose fans are called Juggalos, for short] is ICP. I got the [Chinese name of Taoist philosopher Lao-Tzu] through the crossings without ever seeing the clue, which is good because I hadn't seen LIER before. I did know that CRANIUM was the [Board game with categories "Data Head" and "Word Worm"], and yes, I like to opt for Word Worm. STINK TO [___ high heaven (really reek)] was a fine 7-letter FITB partial for me. ["At Last" singer James and namesakes] are ETTAS; did you know there's an upcoming movie about Chess Records called Cadillac Ranch, starring Beyoncé as Etta James? The film opens in early December.


Ed Sessa's LA Times crossword takes the subterranean train:
  • [Experimental cinematic offering] is an UNDERGROUND FILM, and London's subway system is called the Underground.
  • [Heelless hosiery] are TUBE SOCKS, and London's Underground is also called the Tube.
  • ["Eat fresh" establishment] is a SUBWAY FRANCHISE, and the Underground, a.k.a. Tube, is a subway.
Having a small theme like this accommodates 16 answers that are 7 or 8 letters long.

Randolph Ross's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Pop Quiz," has four phrases linked by their P.O.P. initials, all with OF in the middle:
  • [Receipt] is a PROOF OF PURCHASE.
  • [Toolbelt item] is a PAIR OF PLIERS.
  • [Sheet] is a PIECE OF PAPER.
  • [Classic cliff-hanger, with "The"] is PERILS OF PAULINE.
Just yesterday, I learned that Maria Bartiromo has company in the category of "cable news channel female financial reporters deemed conventionally attractive": ERIN [Burnett of CNBC's "Squawk on the Street"]. There was a magazine article about the two of them in this category (oy). I had the AC in place for [Hit hard], so of course I went with THWACK; alas, the answer was IMPACT. [Real first name of Roy Rogers] is LEONARD, Leonard Slye. How could anyone give up an awesome name like Slye?? [Provide relief for a bugged boxer?] seems a little too jokey for a verb that is of questionable generic validity, DEFLEA.